Wednesday, 4th March
Perhaps the most famous story of siblings in any literature is at the very beginning of Genesis. During the course of a mere three chapters the world is created; male and female are created and then expelled from Paradise. By the fourth chapter, male knows female; the result: two sons are born in quick succession and so too is the first case of sibling rivalry, and soon, of murder. Favouritism is the culprit. But neither parent is implicated. It is none other than God who plays favourites.
When Cain lets his disappointment and anger show, God responds rather enigmatically.
God’s next words go directly to the core of the matter: take charge of those emotions. Overcome them. If not, they will master you and trigger behaviour that you will regret. According to Genesis, favouritism is not the problem, but rather, one’s response to favouritism. The sooner Cain masters his injured feelings, the better off he will be. The challenge is hard, but not impossible. But Cain does not heed God’s warning. He responds by murdering his brother.
Elsewhere in the Book of Genesis these very words of warning by God receive a different outworking in the story of Esau and Jacob.
When Jacob steals Esau’s blessing, Esau is overwhelmed with grief, an instinctive response like that of Cain’s falling face. Unsurprisingly, this is closely followed by murderous intent. So, Jacob leaves home for a long time. Yet many years later when he returns home, Jacob remains fearful that Esau may yet wish to settle old scores. Astonishingly, when the brothers meet, Esau tearfully welcomes Jacob (33:4).
Esau found himself in a similar situation to that of Cain’s. Yet he has spectacularly done what Cain failed to do. He has mastered the beast of resentment, which might have devoured him; he has indeed done well.
- Help us not to be overwhelmed by anger and bitterness when others are favoured over and above us.
- Give us your grace and your strength end energy to overcome the feelings of rejection and frustration in our places of work and in our families. Lord help us to trust in you and give us the grace to respond with courage, compassion and godliness wherever we are confronted with situations of favouritism, inequality and injustice.
Lord keep us from envy and jealousy when we see others prosper. Help us to accept your blessing on others and to learn to celebrate the successes and achievements of our brothers and sisters.
March 14, 2020
February 25, 2020