Genesis 4:1-12 He that is without sin should cast the first stone. There is not one of us that would be left standing in the glare of God’s omniscience, if we were required to give an account for our sins and injustices. Because we can sin in thought, word and deed, we would be hard-pressed to say that we have never sinned. That would be one more lie. It therefore behoves us all to be very generous in our repentance. And if in doubt, give God the benefit of that doubt and confess our sins in the full knowledge that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)
The Psalmist David hit the nail on the head as he dealt with the question of sin and confession and forgiveness in his life. In Psalm 139:23-24 he writes, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Could Cain’s failure to do what David later did have been where he went wrong? There is something mysterious about the axis of Genesis 4:1-12. Cain and Abel, two brothers, same father and mother, offered a sacrifice to God. The older brother, Cain, was a farmer, and so logically, he offered what he had. The younger brother, Abel, was a shepherd, and logically, he too offered what he had. But the Bible tells us that God was displeased with Cain and his offering, but was pleased with Abel and his offering. Why?
The big hint that we have is that God’s response was not to the offering but to the men and their offering. Jesus would later teach in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
It would appear that God is much more interested in the giver, than He is in the gift. Of course, there is also a possibility that God, who “sacrificed” an animal to clothe Adam and Eve, may have communicated through Adam His preference for animal’s blood offering, in which case, Cain’s wrong-doing would have been disobedience. For that I have no evidence. What appears clear to me is that the same Cain who murdered his brother after God rejected his offering, had already conceived of murder or hatred in his heart for his brother, before the offering was made. Therefore when God rejected Cain’s offering, it was because He was in fact rejecting Cain because of the sin in his heart, although he had not as yet murdered his brother.
The sad part of this is that Cain may not have been aware of the potentially murderous intentions that he was cultivating in his heart. It might have just been a “little” envy, or a “little” hate or a “little” covetousness. That’s all the Devil needs to take us down. The antidote is David’s prayer. We are responsible for confessing and shunning the sin of which we are aware. But for that of which we are not aware, let us ask God to search our hearts, reveal any sin that may be germinating, and cleanse us.
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