February 10, 2021 — The Root of Bitterness

Nothing grows like the root of bitterness, and nothing kills it like a good dose of honesty.

The wise king Solomon wrote, “Love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave” (Song 8:6). These are the two ruling passions of life. Selfless love, in its rightful place, is the greatest thing in the world, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13. Love is the strong desire to sacrificially give, but this kind of bitter jealousy wants to ruthlessly take what belongs to someone else. And as our story shows today, it really is as cruel as the grave. They say jealousy is like someone drinking poison, hoping that the other person will die. Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, hated his brother Abel because he thought the way to God was by personal attainment, not by atonement. Instead of loving him as a big brother should, Cain hated that Abel’s offering had been accepted by God and his had not. God Himself counseled Cain to be careful not to be overcome with his anger and selfishness. But instead of humbly learning from Abel about the way to be accepted by God, he hatched a plot to spoil his brother’s special relationship with the Lord. How could he do it? He would kill him! Jealousy is not only cruel; it’s blind too! Couldn’t Cain see that, by committing this act of treachery against his brother, he was actually killing his own opportunity to receive the grace that God was offering him? Genesis 4:8 reads, “It came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” It seems he tried covering up his crime by burying his brother’s body, but God said to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (v 10). The sooner we learn this life lesson, the better off we are: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).