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A Life Lesson Worthy of a Sermon

Jesus introduced the concept of spiritual life lessons during a conversation with a Pharisee described in John 3:1-21. As part of Jesus’ inner circle, John was either nearby praying or eavesdropping when this took place. Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus’ controversial teaching but was afraid of what his Jewish peers might think so he met with Jesus under the cover of darkness. Jesus spoke about the need to be spiritually reborn which Nick greets with sarcasm. As Jesus continues, Nick is left speechless.

And Cain said to his brother, [b]Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And [the Lord] said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed by reason of the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand, Genesis 4:8-11.

After Adam and Eve experienced conviction and shame following a bite from the Tree of Knowledge, more emotions are introduced by Moses in Genesis 4. Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, enduring the same curse placed upon the earth’s ground as fertile soil surrounding Eden transitioned into an arid desert. Meanwhile, Abel decided to become a shepherd who could move his flock when a land ceased to grow grass. As Cain struggled daily, Abel began to prosper.

But I say to you that everyone who continues to be [ad]angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be [ae]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be [af]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You [ag]cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be [ah]liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. 23 So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, 24 Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison, Matthew 5:22-25.

When God asked each man to provide what the Bible refers to a first fruits offering, Abel freely departed with his firstborn sheep. This gift pleased the Lord greatly. When Cain scrounged up what he could from his fields, God was not impressed with his offering. According to Genesis 4:6-7, Cain had become bitter, envious, jealous and deeply depressed. Seeing Cain’s downcast disposition, God approached Cain, intervening this time before he could make a brash decision like his parents in the garden.

But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. 15 This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). 16 For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices, James 3:14-16.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, one of the first topics mentioned after the Beatitudes is properly dealing with a jealous heart. If you allow envy or jealousy to fester, Ephesians 4:26-28, this allows the Devil to get a foothold inside of you. Subsequently, Jesus equates hatred with murder as the more jealousy takes control of your emotions, your sinful nature starts to plant thoughts within your mind on how to get rid of this threat. Cain listened to and acted upon his thoughts. May Cain’s story help you stop envy and jealousy before it takes root and poisons your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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