The story of Cain and Abel is tossed around rather generally in both Christian and non-Christian circles. Many folks are aware of the big picture aspect of the account—namely, that the older brother murdered the younger—but beyond that, little is known and even less is applied to everyday life. But woven within and between the lines of this amazing story are several insights that await our discovery.
The path of humanity is littered with the trash of depravity. Instead of being shining examples of beauty, righteousness, and perfection, we have darkened the world with hostility, hatred, and unrest. War and brutality score the history of humankind. Deceit and wickedness make up our story. Even our best—courageous warriors, heroes of humanity, graceful artists—fall embarrassingly short of perfection.
To truly learn from Abraham’s life, we must think what he thought, hear what he heard, feel what he felt, go where he went, and most of all, learn what he learned. Among the many benefits of studying the life of a man of God is the opportunity to discover truths about the God of that man.
When God promised to accomplish specific things for certain individuals and people groups in biblical times, those promises were unbreakable. God’s unconditional promises to a man named Abram stand as an enduring example of God’s faithfulness to His own word.
When we look more closely at Abram, we begin to see his imperfections. We realize this icon of faith had feet of clay. When a famine hit, rather than standing firm in faith and trusting his God to sustain him and his wife, he fled to Egypt. We can learn lessons from faithful Abram’s temporary and tragic slump into deceit and disobedience.
As followers of our Lord, we believe He leads us in a certain direction in pursuit of a precise goal. His leading is unmistakably clear. Not necessarily logical or explainable, but clear.
Moving to the unfamiliar and unknown was what God called Abram to do. How could he do it? Why would he want to? The answer is found in one word: obedience.
Throughout his life, Abram faced a variety of tests that stretched his faith and deepened his dependence on God. When faced with his next challenge, Abram followed the Spirit. This time, his nephew Lot, failing to learn from his uncle’s mistake, was the one who made a decision that led to disaster.
Sadly, in our fallen world, small-hearted people are the norm, making the few genuinely great-hearted people stand out all the more. Among their thin ranks stands Abram, who not only gave his short-sighted nephew the choicest land but also rescued him when his choice got him into trouble! We can learn a lot from Abram, the great-hearted.
By listening in on this chat between God and Abram and examining the dynamics of the relationship between these two friends, we can discover important dimensions in our own intimate relationships with the Almighty.