Jump Start # 2411
Genesis 4:6 “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?”
Our verse today surrounds the story of Cain and Abel. This one segment of time will define them both. Cain’s name always appears in the list of the Bible’s bad boys. His name is found three times in the New Testament, and they are not in a favorable manner. Our verse sounds very familiar to what God would say to Jonah hundreds of years later, “Why are you angry?”
Cain made three mistakes. Each of these mistakes were connected to each another. As is so often the case, when a person has done wrong, they continue to add to their sins by doing more wrongs. Consider Cain’s three mistakes.
First, he offered the wrong gift. He was a farmer and he offered produce to God. Seems logical. We’d think that you offer what you have. He had farm produce and that’s what he offered. This was not accepted by God. Hebrews 11 tells us that by faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice. The “by faith” part is important. That’s not attitude. That’s obedience. How did Abel know to offer a lamb to God? Lucky guess? Intuition? How does faith begin? Faith is based upon what God tells us. Faith comes from hearing God’s word. God must have told the boys what to do.
Abel’s offering was a sacrifice. A lamb was killed. There is no using that lamb after that. It was dead. For Cain, he could have offered God a few grapes, some tomatoes, a watermelon. However, once picked those plants would produce more and more. No one gardens a tomato plant with the hopes of getting just one tomato. You want several. Abel made a sacrifice. Cain made a gift.
This also tells us that worship matters to God. Just because it’s worship doesn’t mean God is pleased with it. Today, folks have the idea that as long as I toss the name of Jesus into the program, we can skateboard, sell popcorn, have a high wire act, have a concert, sell tickets, put on a play and have a comedy skit and it’s all called worship. It makes us laugh, cry and have a great time. But does the Lord accept it? Is it by faith? Remember, faith is obedience to God’s word. To have those things, one must find them in the Bible.
Second, Cain had the wrong attitude. This is where our verse is found today. He left worship, not uplifted, encouraged and stronger. No. He left worship angry. He was angry because God did not accept this garden produce. I’ve seem folks leaving worship angry. Sometimes it is for selfish reasons. The worship went a bit longer than normal and they were ready to pitch a fit. Other times, some have left mad because the sermon got a little too close to them. Sermons are supposed to do that. If they don’t land on our front porch, there’s a good chance nothing much will come from them. Sermons are made to make us think. They may tan our hides and step on our toes. Rather than leaving mad, we ought to thank the preacher for being so honest, bold and helpful. He’s wanting us to please the Lord and sometimes we just need a good ole’ fashioned rebuke, or as I call it, ‘kick in the pants.’ Then others are mad because they didn’t get to serve publically. They view worship as a show and they want to be in the spot light. It’s a good thing that they weren’t used because their attitudes are not right. Worship is always about God. It’s about magnifying God as Psalms tells us.
We must wonder if now and then we have the wrong attitudes about worship. We can gather to socialize with friends. We can gather to make ourselves look good and even show off a new pair of shoes, but if we haven’t gathered to be in His presence, our attitudes are out of line.
Third, Cain’s reaction was wrong. Why was he mad at Abel? Abel didn’t do anything wrong. So often when one is guilty, they will lash out at the innocent or the guy who is doing what is right. Abel had nothing to apologize about. He did what God said. Had Cain done the same, there wouldn’t have been a problem. So, he is mad. He’s probably mad at God. And, he’s mad at his brother. He missed the one he ought to have been mad with, and that was himself. He was the one who chose to offer the veggies. He was the one who didn’t listen to God. He was the one who tried to do the simple and the convenient. He should have kicked dirt at himself and resolved to do better next time. He should have bought a lamb off his brother. But he didn’t. He was angry. That anger invited Satan into his heart. That anger made him lose his sense of right and wrong. That anger led him to killing his brother. Did that change his sacrifice? No. Did that make things right with God? No. Did that make him feel better? No. What in the world did he tell Adam and Eve? He had the wrong response.
And this spirit of Cain is alive and well today. The preacher steps on our toes. We get mad. We threaten to leave or fire the preacher. He didn’t do anything wrong. We did. Someone in the family gets on us because we are not doing what we should. Angry, we lash out at the family member. We bring up a bunch of stuff from the past that has nothing to do with the current situation. Angry because we don’t get our way. Angry because we got caught doing wrong. Angry because the Bible won’t allow us to do what we want. So often, many go looking to find a more progressive church. They will allow me to do what I want. They don’t judge me, is what is commonly said. I can marry anyone I want. I can change my gender. I can drink myself drunk. I can never show up at worship. I can live worldly. Oh, I still love Jesus, and you can’t tell me I’m wrong. Really? Does the church make us right? Does finding a fat doctor who smokes make being overweight and smoking medically right? You’ll find churches that worship the moon. You’ll find churches that stand for nothing and fall for everything. It’s like the old Burger King commercial, “Have it your way.” And people love that.
Wrong gift. Wrong attitude. Wrong reaction. I wonder if we will ever learn…