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You know, I feel kind of sorry for Cain. He just wanted God to like him. He killed Abel because he was jealous for God’s acceptance, but doing that just increased the distance between him and God, who couldn’t let a murderer stay in his presence. Bible study groups and such tend to focus on the fact that he wasn’t good enough because he didn’t have the right attitude, but God was clear about where he stands when he gave Cain his mark. He didn’t want Cain to end up like that but even if everyone else is wrong, God has to be right, and being right means that when Cain chose to be jealous and kill Abel instead of asking for Abel’s advice or help, God had to kick him out.

Cain’s just a fool, and I think that at least I, if nobody else, have similar feelings to Cain. A lot of times, I think that I’m trying properly, but other people think that my attitude isn’t good or that I lack character. They might be right. But it’s frustrating, upsetting, and angering for me when I think that I hauled major effort and someone looks at the results and sees laziness or lack of consideration. Personally, I don’t think that I have an instinct for doing the right thing, and whenever I see someone being considerate, I mentally kick myself (“Why didn’t I see that this needed doing?”) and I’m jealous because that’s the kind of person that I wish I were.

That doesn’t justify Cain displacing his frustration onto Abel. But when we talk about him, we shouldn’t try to distance ourselves from him, by making the lesson about having the right attitude or about not being haters. Abel’s a good person but the story isn’t about him. The lesson should be that we’re just like Cain, or at least I am, and Cain is exactly why y’all need Jesus… … OK but seriously, not killing people doesn’t mean that we’re any better and the purpose of grace is for the sake of people exactly like Cain, people who want to please God but can’t. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

God didn’t sacrifice Jesus for us to be like, “Cain, that horrible, horrible person”—he did that so that if people like Cain turn around and say, “God, I just wanted to be good enough but I screwed up and I’m tired of this whole trying-not-to-screw-up-but-screwing-up-anyway thing,” instead of God saying, “I’m sorry but you’re done for,” God can say, “Way ahead of you.”

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