In spite of parents’ efforts and worries, conflicts between children in a family seem inevitable. Sibling relationships allow both competition and cooperation. In most cases, the mixture of loving and fighting eventually creates a strong bond between brothers and sisters. It isn’t unusual, though, to hear parents say, “They fight so much I hope they don’t kill each other before they grow up.” In Cain’s case, the troubling potential became a reality. And while we don’t know many details of this first child’s life, his story can still teach us.
Cain got angry. Furious. Both he and his brother Abel had given offerings to God, and his had been rejected. Cain’s reaction gives us a clue that his attitude was probably wrong from the start. Cain had a choice to make. He could correct his attitude about his offering to God, or he could take out his anger on his brother. His decision is a clear reminder of how often we are aware of opposite choices, yet choose the wrong just as Cain did. We may not be choosing to murder, but we are still intentionally choosing what we shouldn’t.
The feelings motivating our behavior can’t always be changed by simple thought-power. But here we can begin to experience God’s willingness to help. Asking for his help to do what is right can prevent us from setting into motion actions that we will later regret.
@Strengths and accomplishments
w First human child
w First to follow in father’s profession, farming
@Weaknesses and mistakes
w When disappointed, reacted in anger
w Took the negative option even when a positive possibility was offered
w Was the first murderer
@Lessons from his life
w Anger is not necessarily a sin, but actions motivated by anger can be sinful. Anger should be the energy behind good action, not evil action
w What we offer to God must be from the heart—the best we are and have
w The consequences of sin may last a lifetime
w Where: Near Eden, which was probably located in present-day Iraq or Iran
w Occupation: Farmer, then wanderer
w Relatives: Parents: Adam and Eve. Brothers: Abel, Seth, and others not mentioned by name
“You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it” (Genesis 4:7).
Cain’s story is told in Genesis 4:1–17. He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11.