When I was recently reading about Joseph, Genesis 37:4 stuck out to me: “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him” (NIV). The verse states that the brothers of Joseph could not speak a kind word to him. I considered that inability the brothers had and could not imagine not being able to say something kind to a person, even someone I am not very fond of or on good speaking terms. Even with someone who rubs me the wrong way, I am able to find something kind to say to that person.
The Bible says that the brothers of Joseph hated him. They were jealous that their father loved him more. Joseph was given a robe that would be something worn by royalty. We can see the damage favoritism can cause in our lives. Plus Joseph was also a bit of a tattle tale as well, and this surely caused more hatred to brew.
You may know some people who aren’t easy to love. Though it may be a challenge, we need to show these people love. As Jesus said, what is it to show love to someone who is easy to love? It is so much more to show love to those who can be a challenge—those who make us sacrifice—those who don’t make it so easy. If there is someone who rubs you the wrong way, go out of your way today to say something kind to that person. You might be surprised at how God will use your kind words.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:31-35 [NIV]
We are not told exactly why Cain’s offering was unacceptable but Abel’s was pleasing to God. In Genesis 4:3-4, we see that Cain brought “some” and Abel brought “the best.” I think if I had to choose between some or the best, I would choose the best. Then in verse 7, Cain is told, “You will be accepted if you do what is right.” It is clear that Cain did not do what was right, and that possibly was linked with a poor attitude that needed correction.
We see this attitude problem from Cain when he gets jealous because Abel’s offering was accepted. God warned Cain that sin was crouching nearby and the attitude needed to be changed, but Cain did not wish to move toward God and seek the remedy. Instead he invited his brother to an outing and then killed Abel. Matthew said that Abel was the first to die for the truth (23:35).
We all have a choice—to be more like Abel or more like Cain when it comes to pleasing God. We don’t know much about these brothers, but we do know a few things. Abel gave the best. Abel did what was pleasing to God. Cain did not present a suitable offering. Cain did not seek out God when told he needed to change his focus. Abel gave all; Cain gave some. Where do you fit? Are you giving the best? Are you trying to live a life pleasing to God? Or are you getting irritated and wanting to do things your own way?
“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 rule over it.’” – Genesis 4:6-7 [NIV]