Ultimately God has given us a way to avoid the consequences of our sin. That is why Jesus came, lived a perfect life and died in our place. He conquered sin and death so we could have freedom and life. That was everything God could do on our behalf to keep us from the consequences we deserve. He is waiting for us to accept that love and forgiveness. He is waiting for us to choose the win.
It is truly amazing how each time I read the scriptures, new truths grab my attention. As I started through the Bible again, within the first few chapters, something jumped out at me. I don’t think I have noticed it before. Maybe I had noticed it, but it really struck me deeply this time.
The part that struck me this time is that God tries to warn Cain. “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.” In the King James Version it is translated “you should rule over it.”
The more I get to know the heart of God, I start to understand this better. The more I take time to really understand who He is, I begin to recognize His boundaries, guidance, and instruction as love. The more I pursue relationship with my Creator, the more I see Him as the one who wants to see me win!
I came upon it in Genesis chapter 4 Cain is angry and downcast because God approved his brothers offering but was displeased with Cains’. When I read the narrative, it simply says Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground which was his area of work. With Abel, it specifically mentions that he brought some of the first born of his flock. Without doing any serious study, I can conclude that Cain’s offering lacked thought. From what is missing in the description of Cain’s offering, it seems he just grabbed whatever and presented it to The Lord. In comparison, Abel would have had to go, purposefully and thoughtfully to gather his offering. He would have to go through the flock to gather the first born.
None of us likes to be shown up and perhaps especially by a sibling. The Lord saw Cain and how he was responding.
Genesis 4: 6-7 “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast? Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”
How often to I become hurt and angry when actually I got myself into the situation? How often do I behave like Cain? How often do I choose poor reactions and instead of owning my behaviour, do I direct my frustration onto an innocent party? Cain could have acknowledge that he had brought an unworthy offering, he could have recognized that he made a choice and the consequence was his own fault. Instead, he gets mad at his brother for doing what was right. It is easy to identify the problem from an objective position, but how often do I actually do the very same thing and justify my attitude even though it is completely wrong?
God recognizes Cain is at risk of making a bad decision and tries to give him a heads up. I wonder if this struck me because of a situation we were facing as a family. One of our children was making choices we felt they were not ready for. We could see what was coming down the pike and it looked a lot like disappointment and pain. We desperately wanted to guide our child away from such consequences but all we could do was caution, warn and journey with them as they made their choices.
I knew that is was going to hurt us as parents. I had absolutely no control of the situation but would definitely be impacted by it. I wouldn’t just get to watch events play out, I would be affected by it too. It would affect me because I love my child so incredibly much. When my child hurts, I hurt. When my child is disappointed, I am disappointed and my heart aches for them. When they have to experience the natural consequence of their choices, I feel pain and sorrow for them. I do not delight in being proven correct in my prediction. I do not revel in them suffering the consequence we warned them of. I lose sleep because I know they are hurting and there is nothing I can do about it. I feel grief and wish like crazy that I could take the consequence instead of them
As I read this verse in the scriptures, I could identify with God’s deep concern and love. I could hear God crying “Danger, run away!!!” I felt God’s heart bursting with desperate love for Cain. God’s desire for Cain to choose well was magnified for me by my desire for my own child to choose well.
I am beginning to understand in a new way how hard it is for God to allow us free will. The consequences of our choices do not only hurt us, God feels that pain deeply too. He hurts with us because of his crazy, immense love for us. God is offering guidance to Cain and it is motivated by desperate loving kindness. He is trying to help Cain win. He was giving Cain a way to change the course. God is giving Cain the necessary tools to escape a bad decision. As I read this, I don’t see God shaking his head and pointing a finger. I see a loving Father trying respectfully to guide a dearly loved child. I see a loving parent reading the road signs and trying to help avoid disaster, recognizing that the choice is ultimately up to the child. Giving us free will costs God. He is in the pain of our consequences with us.
1 Corinthians 10: 13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
God doesn’t have to warn us like he warned Cain. He doesn’t have to provide a way out. He isn’t obligated to give warning. Out of his deep love for us, he offers an escape so we can avoid mistakes. He chooses to guide us. He does it because he wants to help us win. He wants us to avoid painful and difficult consequences. He does it because He loves us more than our finite minds can fathom.
God doesn’t just leave us to the course of our human nature, He knows the struggles we face. He knows the weaknesses we have. His desire is for us to rule over the thinking, situations, and choices that threaten to cause us to stumble. His hearts desire is to see us win.