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Guilt by Comparison

Guilt by Association dates back to 1525 as a Medieval Latin expression. However, the idea that an individual is guilty of a crime because he associates with the person who actually committed it can be found in the Bible. While Eve actually ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam was right there with her the whole time, Genesis 3:6-7. One chapter later, Cain is the first to experience guilt by comparison.

And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, Genesis 4:3-4.

Whenever individuals begin to believe that the grass is greener on the other side where someone else resides, envy and jealousy is conceived. The saying “grass is always greener on the other side” originated in the 19th century. The more you compare your own life to a family member, friend or neighbor, guilt can consume your soul by wishing you had this or that. When Cain realized how hard it was to be a farmer, the comparisons began.

But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it, Genesis 4:5-7.

Cain’s guilt from comparison leads to a one on one conversation with God. Trying to figure out why Abel’s offering was embraced by God while his was rejected results in anger, depression and frustration. In response to Cain’s displeasure, God reveals how guilt by comparison has lead to an internal struggle. When sin crouches at your door, you must resist or else guilt will ravage your life. Instead of wanting what you don’t have, appreciate all the little things that God has blessed you with in life.

by Jay Mankus

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