The story of Cain and Abel is a warning to us all that we have to approach God as He wants and can’t treat Him lightly or without reverence. The questions God asks Cain show us His kindness and mercy, for these are opportunities to repent, understand emotions and find favour with God. It’s interesting that this story focuses so much on Cain and where he went wrong, and we learn very little about Abel in this chapter. The writer to the Hebrews, however, says, ‘By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.’ (Hebrews 11:4) Ultimately, we see that Abel’s offering was an offering of faith, and faith is always acceptable to God. Ultimately, we see that it’s Abel who is listed in that hall of heroes of faith, not Cain, because Abel brought an offering by faith and by faith he was commended as righteous. Faith is what made the difference between the two brothers. Faith really matters.
Cain teaches us that we need to respond positively to God’s questions, be prepared to dig deep into our own hearts and turn to God in repentance and faith so that we may enter into the life for which Christ died. If we do this, then we can have mastery over sin and can live lives of faith which please God and bring great rewards. Paul describes this in Romans 6 when he talks about being slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. It matters hugely whose slave we are. It matters that we listen to God and respond to Him in repentance, humility and faith.