Genesis 4:1-15, 25
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.
Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.”
Psalm 50:1, 8, 16BC-17, 20-21
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you,
and lay the charge before you.
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Today we consider Cain. The first born of Adam and Eve, Cain had a relationship with God, hearing his voice and speaking plainly with Him. Cain experienced the feeling of envy when his brother’s offering was accepted. God sought him out and spoke to Cain, caring about his feelings and suggesting the way to fix things. All Cain had to do was try again to be pleasing to the Lord. But Cain obstinately and premeditatedly, murdered his brother. Afterward, he was not even sorry. When the Lord spoke to him, asking where Abel was, he tried to lie about it, saying he did not know.
Cain had a wicked heart. He resented a righteous man, his own brother, rather than admire him and emulate him, because he felt somehow more entitled. He did not listen to the words God gave him. It was not that he did not know better. God told him plainly what to do and tried to get him to wrestle with himself about his feelings of envy and his anger.
In a frightening way, we see ourselves in Cain sometimes. We can be petty and envious, refusing to acknowledge that someone else may be more favorable with God or with the opinions of people who don’t even matter. We can do also like the Pharisees who just argued with Jesus. They would not accept the miracles that were right in front of their faces but kept hounding him for more proof. They demanded evidence and would not be satisfied with the things that God was working. They felt entitled to their own satisfaction. God must yield to them, not the other way around.
That is a pretty good definition of wickedness. We can even be in relationship with God, have spiritual gifts where we can hear his voice, but still want to hurt or eliminate someone because they have something we want. When we act on it, we can lose fellowship with our fellow man and tragically, even with God.
We all can hear God’s voice in the scriptures. Today, He is telling us to guard against envy.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in Your kindness, please bring to my mind anyone who stirs in me a spirit of competition, rivalry or envy. If there is anyone who aggravates me because of their gifts or success, help me to see them as my brother or sister and may I thank you for their gifts and be happy for their success. I also ask that you help me to be pleasing to you and may others shine and outstrip me on the path of holiness so long as I attain the holiness that you desire for me. Amen.