Simply put, Cain was selfish. It’s no wonder that one of the first vignettes of beginning times deals with selfishness.
Selfishness is the hinge that opens the door to sin.
We need look no farther than our own selves to see clearly that at the root of sin is selfishness.
Cain and Abel brought gifts to God. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel brought his in faith and Cain did not. When God looks deep within to my motivation of why I do what I do, why I live the way I live, does He see a heart of faith that seeks Him, one that depends on Him, one that is grateful to Him—or does He see selfishness, selfishness that’s seeking what I want, a focus on me?
When God looked favorably on Abel and not on Cain, Cain was angry, very angry, and it showed on his face. Cain was mad at God, but he did not act out toward God. So often, anger toward God is denied and retaliation is directed toward a brother, a good brother.
Knowing Cain’s anger toward Himself, knowing Cain would focus that anger on Abel, God sought out Cain and He said, “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.”
At the root of sin is selfishness. It’s all about me—my life, my desires, my everything.
A selfish heart is as natural to people as a baby’s first breath. How can one ever master it? These might help.
Acceptance: Sometimes we’re in a mess because of our own decisions, but sometimes it’s right where God wants us. I guess the trick is knowing the difference. If we’re where God wants us (in this job, in this marriage, in this illness), we need to be all right with that. That is faith.
Caring for others: Does every decision start with “what I should” or “what I want”? Do we live according to biblical principles or every selfish desire? To live biblically often requires some self-discipline. It’s what gets a mother up in the middle of the night and sends a dad to a job he doesn’t care for each morning. That is not easy, but it’s being faithful.
Rejoicing with others: “The grass is always greener…” And on this snowy February morning, I think it’s greener anywhere but here. Someone else’s life is always going to look better if we let ourselves go there. Be glad for someone else’s accomplishment or blessing. Trust in a sovereign God. That is faith.
God knows who we are. He knows our passions. He knows our hearts. And we must master the selfishness within, and we can only do that by faith in a faithful God.