Matt Coker | @MatthewSCoker
Today, I’m reading chapter 4 of Genesis.
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” –Genesis 4:1 (NIV84)
Before being removed from Eden, Adam and Eve had never felt pain. This new life outside of paradise, where pain and death existed, must have seemed like torture in comparison. And Eve had just given birth to her first child, which would’ve been the most pain she had ever felt.
I would think, knowing that this pain felt like a curse from God, that in those moments of the most extreme pain she’d ever felt, she would have felt the furthest from God than she had ever been.
But, instead, her first words were to give God credit. To be grateful. To see that God was blessing her.
It’s hard to be grateful to God, especially in a season of pain. We feel removed from paradise and cursed to unhappiness. But if we can have an “attitude of gratitude,” we can find happiness in even the most painful times.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” –Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV84)
How easy is it to be at odds with God? I mean, think about it. Cain actually conversed with God, verbally. Cain knew full well that God was all-powerful and Creator of all things, yet even still, Cain had a selfish, unbelieving heart.
Most Christians, at some point in their faith, have an unbelieving heart. We doubt God, we ignore His blessings, we refuse to follow His will. It can be very difficult to stay on the straight and narrow. But that is normal. If Cain, a man who actually talked with God, could still have an unbelieving heart, how much easier it is for us, who don’t hear God’s audible voice.
What is important to remember, though, is that God is always willing to accept us back when we turn from him. We need only do what is right and work to master our sinful nature.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. –Genesis 4:8 (NIV84)
The first murder. The first human life lost on Earth. The first casualty of eating the forbidden fruit.
This is what has been in the hearts of men since sin entered the world. The capacity to do evil things.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that the Bible is not a book of morality because we see so many bad things happen in it. Murder, rape, slavery, polygamy, incest, etc. They think the Bible condones these actions. But those people don’t understand what the Bible is. It is not a story written by a fiction author with a conflict, climax, and conclusion. It is a book of history, telling things how they really were.
We see so many times that even the people of God spend a season of their life in sin. Reality is not pretty. We need to realize that, even if we are saved, we still have a sinful nature to overcome. If you feel like you are not growing in the Lord, but standing still or even moving backwards, I’m willing to bet there is a sin in your life you are not willing to give up.
Cain had no reason to kill Abel other than jealousy. Cain lost nothing from having his offering rejected. He was still the first born, still owner of the birthright. He got scolded by God, encouraged to do better, but that was it. God didn’t even compare Cain to his brother Abel (Why can’t you be more like your brother?). Cain did that himself.
We all like to think that we are incapable of crossing certain lines. Be careful, because that means you aren’t prepared for the moment when you step up to that line. Sin is lying in wait, prepared to strike. You must master it.
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. –Genesis 4:13-15 (NIV84)
Cain had killed his own brother and God cursed his labor and banished him from his home. He feared his own death at the hands of his other siblings.
But God, even in his punishment, showed mercy. He promised to protect him. That no one would kill Cain.
This is a prevailing theme throughout the Old and the New Testament, that God can hand down punishment and yet still be merciful.
That is what he did for me and for most Christians. I screwed up and had to face the consequences, and yet, even in that time of punishment, God blessed me, strengthened my marriage, protected me from danger, gave me a new drive, a new purpose, and freedom from my addiction.
Our God is a God of Mercy.
In Genesis 4, we find that being grateful for what blessings we have instead of being angry for what we don’t gives us happiness even in painful times, we find that sin is waiting to overtake our hearts and we must be prepared to fight it, we find that our sinful nature can make us do terrible things if we let it, and we find that, even when we are punished for our sins, God will still show us mercy, because he loves us unconditionally. Always has, always will.
Matt Coker is the Ministry Director of The Back Row. He is married to a beautiful woman he met when they were both in youth group and they have one mischievous son together. Matt collects Funko Pop figures, loves time travel movies, and enjoys exotic jerky meats. You can contact Matt via the contact page or on Twitter at @MatthewSCoker.