Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? Genesis 4:6 (ESV)
I always have a hard time remembering who did what in this Bible story. Did Cain kill Abel or vice-versa? The mnemonic “Killer Cain killed Abel, and Able Abel was able to please God” helps sometimes. In a recent reading of the story, I discovered why I mix them up.
Confusion starts with the question of God’s favoring Abel’s offering over and above that of Cain’s. Wasn’t the Lord being unfair? The answer is “no” because God was looking forward to the day of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Abel’s act symbolized the story of mankind. Cain’s did not.
But even though the Lord’s advice goes to Cain, Abel himself was not always a perfect being. The Bible story focuses only on one instance. This advice could have been given to Abel at another time for another reason. We all sin and fall short. The problem is an assumption that this one story gives an all-encompassing judgment towards Cain.
Logically, in another time, for another reason, it could have been Abel who killed Cain. That’s why it doesn’t really matter if I confuse the names. Sin crouches at everyone’s door, every minute of every day. Bottom line, there is only one way to do well – confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. Submitting to His will and His lordship is the way to rule over sin.
Prayer: Gracious Father, Keep us from reacting to our own emotions of anger. Keep warning us to come to You and let You triumph over the sin crouching at our door. Amen.
© V. Colclasure 2011