“And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.'”
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain. And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’ Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’” Genesis 3:17-18; 4:1-9
A firstborn has a unique position, and Cain was not only his parents’ first child, but the first child to exist on earth, and the first to be born in sin, and it showed. We do not know the source of sibling rivalry or bickering that brewed, but we see tension between the first brothers in the description of their sacrifices to the LORD. Cain brought an offering, Abel brought first fruits. Perhaps the toil with thorns and thistles had gotten the best of this worker of the soil, and Cain resented that any of his hard-earned produce had to be given to a God Who made things hard for him. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12,19)
Resentment led to selfishness led to comparison led to jealousy led to anger. In mercy, the LORD addressed this sin tendency and offered a way to deliverance, but Cain rebelled and refused and let sin master him. His unchecked anger led to murder, and culpability disguised itself as denial and defensiveness.
Oh, beware the triggers that set off a stream of destruction! We are all victims of the fall, and all face thorns and thistles as a result. Yet we all have the grace of God to lead us to endure and flourish in this world, and can with firm faith rule over sin. (1 Peter 5:8-10)
What sets growing sin’s gangly tentacles in me? Infringements on my ‘rights’ to ease, self-sufficiency, and independence? Coming up short in comparison against another? Someone’s unreasonable request, bad attitude, biting words or tone of voice? Will I accept the Lord’s gracious offer to stem the irritant and step away?
Father, keep me vigilant in recognizing my sin and applying Your grace and victory at first hint. (John 16:33)