Genesis 4:1–16, 25–26 comment (0)
January 15, 2009
By James C. Pounds Jr.
Related Scripture: Genesis 4:1–16, 25–26
Bible Studies for Life
Director of the Extension Division, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Show Fresh Respect
Genesis 4:1–16, 25–26
We live in a world that is in constant upheaval politically, environmentally, economically and ethically. And all of this applies a pressure that can be incredibly overwhelming. During such times, adults often focus on themselves and their concerns and lose sight of what it means to be God followers. When this happens, humans often begin to look upon each other as objects to be manipulated and used instead of respected. As we study these passages, let us remember to humbly appreciate God-given life and ask Him to show us new ways to demonstrate to the world the value of His greatest creation.
Recognize Life as a Gift (1–2)
After giving birth to Cain, Eve celebrated by giving God the credit and glory for this blessed event. She recognized that He is the One who allows the continuation of the human family and chooses to do so through the lives of men and women. We also learn that Eve later had a second son, Abel, and that both of these men grew up to pursue different occupations.
Beware of Self-Centeredness (3–8)
Scripture teaches Abel raised animals and Cain raised crops and in due time, each came to bring an offering to God. Abel brought meat from the best of his herd, and Cain presented fruit from his fields. But for some uncertain reason, God accepted Abel’s offering but refused that of Cain. This caused Cain to greatly resent and, ultimately, murder his brother.
Accept Accountability for One Another (9–12)
God knew full well what Cain had done, but He confronted him over it, asking him where his brother might be. Cain lied and refused responsibility, and the Lord punished him with a curse of lifelong toil.
Turn to the Lord (13–16, 25–26)
Cain realized this punishment would make him a target for vengeance, so he complained to the Lord. God heard his appeal and placed a special mark on him for the remainder of his life so that he would be protected. God then gave Adam and Eve a third son, Seth. And during Seth’s lifetime, people began to call on God.
This account, as familiar as it is, still points us toward a key failure in the history of mankind: the first murder. Cain got offended, embarrassed and hurt and reacted by killing his brother. When under the pressure this world brings, many of us choose to disregard the value of another in order to satisfy our own wants, needs and desires. We fail to remember all humans are priceless because they are made in the very image of God and carry the very breath of God. We fail to remember each life is a gift granted by the grace of God and needs to be respected and valued.
As God followers, He holds us accountable for showing a right concern for all human beings. Because God’s Spirit lives in all believers, He expects us to look out for all who might be in danger of abuse and seek their rescue and protection. This lesson calls us to recognize the sanctity of human life, and in the past, this has meant seeking an end to the lives lost and the pain caused by the abortion industry. But there are other sorts of life-devaluing activities going on in our world that require our attention as well. These include terrorism, legalized child labor, sexual trafficking, euthanasia and pornography to name just a few. This is serious business to God. Unlike the animals, He breathed life into man and made us in His own image. To kill another means to slay God’s image.
And God’s Word outlines clear punishment for taking another’s life. But “thou shalt not kill” is not the only commandment that requires we treat each other with the highest of respect.
God expects more from us — better from us — than to just casually use and abuse any human, young or old, He has created. There is a price that must be paid if we choose to live in this way. But there is hope for the world and us if we’ll be obedient to His commandments and treat each other in a manner pleasing to Him. We must decide to live in ways that are consistent with the character of the Father.