The Quest for Acceptance (Part I)

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”  Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.  Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,  but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4:1-6

The story of Cain and Abel reveals our need for acceptance and the danger to achieve it in our own way.  Cain and Abel both brought an offering to the Lord. Abel brought an animal sacrifice, and the Lord accepted it. However, Cain decided to bring an offering from the produce of his own hands, and it was not accepted by the Lord.

Seeing Cain’s displeasure, the Lord explained to Cain that if he did well, he would also be accepted. The Lord also told Cain that if he chose not to do well, he was opening the door to sin. God both encouraged and warned Cain about his relationship with Him. This was Cain’s opportunity to get it right and bring the kind of offering that the Lord expected.

Instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, Cain took God’s correction as rejection and became angry! Cain took it further by directing his anger towards Abel and thinking that God’s rejection was due to the fact that Abel’s sacrifice was better. Cain could have had the opportunity to ask the Lord for forgiveness.  However, he chose to focus on Abel for his problems.

There are times that we look at those around us and consider them to be the obstacle to our acceptance.  Spouses complain about each other for being an obstacle for fulfilling God’s plan in their lives. Children rebel against their parents accusing them of holding them back from living to the fullest. Some are discontent with their jobs because they see their coworker as the obstacle for them being liked by the boss.  Some women compete for their desire to develop good friendships. People try to destroy one another by backbiting and gossip just so that they can be accepted. All the while, the person is aware of their areas of shortcomings that they can be working on. Instead of asking the Lord to help them, they blame others for their problems.

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Genesis 4:8

Cain chose to kill his brother, even though Abel was not the problem. Abel had nothing to do with Cain’s offering not being accepted.  Cain could have been the only child, and his sacrifice still would not have been accepted by God. Cain had the option of running to God, but he didn’t. Instead of humbly accepting God’s correction, he became angry. He also ignored God’s warning about sin desiring to control him. He opened the door to the sin of murder, which eventually led him to living a life of fugitive and a vagabond.

When we try to strive for acceptance in our own carnal ways and ignore God’s instructions, we open the door to all kinds of evil including rejection, loss of relationships, hurting people, and living in a dry land as a vagabond on a quest for acceptance.

Do you feel accepted? If not, who do you see as your obstacle to acceptance? Do you trivialize God’s correction? Do you have a tendency to blame others for your problems? Are you angry at others who seem to be accepted? Do you find yourself moving from job to job, relationship to relationship, or church to church because you don’t find acceptance? Ask the Lord to show you and let Him speak to you about this important issue.