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 for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7 ESV)
Since the beginning pages of history, we have been witness to the pain of the first parents on the planet dealing with sibling rivalry and strife. For Adam and Eve, they suffered the ultimate loss of their son, Abel. In a moment of raging sibling rivalry, their firstborn, Cain – a son they most likely loved just as much – took the life of his brother in cold blood.
I can’t imagine losing a child to murder, especially at the hands of one of my own, but this is what Eve had to bare. Oh the questions that must have gripped her heart! Was there something she missed? Could she have prevented it? Was she too busy to be attentive to their development and needs? Oh the doubts and condemnation that must have flooded her heart and mind.
Before it happened, God saw and warned Cain that he was ‘on the edge’ . . . that sin was crouching at the door of his heart. Cain had gone through the motions and presented a ‘sacrifice’ to the LORD, but . . . God looked upon his heart:
We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12 ESV)
Sometimes we can successfully force our children to ‘go through the motions’ but in reality, their hearts may be elsewhere. As parents, we are commissioned to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ . . . this is true. But as Adam and Eve learned, our children have free will and will choose for themselves whether to welcome any sin that is crouching at their door, or to slam the door shut and run towards the Lord. It is heartbreaking and frustrating to not have control and to ‘make’ them choose wisely, but alas, we must. God has made it clear that it’s not about modifying behavior, but a true surrender of the heart.
Father, thank You for showing us the painful loss of wayward children in Your first book to us. Help us to cling to You when we see our children choose poorly. Sweet Jesus, release us from any condemnation that the enemy would try to place on us. Thank You that You are a God full of comfort and that You love our children even more deeply than we do. Holy Spirit, pursue and draw them with Your kindness! In Jesus name, Amen.
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