“…The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. ….” (Genesis 4:1-16 NLThttp://bible.com/116/gen.4.1-16.nlt)
Cain and Abel: we know the story well. Here we see these first born into the world. Bear with me for a little speculation here. Cain was firstborn. The first experience of birth pangs. He is named “Cain” in appreciation of God’s help bearing something Eve never knew before that experience. Thus, Eve describes the meaning of the name, Cain, when she proclaims, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man.”
When Abel came, Eve knew from experience what to expect and was better prepared for his birthing. The name, Abel, means “vapor, breath, in the negative sense of having no substance and being something very close to nothing.” Now, considering the implication of Cain being so named out of gratitude for God’s help in going through such unanticipated difficulty, Eve, being better prepared, saw the birth of Abel as a breeze by comparison.
Now, I’ve seen women who had difficult births teasingly, or not, remind their child often of the great pain “they” caused her. This frequent rant often causes a child to feel unacceptable, breeding a need to please with hope of being accepted. If, this was the reality for Cain, we have the root of rejection he dealt with on a daily basis. Abel, on the other hand, would function from a position of being accepted and loved, which breeds confidence. Such differences in there motivational viewpoints led to a sibling rivalry.
With that understanding, we turn to the scene at hand.
First, note that, though they are no longer in Eden, God, the Father, continues to walk with them in fatherly love and acceptance, seeking to relate with and influence their lives for good. He and Abel appear to have a good relationship. Abel, being confident and assured of loving acceptance, out of that love, brings God a gift of the first and best of his herd.
Then comes Cain. Remember, he functions out of rejection and insecurity. He comes with a gift, probably trying to keep up with his brother and somehow win the approval and acceptance of God. His gift is not from a spirit of love and appreciation, thus his gift is a bunch grabbed in haste, not from the first of the crop, and certainly not the finest. Thus, he gives out of a spirit of followship, not fellowship, and most likely begrudgingly given, feeling he had to buy God’s love, while anticipating that nothing will be enough, so why waste the best.
Note here that Abel gave from the blood sacrifice. Cain gave from sin’s curse. Let’s see if I can explain what I see:
Adam and Eve’s sin led to the curse of death, a separation from the intimacy they had with God before the fall. When God cursed the land to bring difficulty to Adam’s work as a farmer and sent them out of the garden, He first made a blood sacrifice for them and covered their nakedness by the power of His grace. Thus, though they were no longer in the Garden, they still had access to God.
Abel not only literally gave a blood sacrifice to God out of a loving relationship with Him, but he gave from the position of the forgiven. Cain, functioning out of rejection, failed to recognize God’s love and grace toward him. His gifts came from that sense of the cursed. Thus, God did not accept a gift given begrudgingly, from one trying to buy what was already there for him to freely possess. Out of his “feelings” of rejection, Cain rejected the truth about God toward him. Dejected, he walked away to sulk and brood in anger that turned on Abel.
Notice something else here. Dejected and sulking in his pity party, God approached Cain, reaching out to him with truth intended to help him make a wise choice toward a righteous path. Cain again rejected God’s hand of love, failing to recognize that God was dealing with him as a Father toward a beloved son.
“For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:6 NLT)
Now look at Cain’s state of mind. Dejected means sad and depressed; dispirited. Synonyms are downcast, down hearted or disheartened, despondent, disconsolate, dispirited, crestfallen. Of these, despondent stands out to me as true of Cain: being in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. And disconsolate: (of a place or thing) causing or showing a complete lack of comfort; cheerless. He was so bitter and angry that he had no ability to receive comfort. Though The Father reached out to Cain in love, desiring to lift his countenance and direct him to truth and the righteous path, Cain gave himself to his dejected spirit and killed his brother.
God’s Word warns us that our fleshly hearts are deceptive, and cannot be trusted. He advises us to keep our thoughts focused on the true, the right, the pure, the honorable, the lovely, the admirable, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If Cain had trusted and believed God, leaning into Him to develop his own relationship with Him, having right thoughts toward Him, he would have avoided all his trouble.
Where is your heart toward God, Beloved? Do you trust His love for you? Are you trapped by fears of rejection, dejected in your thinking toward God and man? Is that breeding distrust toward God; jealousy, bitterness, and anger toward others? Are you trying to buy the love and acceptance Jesus already bought and holds out as a gift to you? Where is your heart motive in seeking after God?
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)