The way of Cain (part 1)
Jude 1:11 “Woe to them, they have taken the way of Cain”
Genesis 4: 1 – 15
In the small book of Jude, there is a warning for people who have a certain attitude. There is a warning against people who have a certain “way” about them. When I studied this “way,” I was shocked at the comparisons of this generation and “the way of Cain.” The really interesting thing is that this warning comes right before the book of Revelation. I think it is kind of a hint to us that right before the end time events unfold, or perhaps while they are unfolding, people will have this “way” about them. So, what does “the way of Cain” look like?
After the fall of mankind in chapter 3, the next time we hear God speak is a question to Cain: “Why are you so angry?” Cain was angry because his offering wasn’t accepted and Abel’s was. It’s pretty obvious to me that God really cares about our attitudes when bringing offerings to Him. Proverbs 21:27 says that “God loathes the sacrifice of an evil person, especially when it is brought with ulterior motives.” WOW! You’d think that God would be cool with anybody bringing SOMETHING to Him, I mean, at least they are acknowledging Him, right? Wrong! If my heart isn’t right, God doesn’t want anything from me nor does He want me to do anything for Him…in fact, I make Him sick if I even try. It is so easy to be a member of the Laodicean church in Revelation 3. You go and act all good and give off the appearance of being hot on Sunday, then Monday through Saturday live as cold as you want. Jesus says “Be one way or the other…ALL the time!” (Salem Standard Version, of course)
Cain was angry because God didn’t accept his half-hearted effort. After he saw Abel’s offering being accepted, he played the “what makes him so special?” game. Oh man, this game is easy to play, and unfortunately it feels good to play. You get to point out all of the other person’s flaws to God and try to convince Him that they are no better than you. You get to find others who give half-hearted effort and slander and spew insults about the ones doing it right…it’s a really fun game to play, but in the end, God is not going to accept you or your offering. He tells us how to correctly respond in Genesis 4:7: “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must master it.” I love this verse…I learn to master sin, or sin masters me! Personally, I have decided that, with God’s help, I can and will master sin!
Now, let me tell you what this looked like for me a few years ago. I remember sitting in our awards ceremony at the school where I work. I had just watched a teacher have the yearbook dedicated to them. I thought to myself “I’ve been here longer than that person, why didn’t I have it dedicated to me?” Soon after that, the Teacher of the Year award was given to a teacher that was not me. I thought, “what makes them so special? How come I’ve been here 10 years and never been teacher of the year?” A week or two later at our sports banquet, I watched the Coach of the Year award be handed out. The coach of the year was, once again, not me. Now, I began to think of all of the reasons that I was better than all of them. I can only imagine how putrid I smelled to God (and I wondered why He seemed so far away). However, God asked me in a similar way that he asked Cain “Are you giving me your best?” At first, I responded by telling God how I was better than those others who were chosen, but it didn’t take long before I saw the half-heartedness in just about everything I did. I wanted to master sin so I told God I was sorry, and I went for it. In two years I became a completely different worker. I discovered two things. One, I love my job when I do it for Him. Two, if I’m doing my job for Him, I do not need or even want human rewards or recognition. The joy I have in the Lord is more than enough.
However, just to show His sense of humor, in 2010, He gave me all three of those awards I coveted just a few years before.
So, if you claim to be a Christian, what is your attitude about work? If you’re a student, what is your attitude about school? Do you do it to honor God? Are you giving your best? Most people are taking the way of Cain. They are giving God SOMETHING, but not their best, then complaining about the ones who do give their best. Our generation wants maximum reward for minimum effort. Unfortunately, you don’t get credit for just “showing up.” You get a real deal relationship with God for giving your ALL!