I’m reflecting on Genesis 1-11 at present. And I’m struck by the account of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Both bring an offering to God. God accepts Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. Cain’s response is anger, which grows into fratricide.
It is generally taken that God accepts Abel’s offering because Abel’s heart is right before God, and rejects Cain’s offering because Cain’s heart was not right before God. But the account doesn’t give this or any reason why God accepts Abel’s offering and not Cain’s. And God’s observation that “if you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” is not a justification for rejecting Cain’s offering but a lesson in how we ought to respond when God chooses someone else instead of us.
God does not give Cain the (dubious) luxury of a theology of Original Sin as an excuse:
sin is something outside of him;
which desires to devour him;
but he must master, or exercise rule over, sin – and therefore by implication of the command, it is possible to do so.
The Methodist Covenant Prayer says this:
I am no longer my own, but Yours:
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whom You will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You,
Exalted for You or brought low by You;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
The implication of the account of Cain and Abel, the implication of the Methodist Covenant Prayer, is this:
God is free to respond to us as he chooses;
his not choosing to respond the way we hope does not mean that he does not love us;
and how we respond to being exalted or brought low alike matters.