Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Ugly Shade of Green : Its Genesis

Historically speaking, it seems to me that jealousy is one of the very first evidences of human depravity. Just ask Abel (supposing we could... actually, one day we probably will.)

You know the story. Cain was a farmer, Abel a herdsmen. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm, Abel brought an offering from the firstborn animals of his herd. God didn't approve of Cain's offering, Abel's He did. (Genesis 4:3-5, The Message)

And Cain was ticked off... with God.

Who are you to tell me that what I have offered is not acceptable? Cain had a little of his father in him, some Sinatra too... I did it myyyyyyy waaaaaaay! I can see him now... face flushed, palms sweating, heart racing, blood pressure spiking, pupils dilating, teeth grinding, fists clenched. Heck, I can almost feel it myself. Am I alone here?

The quality in Abel (i.e., his faith, see Hebrews 11:4) that would arouse Cain's jealousy toward his brother could have just as easily been cause for admiration and affection. But that's not what happened because jealousy was not the primary passion revealing itself in that moment... jealousy was the fruit of Cain's anger... and his anger was toward God... and he was angry with God because God told him that he had not done well, that he had failed to do the right thing... and when God pricks our hearts with his truth it has the tendency to make us furious, fighting mad, and vengeful... so Cain asked his brother to take a walk... and you already know the rest of the story... Cain was angry and then became jealous and then he hated/murdered his brother.

But I'm thinking there's at least one other layer to unwrap here. The murder is easy to see and so is the jealousy and so is the anger with God... it's all very explicit in the story. But here's something deeper to consider... can't tell you if I'm right or not, but I'll go with it anyway... and here it is, one word: blessing. Cain didn't have God's blessing. I'm not talking about 'blessing' as in steady rains and crop abundance. I'm talking about 'blessing' as in favor and pleasure and regard (as the text puts it in Genesis 4:4-5).

And we ALL, in the deepest parts of our soul, want God's blessing, His favor, his kindness towards us, His approval, His regard. Every single one of us. Cain's parents had it at one time... God looked at everything He had made one day, Adam and Eve included, and He said this is so good. Adam and Eve had peace with God, peace with each other, and neither one of them knew anything about shame. And then Hell entered the garden and God's blessing was gone... not His presence, not His mercy and not His grace, but His blessing... His regard and pleasure and favor for what was taking place... gone... everything had changed... and the results infected the hearts of Adam's sons like staph infects the bloodstream.

There is a beautiful reality to the larger story here... God's blessing, the affirmation we all desire, is available to everyone, and it is available via what I will call The Way of Abel... and it's called faith. Abel offered his best in faith and he received God's blessing. Cain didn't offer his best, for whatever the reason, and did not receive God's blessing.

And the results were catastrophic.

God help us to live by faith. Thank You for the blessing comes with that.

It is impossible to please God without faith. --Hebrews 11:6


Kelli said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am inspired by your love for God and the message your family gives to the world.

lazrus2 said...

I've been reading and enjoying your blog for quite a while, but this post really 'stirred some things in me' enough to finally comment =).

I appreciate your insights re: anger's connection with jealousy, and hadn't thought about it having its source in feeling 'unapproved' by God. That is very true I believe.

I wonder though if one can also initially feel 'approved' by God UNTIL someone else 'comes on the scene' that seems to be 'approved more'?

I think it's so easy then to get our eyes onto that person (and our inadequacies by 'comparison') that we take our focus off God. When we do that, we feel His disapproval and it only accentuates the downward spiral of anger, jealousy, and hurtful responses.

I just thought that might relate to more who at one time had no problem feeling 'approved by God' until someone else entered the picture. Although, if that's the case, it might have actually been more the approval of man than God(?).

I've certainly 'been there' and don't care to revisit it again =}!
And you’re also right, the only way out is to ‘fix our eyes’ upon Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith(Heb. 12:2 ).

Thanks again for your wise insights.


Angie said...

Oh such a wonderful message.

Misty Rice-Baniewicz said...

I was driving the other day after having a bit of a breakdown myself over my exhuastion that week. I was giving myself a pitty party...when all of the sudden you and your family come to my mind.

It hit me at that moment that I had a choice that day. I had the option to let all that was piling up on me upset me or not. I had a choice...

I was reminded instantly that not everyone has a choice....I was choosing sadness, when as others are forced to experience sadness one day and for the rest of their lives here on earth.

I just started bawling and praying for you guys. I haven't left a comment in awhile, but I still check in on you all the time.

We need our Summer fix.... post some more pictures.

God Bless.

txmomx6 said...

This is an emotional comment for me, Greg. As you may or may not know .... my husband, my first love, my soul-mate, the man I cleaved to for over 25 years and 6 kids, was ripped from my life one year ago (Dec.18, 2007) quite suddenly and quite horrifically. I had faith. I never doubted during that 24 hours that God would spare Jim because he was such a godly man who had a great influence in our community and had so, so much work left to do.
But I was wrong. I never doubted that he would survive. Not one single second. And then, in spite of the thousands of prayers going up all over the world...... he didn't.
And since that day, my life has been full of small, medium and large attacks. There have been no breaks. No time to just grieve for the other half of my body, heart and soul. And now, it is my health that is up in the air. Today I had a biopsy to see if I have cancer. At this point, after the past 13 months of too much crap to handle, I will honestly tell you that if the diagnosis is not cancer, I will be surprised.
I am weary. I have worked for God all my life. I've had unwavering faith in him all my life. But today, this day, I am angry and I am weary. I have no problem telling God all of this because his shoulders are broad and his back is strong.
I SO long for God's blessing. So much that it's hard to put into words.
I've had faith: unwavering, strong, undoubting faith.
And now .... for this moment in my life .... my faith has taken a leave of absence. I cannot pray and so I rely on the grace and kindness of my friends and the friends I've made through my blog ..... I rely on their prayers and on their beliefs.
I have lived by faith for so, so long. And now, this day, this moment .... I cannot.
I am too weary to muster it up.
And so I rely on people like you ..... to have enough faith for me. To carry me through with your strength until I am strong enough, one day, to carry it myself .... and then strong enough to carry it for others.
So thank you. Thank you for this blog and for your sharing and for your faith. Sometimes God uses your faith to help carry others who don't have enough.
So thank you.

txmomx6 said...

Thank you, Greg. Thanks for the private-mail and thank you for acknowledging what I am feeling.
Please dont' worry ....I felt nothing negative from your post. It is just my time to struggle and to keep struggling. i am weary of the struggle and I definitely don't see the plan behind the struggle. I know that He has the big plan ...... I just sometimes wonder how weary I am and in that weariness, which never seems to end ..... how much longer i can hold out;
Thank you so much for your personal e-mail