Have always had trouble with the story of Cain and Abel. There are a few stories in the Bible that I just can’t understand, because they fly in the face of my fleshly desire for what I perceive to be justice, and this is one of them. (Jesus parable of the laborers who all get the same wage is another.) If God gave Cain the ability to till the fields and grow crops, why is the fruit of his labor not an acceptable offering? He brought what he had. Why was that wrong?
Part of God’s answer to Cain stuck out to me today. Genesis 4:7 says, “ If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Worship is costly, and for some people it costs more than others. Doing what is right is always better than doing what is wrong. What caught me, though, is the reminder that sin is crouching at the door. Failure to worship as God intends opens up that door. Worshipping in spirit and in truth puts a seal on the door. It wasn't Cain's offering that got him exiled from the land of his youth. His failure to worship as God intended opened the door to further temptation to sin. The break in his fellowship with God allowed space for sin to creep in and set up housekeeping. That's when his frustration turned to hatred against his brother.
I still sometimes feel like Cain. My offering isn’t good enough. Who I am isn’t good enough. I miss the mark. And I should feel that way, I guess, because it’s a reminder that my offering isn’t good enough, and I do miss the mark. That’s why I need Jesus.