The lesson from Cain and Abel is still very much alive today. Even within my own family I see examples of how one brings an offering with truly good intents while another has ulterior motives. Thankfully, at least to date, the worst of the motives are petty in nature, nothing like Cain!
Sadly though, reading the local newspaper reveals the darkest of hearts still exists in our local communities. So sad, especially in these small, rural communities. Given the number of people in large metro areas, you would expect to find stories of violent domestic disturbances, just because the statistics favor large numbers, but here?
We need to be aware of the struggles that people are dealing with on the inside. This is only possible when we build relationships, something that takes time and only happens when we truly care about our neighbors.
In many ways I think we’ve lost the art of making friends. Facebook teaches us that you click to add friends and while we all know that’s not reality is subtly creeps into our subconscious thoughts. Dale Carnegie’s famous, How to Win Friends and Influence People, was a book based on biblical principles written to an audience that was generally interested in learning how to apply these concepts. I’m not a big fan of wikipedia, but take a glance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People. Don’t misunderstand me, we don’t “handle” people or in any way, shape or form try to manipulate them to our way of thinking, but if we are students of Jesus Christ, we will see the 20th century principles Carnegie was trying to convey.
If we are not thinking like Christians, these same principles can be used to manipulate others as well. Why? Because we are social beings. God intended for us to be a community, to be in community with one another.
The narrative in Genesis 4 doesn’t explain why Cain’s offering wasn’t acceptable, at least not directly. When we read the rest of the story, especially Genesis 4:7, we see that there is something going on beyond the simple offering of grain, the fruit of the land.
“…But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Abel offers the best from the flock and apparently Cain picked up what was simple and common. God provided an opportunity for Cain to learn, knowing what would happen next. Hebrews 11:4 stresses that faith was the key to Abel’s offering, his intent was righteous.
Lord, sharpen my senses to see that my own intentions are righteous, are a worthy offering to you. Teach me to learn your ways, each day. Help me to show others the strength in community, even though it requires time and energy.