Thought for the Week - 9th SeptemberLloyd Hopkin
Genesis 4: 3-7
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain
brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.
Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.
And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,
but He did not respect Cain and his offering.
And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry?
And why has your countenance fallen?
If you do well, will you not be accepted?
And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;
and it came to pass, when they were in the field,
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Lately I’ve been meditating on the differences between Christ and satan. What makes those two so different and what does it mean for us? There is the humility and love of Christ, and there is the pride and jealousy of satan. We can see the battle raging throughout history and the generations.
CS Lewis once wrote:
“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others…
In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud. ”
When we think of the things that send a person to hell and condemn them, we think of the worst things we can imagine. If I asked you to make a list of things that would send someone to hell, grumbling, complaining and blaming others would probably be quite low on the list. But these small sins grow into much bigger sins. Something can start as a grumbling mood can develop into bitterness that colours our outlook and everything that we are.
Has it ever occurred to you that Satan found cause for complaint in paradise? Compare that to Christ, who found peace and love in hell on Calvary.
We can’t blame or point to our circumstances to excuse or explain what we are like. Christ, who we are seeking to be like, in the worst of circumstances found the peace and love of God. Satan, in the best of circumstances, found cause to complain. Something within our hearts makes that choice. Something within the heart of Christ drove Him to find heaven, and there was something in the heart of satan that drove him to find hell.
In Genesis above we read of Cain and Abel. After Adam and Eve were taken from paradise, straight away in the next generation that pride comes to Cain. We read of satan in heaven. He was very proud, he wanted to be like the Most High. Christ says there is no truth in him and that “he was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8: 44). That pride, that hatred and those lies we see in Cain. As soon as man falls, these things come into his heart.
Abel brought his first born sheep. Cain was a tiller of the ground and brought fruit. We read that God respected Abel’s sacrifice more. There was something that Cain had done that made his sacrifice not as acceptable to God. Cain finds himself in a situation that he finds unfair. He gets very angry about his circumstances, and his countenance falls.
Cain, was made by God but in this moment he decides he’s big enough to disagree with God, he knows better. He believes it’s his right to be angry. One of the first human’s to have been made and he disagrees with God and believes he’s justified. He becomes bitter.
God says to Cain that he is able to please Him. It is for every one of us to please God, but it is what He asks us to do. If Cain doesn’t do well, he is told that sin lays at the door. There is something in that for all of us. When we know we’re not giving our all to God, running after God, or doing our best, we know sin lays at the door ready to take us.
God says to Cain that He knows he is angry, that he feels irritated and annoyed, but that he should rule over it. He has a choice. Similarly, we have a choice. We each have a chance to say, Lord not my way but thine (Luke 22: 42).
Cain talks to his brother and then murders him. We read this of satan, who was a murderer in the beginning. Within us, when we open ourselves to jealousy, we’re not only saying that we disagreeing with God’s will, but we’re focussing on another person and driving our bitterness towards them. Cain takes the circumstances around him and does what he can to make it in his image. In doing that, he becomes a murderer.
God asks where Abel is, to which Cain replies that he don’t know. The lies come in from the bitterness and pride within his heart. When we allow bitterness to take root in our heart it twists us. As soon as satan put himself on the level of God, it upset the order of things and it started fighting against truth.
Cain is flippant: “am I my brother’s keeper?”. He says this to the very God who created the universe, his father and him. We see the arrogance that is in his heart. When we reject god’s will and the things around us, become jealous of people inside God’s will, the bitterness and anger grows, and it makes murderers and liars of us all.
We constantly have the choice whether we accept the will of God, or whether we reject it. When we have those choices, we are either pointing ourselves to Christ or to the same bitterness that was in Cain.
What do we do when we think we’re treated unfairly? When there are circumstances around us that hurt us? When God asks us to do something we don’t want to do? How quickly grumbling is able to take root in the heart of man and change him, make him a liar and murderer.
That is what God is saving us from. He is saving us from that bitterness, that hatred, that anger and that poison. He is taking us into something that is the exact opposite.
Hebrews 5: 5-9
So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest,
but it was He who said to Him:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”
As He also says in another place:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek”;
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications,
with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death,
and was heard because of His godly fear,
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
And having been perfected, He became the author
of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
We see here the exact opposite. Christ was beloved of God. He chose to leave heaven, to come to earth and to take our sins. He didn’t seek to glorify Himself. Do we seek to glorify ourselves or the glory of God? If there was anyone who could have justifiably glorified Himself, it was Christ. And yet He didn’t. There was no pride in Him. He offered up prayers and supplications for you and me. He spent His life and His death for you and me. The very essence of love itself. He constantly prayed for others. In the garden of Gethsemane He sweat drops of blood for us, but still He prayed for us. In the depths of hell, His focus was still praying for others.
Even the hurt, offence, injustice that Cain felt he’d suffered was felt by Christ. When we feel offended or unjustly treated, the hurt of that Christ still feels. Rather than fighting against it, realise that Christ has felt it.
On the cross, Christ was faced with a God who could have stopped it. But He didn’t ask it. He chose not to. He was never bitter against His God. He never blamed His God or asked His God to do anything against His will. He bore the cross for the love He has for us. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Those things, took Cain took away from God as he chose to wrestle against God. We do the same in actions and thoughts. Rather than doing that, Jesus learned obedience. He learned to turn Himself back to God.
In Jacob we see someone who, like Cain, had pain and hurt. Yet rather than taking that and wrestling against God with it, Jacob takes it to Him and wrestles with God. We too must take those things to God. The hurt, the unfairness, the anger. Pour your hurt onto Christ, rather than against Him.
When we choose love, our hearts become tender. Within that is the freedom of God.
We need the love of Christ