Genesis 4:1-5: Cain’s appraisal.

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.  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.”  NIV UK

I remember a friend saying that if you cut yourself off from feedback you impoverish yourself. Potentially, you may be stunting your own growth. I recently heard a church leader say that it’s good to have someone speak into your life from a different perspective (even though it may not always be welcome!) His point was: ‘Where someone else sits affects what they see.’ If they sit somewhere other than where your chair is located, their vision can assist you. Well, Cain’s ‘appraisal’ did not go well. He turned down the opportunity to change.

What you do with truth you don’t want to hear reveals something of your character, and it will undoubtedly affect the course of your life.

Gordon McDonald has said that even in the most unjust criticism, there is usually a grain of truth we can learn from – if we are willing.

‘Cain’s true heart was revealed when the Lord rejected his offering. And how true this is of human nature! When people are affirming and praising us, it’s very easy to be nice. The test comes when we are criticised or rejected; how do we react then? How can we tell if a grape is ripe? We squeeze it, and we see if the juice is sweet or bitter. Cain was ‘’squeezed,’’ and out came bitterness.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.139.

PRAYER: Lord, it’s not easy to be rebuked. You know I’d be lying if I said I liked it. But there are things I need to hear if I’m going to change and grow. Help me to be brave; enable me to be willing to receive helpful feedback. Teach me to be a life-long learner. I’ve never really liked taking medicine, but if that rather yucky stuff on the spoon is going to make me better, then I’m ready to swallow it. Lord Jesus, you know better than I do that I desperately need that which will keep me from sin and make me more holy.