Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Encouragement from...wait...Cain??

I have been thinking lately of Cain's sacrifice. Is that odd? Not really a Bible story usually focused on is it?! My Bible Study with the boys in the mornings is looking at how God's plan was always for Christ to die.

We know the difference between the offerings of Cain and Abel, but do we note the significance? Abel's sacrifice involved the shedding of blood-necessary for the forgiveness of sins. But not Cain's sacrifice, Cain worked the land and brought the fruit of his labor's to God for his sacrifice. We know it wasn't acceptable, we know he killed his brother Abel. We know "the story". But I have been really drawn to try to know more.

There really isn't anything in the text that suggests Cain has a propensity toward unrighteousness. He isn't mentioned as though there was some murderous streak in him lying in wait for the proverbial straw. What we do know is that he worked the land. A gardener, a farmer. Like his father Adam, who was given that job by God-certainly a calling with honor and usefulness (I'm married to a farmer!). He was not inferior to his brother Abel.

In seeing him offer a sacrifice to the Lord, can't assume this suggests a desire to please the Lord?
Cain's sacrifice was an offering of the works of his hands-it was his efforts, his sweat, his dedication, perhaps even his passion. Cain brought his own efforts before the Lord to please Him.  

How often do I do this? How often to do I give of myself and exhaust myself in the effort to bring something to table with God? How many times have I stood before Him, in all His holiness, and tried to give Him a piece of my efforts in the hopes that He would be pleased with me? 
Look at all I have done for you God. See?
Cain's sacrifice lacked the required blood, it was not acceptable. My life, my efforts, are nothing. It is only Christ, His blood, His life in and through me. Nothing else will be acceptable to God. There is nothing good in me, but in Christ I am fully accepted. Praise the Lord!

Cain took that deep hurt of rejection and with it he allowed anger and bitterness to rule him. Oh man, am I able to identify with this; I must confess, the ability to identify with CAIN does not give me the warm and fuzzies.

Cain was not a villain. He was not a monster or a demon. He was a man. A man who gave of himself, who saw that work be deemed unacceptable and in personalizing that rejection experienced deep hurt. He was a human who turned that hurt into bitterness and anger. He took that anger and directed it at another person, a person who contrasted sharply with himself. And we know the end result. 

Cain was the first man to go down this path but it has been often traveled since. I may not have killed my brother, but I know that I have held on to bitterness in my life and I have certainly seen the effects. I know that I have struggled with my emotions when I have compared my life to someone else's seemingly perfect life. I know that I have tried to live the Christian life in my own strength and have ended up frustrated and discouraged.

The blood was necessary. The blood was required. The blood of Christ pleased the Lord and that blood covers me. Without it I am unacceptable, but in accepting Christ's sacrifice I am changed. When God looks at me He sees the perfect blood of His Lamb and I am fully accepted. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
And in my life it must be Christ's work in me, not my own strength, not me living the Christian life, Christ. Only Christ. And thank God that Christ lives in me!

Encouragement from the Word of God. From the life of Cain.

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