Monday, October 15, 2012

Cain and Me

So, in the past few years I have developed a crazy love of the Old Testament. You all know about my slight obsession with the book of Isaiah. At the rate this year is going, I think Genesis is going to come in at a close second. Maybe even nudging Paul's letter to the Romans into third place (haha - am I such a dork or what, for ranking my fave Bible books).

Last week, I wrote about Genesis 3 and seeing my own reflection in Eve.  Well, the Lord decided to take things just one step further this week. He's saying that He's not done with me yet, or this portion of my heart. He has more to show me, more to peel back, more to dig up and unroot, and better fruit to replace it with.

Here's what God showed me through Genesis 4 this week:  that somewhere along the way, my heart has taken a wrong turn. A detour. Ugh. Not only am I a lot like Eve, sometimes I'm a lot like Cain. Yes, Cain, that guy who murdered his brother. 

Cain and Abel both brought their individual sacrifices before the Lord in Genesis 4. God looked with favor on Abel and his offering. But, God did not look with favor on Cain and his offering. God was not pleased with Cain. 

Now, we know from Hebrews 11:6 that what pleases God is faith. Further, "the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). And Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. 

So, it must be that Cain's offering wasn't made in faith. Cain made his offering as part of some sort of religious duty. There was something wrong with Cain's heart. As Cain's life plays out, we see his continuing resentment and anger toward God, his hardness of heart and his discontentedness with the circumstances the Lord had laid before him. He was so angry and hard hearted that he killed his brother. Based on Cain's attitude and other actions, it seems safe to say that he wouldn't have brought a sacrifice out of his love for God or his faith in God's goodness.

And this is where God struck me over the head this week.

Like I mentioned last week, I struggle with things like this:

I read every Christian book I could on biblical womanhood and being a "good wife." I followed all the rules. So, I didn't deserve to have difficulties in my marriage.

I tried so hard in that friendship or family relationship. I strived to love and show Jesus. To be kind and inclusive. But, I ended up misunderstood and slandered.

Here's another one:  I'm doing my best at this motherhood thing. I'm reading the books, praying for my kiddos, following the best Christian parenting advice. Why don't they obey 100% of the time - first time, all the way, with happy hearts?? (haha).

This week, God showed me where I have Cain's heart in all of this. I often serve others, do things "God's way," or try to follow all of the rules to gain something for myself. I don't do it consciously. And, I often truly do start off serving others or trying to do things "God's way" because I love Jesus and I desire to follow Him. He has given up everything for me, and there is a longing in my heart to give everything back to Him. 

And, then my sinful nature comes into play. My sinful nature that is so much a part of me that I don't even notice it taking over. It can start with one wrong thought or one wrong motive that I don't keep in check. Then it takes over. As God said to Cain, "But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7b). 

Think about Cain. He had spent his entire life living after "the Fall." I'm sure that his parents told him about life in Eden. That God had provided everything they needed, and more. That they had sinned. And about God's judgment upon them, sending them outside of the garden, to a life of toil and struggle. Maybe Cain had made many sacrifices over the years. Maybe Cain thought that after all the offerings their family had brought before the Lord, the Lord would have relented and let them back in Eden. Maybe Cain wasn't bringing his offerings to the Lord out of love, but rather in the hopes that he would gain something from God in reward for the offerings. And, maybe those thoughts became resentment or anger, when God didn't relent and didn't let them back into Eden, and life continued to be difficult. Cain didn't master his sin, sin devoured him, and he spent the majority of his life outside of God's presence (see Genesis 4). 

Often, just as it might have been for Cain, the wrong motive that creeps into my thought life is to gain something for myself:

I try to parent the "right way" so that my children will be obedient, and thus my life will be easier. I mean, how much easier would it be if my kids were obedient 100% of the time, and I didn't have to listen to fighting, arguing, backtalk, or give out consequences? 

I try to be a "good wife" to gain my husband's approval. So that he will like me. So that he won't change his mind or forget the reasons he married me. So that we won't have any struggle or strife in our marriage.

I strive in friendships and family relationships to gain and keep people's approval. 

And when things go wrong, I get resentful or angry with God because X + Y didn't equal Z. 

Ugh. Ugh. Bleh.

God is showing me that I need to confess my sin to Him. To confess that I don't always live my life in faith. And then seek His Holy Spirit help to live my life according to His Word, as a living sacrifice for Him. Just because I love Him. And asking Him to give me a sincere love for others. Not with some ulterior motive. Trusting Him, even when things don't go exactly the way I hoped. Trusting His Word, that it will produce eternal fruit, even when following Him doesn't produce the exact results I was expecting or hoping for. Trust Him when no one else notices the sacrifices I've made. Trust Him even if my kids are naughty and no one else approves of me.  

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. (1 Peter 1:22-25).

God's Word is the only thing that will stand forever. Maybe I will suffer now for following Him, for offering myself as a living sacrifice. But, this world will pass away. The people I love and serve will wither away like the grass and the flowers of the field.  Lord, would you show me the eternal value of serving you in faith? Would you keep my motives pure and keep my eyes on eternity? Would you cause me to serve you wholly with Abel's heart?

1 comment:

KlcEvelyn said...

Thank you for sharing your heart so vulnerably. Your words spoke into my life and have me seeking God.