Recently, we had a small group meeting at our house in which the topic of discussion was Cain and Abel. As I lead the group, I realized that what was being discussed was something that many parents may need to hear—first, some back story.
As a parent, I know I’ve made mistakes. I’ve done things as an adult that I believe have impacted my children, for good and bad. And as their father, I often struggle with this. I’m supposed to protect my children, not harm them. Still, it almost seems inevitable. I, like many other parents, have had at least one responsible child blame me for his/her actions. Truth be told, in some way, I have felt responsible. Sin causes sin, right? Adam and Eve sinned, causing all who followed to sin. Right? All, except for Christ.
Before we look at Cain and Abel, I want to take note of the obvious truth that all parents should take a moment to recognize. I did not force my child to do the action I was being blamed for. Although I knew this, it hadn’t fully sunken in at first. And my job at that point, as a parent, was to offer the best guidance possible. But, how can I do that while another person is holding me accountable for their actions causing me to feel guilt, shame, and even anger?
Without giving you the full account of Cain and Abel verbatim, let me suggest you read it in Genesis chapter 4. The account starts with Adam making love to his wife and Eve giving birth which is covered in versus 1 and 2. After that, guess how many times Adam and Eve are mentioned in this historical account. None! At least not until the end, after God has dealt with Cain, and only then are they mentioned to say Adam and Eve had another son—Seth.
When Cain’s sacrifice is offered to God and rejected, God held Cain accountable. He told Cain, “… If you do right, will you not be accepted?” Then, God went on to give Cain a warning about sin, how it desired to have Cain. That’s a pretty strong warning.
Later, when Cain kills Abel, Adam and Eve are not mentioned yet again. Is it because it wasn’t important to them or vice versa? I had to tell my own parents that my brother had died. I can guarantee you that this was all very important to Adam and Eve, that the death of Abel tore at their hearts, reminding them that their own sin allowed for this to happen. Yet, God did not go to Adam or Eve to tell them this. Instead, He goes to Cain and punishes Cain for his own sin.
How often as parents do we dwell on our mistakes and either make excuses for our adult children or allow them to cast blame for their choices on us? As children, how often have we done this with our own parents? Instead, isn’t it better to stay focused on the good so that we are better equipped to handle the bad when it comes? If we allow ourselves to be consumed with grief over our past mistakes, how can we be there to love and offer good guidance to anyone else?
Here’s my point—rather, suggestion. If you are a parent with mistakes in your past, forgive yourself and move on. Ask God’s forgiveness. If you need to ask forgiveness of a person, do that too. Once it’s over, let it be over. Don’t allow a child (or anyone else) to bring it back up and anger you by trying to justify or shift accountability of their own misdeed. Instead, move forward in love and offer to bare the burden with him/her. Or, perhaps you’re a child who hasn’t forgiven a parent. As you see in Cain and Abel, holding onto a hurt (as Cain did) only leads to more hurt—sin leads to sin. Instead, allow God’s love and forgiveness to flow in and through you, allowing you to heal in His time.
Well, that’s all for this blog. I hope you find it helpful, and God bless!