Cain is famous for murdering his brother Abel, but his problem started earlier, and it’s a caution to us all. You can read his story in Genesis 4 and Moses 5. Abel tended flocks.and Cain grew crops. From the beginning, the Lord had commanded sacrifice of the firstlings of the flock. Adam didn’t know for “many days” the reason for this, and it’s possible Cain never got the memo. He certainly never got on board.
Cain didn’t think it was fair that he, as a tiller of the land, had to sacrifice the firstborn lamb. It wasn’t fair that it was easier for Abel to sacrifice than it was for Cain. So he tried sacrificing some grain instead. The Lord did not accept this sacrifice, however, and Cain was upset. The Lord said to him, basically, why are you upset? My commandments are really clear, and if you follow them, you’ll be fine: “If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (v. 23).
The Hebrew for “sin lieth at the door” by the way is quite a bit more spooky than it sounds in the KJV translation; it evokes a “croucher” lying in wait to devour and destroy. It is a serious warning, as the rest of the verse makes clear.
How often do I look around and compare myself to others, and decide that it’s easier for other people to make sacrifices than it is for me? And then end up justifying doing some things that are pretty damaging? Even if that sin is “just” envy of someone else’s “easier” situation than mine. Envy is very toxic, perhaps the most toxic sin, as Jimmy was saying the other day. Cain’s original sin was comparison, his envy because he thought it was easier for others to live the commandments than it was for him. He didn’t think God’s commandments were fair.
It’s humbling to see where walking further down that road led Cain.When I get that way, I like to remind myself, “the Lord has one set of standards for everyone, however easy or hard it is for me to live compared to others, I must do my best, and let the Lord judge the rest.”