Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
We do so many things today and make important decisions based on our emotions or feelings. Some trust their feelings to decide their commitments, their purchases, and direction they should take in their life. “I felt a little discouraged so I stayed at home.” “I felt good about buying that 54 inch flat screen TV.” I felt like it was time for me to move on.”
Others determine their responses in relationships based on how they feel. “I felt like giving him a piece of my mind so I did.” “I felt like I needed a change, so goodbye.” “I’m just not happy, maybe we should think about splitting up for a while.”
Some even bring God into the discussion to validate their feelings. “I felt like the Lord didn’t want me to reconcile the situation but just to move on.” “I felt like the Lord didn’t want me to go to Church anymore.” “I felt like the Lord said it was OK if we made love before we got married to see if we were compatible.”
Cain is an example of how responding wrongly to our negative feelings can have a long term impact on our life. When God didn’t receive Cain’s offering it says he “… became very angry and his countenance fell Genesis 4:5.” God then gave him the wisdom he needed to walk out and a warning if he continued going in the direction he was going in Genesis 4:7, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
Cain could do well and obey God and his countenance could be lifted or he could continue with his stirred feelings and anger which would cause him to be controlled by sin waiting at the door. CAIN WASN’T SINNED AGAINST BUT WAS OFFENDED. He chose to serve God his way while his brother served God in God’s way. Cain followed his feelings, took out his anger on his brother Abel, and ruined his own life. Like Cain, if we don’t master our emotions, our emotions can master us. Negative emotions are only temporary states of mind but acting through them and doing something foolish can mark our lives forever. Romans 12:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
There are two ways to get into trouble: sin, or go out and do wrong; or be sinned against and respond wrongly to it. When people sin against us, it doesn’t feel good or cause good emotions. It can sometimes outrage our senses and it takes some spiritual work to get on top of it. There is grace to help us work through it (Hebrews 4:16) as well as the help of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13). Suppressing the feelings of anger from the hurt or injustice from the sins against us can develop into a root of bitterness that will trouble our life and defile others (Hebrews 12:15). We can learn to walk in forgiveness and have a life marked by joy and peace instead of having our lives ruined and marked by following negative feelings of rage or anger.
We can always locate ourselves as to when we are carrying around an offense because it usually shows up in anger. I believe anger is the number one sign of an offended heart (Genesis 4:5, 6; 2 Kings 5:11; 1 Samuel 18:8; 2 Chronicles 16:10; Luke 4:28; Luke 15:28) and always walking around angry can indicate unforgiveness or holding on to an offense.
As Christians, forgiveness for those who hurt us leads to life and it is possible because the love of God is poured forth in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Certain things we must let go of, put away, and not hold onto as Ephesians 4:31, 32 instructs us to do, “31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”