Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV 1984)
God said this to Cain after Cain’s offering was rejected and before Cain went and killed his brother. Cain did not master sin crouching at his door.
On why Cain’s offering was rejected: I’ve learned that it’s because he did not give the first fruits of his crop. Abel gave of the firstborn of his flock.
I attended a sermon given by Pastor Robert Morris before, and he said that God is big on tithing: the first of whatever you get is God’s. If you don’t give that to God, you’re stealing from God. This makes sense. It explains a lot of things in the Bible. Stuff like, why Achan and his family had to be stoned, after stealing some of the spoils from Jericho, which the LORD had said were to be His. Tithing is that important in the Bible. You’ll notice a lot of references to the “firsts”, when you read the Bible. I didn’t think much of it then. Afterwards, it all started to make sense.
Back to Cain.
He didn’t do what was right by not bringing the first fruits. He could still do right after that. The LORD was concerned about Cain. He knew that Cain was bitter. So He cautioned Cain with these words, but Cain failed to heed them.
I think a lot of times the LORD is also cautioning us with these words. We do something wrong, and the LORD wants us to ask forgiveness and move on. But we – I, at least, do this, I cannot speak for everyone – I do not always seek forgiveness and move on. I wallow in my mistake and berate myself. It’s a vicious time for me. And if I let it go on, I end up sinning more.
Perhaps Cain experienced something similar. I don’t know for sure.
But I think he knew what was right and what was wrong, even though the Law had not yet been written. Abel was able to do right after all. I do not think that was a coincidence. And all the times before that one time mentioned in the Bible when Cain did not bring the first fruits – surely they have given offerings to the LORD before then.
Perhaps Cain thought that he was doing right by not giving the first fruits. But I learned that God wants the first, and the first is not necessarily the best. Maybe Cain gave the best, and it was rejected because it was not the first.
By giving the first to God, we are returning what is His, and we are trusting Him to provide us with the rest of whatever it is we gave. It is just the first, after all. The other nine-tenths of the, shall we say, fruits are ours, but the first is His. We give Him the first, and we can be assured that we shall receive the rest also.
The rest is a blessing from God. If they’re better, praise God. If they are not better than the first, praise Him still, because He provided.
Tithing applies not only to objects, but to time as well, and to everything else we receive.
The first of our time should be spent with God. The first of our money should be given to Him. The first of our talents, the first of our gifts – all to Him.
Cain was angry after his offering was rejected. He wanted to do something about it. The LORD cautioned him to master sin crouching at his door, but Cain did not. Perhaps he would not.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We do something wrong, or something doesn’t go our way, and it angers us so much we just want to keep doing wrong – for a false sense of satisfaction. I know I’ve done something like that. I have acted in anger, and in my anger, I thought it would satisfy me, if I worsened the situation.
So my lesson from this: When I do something wrong, if I do something wrong, ask forgiveness, and move on. The devil can’t hold that against me anymore. God has erased my sin. I shouldn’t hold that against myself, either, because God has erased it.