The story of Cain and Abel takes sibling rivalry to the extreme. As Genesis 3 ends and Adam and Eve are driven out of the garden of Eden, God’s very good creation has been broken by the sin of mankind. When we sin, we are turning away from God and His design for our lives. Sin severs the perfect fellowship between God and humanity, and Cain and Abel show us that broken fellowship with God inevitably leads to broken fellowship with those created in the image of God.
Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord, but the Lord only had regard for Abel’s offering. We aren’t told at first exactly what the issue was with Cain’s offering, but what follows reveals a lot. Cain reacts to the Lord with anger, and the Lord responds to Cain with a warning in verse 7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” God speaks of sin as a wild animal waiting on its prey. God’s design is good for us, but sin’s desire is contrary to our good. Sin must be defeated, but Cain’s actions reveal his heart.
God’s warning is clear, but Cain’s judgment is clouded. In the very next verse, we are told as matter-of-factly as possible that Cain killed Abel. What began as an issue with Cain’s worship of God and his heart toward the Lord quickly grew into lethal hostility toward his brother. When our fellowship with the Lord is broken, then our fellowship with those created in His image always follows, and while the story of Cain and Abel might seem extreme, sin is still crouching at the door.
Cain’s sin took his brother’s life and destroyed his family, but Jesus told us in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Like Cain’s murderous act, our anger and judgments and hateful words can become a destructive force. Like Cain’s murderous act, our anger and judgments and hateful words begin with our hearts. Today, let’s be aware of how quickly anger can lead to words and thoughts and actions that destroy. Let’s ask God to strengthen our fellowship with Him and our love for those created in His image.