It is important for us to glean the main message of the account of Cain and Abel and apply it to our lives. Mainly that Abel did things God’s way and God respected his offering and Cain did things his way and it caused God to curse him. What I find more interesting though is the family dynamics of Cain and his much younger brother, Seth.
When God sent Cain away to be a fugitive and a vagabond in the land of Nod He allowed Adam and Eve to have another son, Seth, to take over the lineage of Abel. While Seth is growing and maturing though Cain starts a family of his own. He has a son, Enoch (not the one you’re thinking of), and the family line begins.
For brevity’s sake let me jump ahead a few generations to Cain’s great-great-great grandson Lamech and his children Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain. Each of these men were known for what they did. Jabal was “the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle” (Gen. 4:20), Jubal was “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” (Gen. 4:21), and Tubal-cain was “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron:” (Gen. 4:22). Their father, Lamech, is best known for killing someone in self-defense. These things aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they are things which they had done with their own skill and knowledge.
In contrast we see the generations of Seth in Genesis 4 and 5. Seth’s son, Enos was born and the Bible says of Enos and his children “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26). Even as we get generations further away from Seth we still see his family serving the Lord. His many times great grandson Enoch (the one you are thinking of) “walked with God:and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24). After Enoch we see his grandson Lamech name his son Noah because “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” (Gen. 5:29). Lamech looked to the Lord to comfort the faithful through his son. Of course we know Lamech’s son, Noah, “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:8) and was spared from the world-wide flood. In Seth’s generations we see not what the people did, but what God did through the people.
You might be thinking right about now ‘This is all interesting, but what’s the point?’ Well, the point is this: sometimes families can’t even agree about serving the Lord. Seth’s family did; Cain’s family did not.
We, as Christians, expect the world will like or accept our service to the Lord. The Apostle John even warns us of it in 1 John 3:13 “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” It is much more difficult to understand when it’s our own families though, especially if you were raised in a Christian home. We may know that our family members have heard the same teaching and preaching, been influenced by the same family members, and raised by the same parents. All of those things though cannot take away from the fact that some people want to serve the Lord, and some don’t.
Just look at Cain and Seth or Abel for that matter. All of them had been raised by the same parents. They had all definitely been taught the same things in school (not much option in those days after all). No doubt Adam and Eve had related to these sons and their other children the great price they had to pay for disobeying God’s clear command.They all probably knew where the Garden of Eden was and had maybe even even seen the cherubim who guarded the gate. Yet they had taken radically different paths in life which led to their family’s blessing or destruction.
After all that is said and we understand that people choose different paths in life, what can we do as Christians for those family members who either aren’t Christians or do not want to serve the Lord with the fervency we do? Here are a couple quick things that might help you:
- Love them. King Solomon tells us that “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17). We should exhibit the love of Christ to them any time we are able. If they have a problem, try to help them; if they need a shoulder to cry on, be that shoulder; if they don’t know where to turn, be the one pointing them in the right direction. People, especially family, know when we love them and when we have their best interests at heart.
- Pray for them. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16b) When was the last time you spent an hour in prayer for that family member and the trials they are going thru? Whether they are lost or running from the Lord they need prayer! Prayer also has an interesting dynamic with love: when I love someone, I pray for them more; when I pray for someone, I love them more.
- Stand firm in your convictions. We aren’t being a testimony to the world who doesn’t know God or those who are away from the Lord when we allow our convictions to be tossed away, even temporarily. A good example is activities that may take place on Sundays. We go to family reunions, dinners, birthday parties,etc. so long as they do not conflict with the regularly scheduled services at our church. If you have a birthday party at 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening we will not be there. We have to let people know that the Lord and His Church is more important to us that anything else, even family activities. This is just one example of the many that could be brought up. It’s not going to be easy and it may upset people but we should graciously and lovingly stand for what is right and good as we serve the Lord.
- Allow the Lord to do His Work in their lives. Yes, we should witness and speak of the Lord often to these family members. At the same time we must use discretion and wisdom when dealing with them to allow the Lord to do His Work in the hearts. If a family member experiences a tragedy or heartache the first words out of your mouth should never be ‘If you had been’ but rather ‘How can I help’. If the family member(s) in question were raised in a Christian home than they already know what God’s Word says about the situation and their lifestyle. We also have God’s promise that His World “shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing wherunto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11b). God will do His Work.
- Be the Christian you are supposed to be. Ultimately we have to decide that we are going to serve the Lord whether or friends or family do or not. Someday we will stand before Christ and give an account of our lives. Blaming your family for why you did not devote your life to Him will not be acceptable. In the same manner your family will have to give an account of their own actions, not you.