Monday, March 16, 2009


Oh, that my daughters were always this sweet to one another! Big sister was just so happy that little sister decided to come home for Spring Break this year, she couldn't contain herself! What is your family ranking? Your birth order? It’s not necessarily the same question, is it? Sibling rivalry is as old as Creation, and today we get to look at its origin. Let’s take my own children for example. Trina, our firstborn, has studio baby pictures beginning at birth, three months, six months, nine months, a year, two years, and three years-old. Like clockwork. Poor Emily, our second born, has a hospital newborn photo, two studio photos taken sometime before she was three years-old, and I think the rest of her studio shots include her sister. You get the picture (pun intended)? Further confessions of a downhill mommy – Trina’s baby book is completed; Emily’s is hit-and-miss after age 2. The perils of the second born. However, before you begin feeling too sorry for little Emily, let me tell you the nickname she earned by age four, “Little General.” Because even though her sister is two years older, Emily could always wrap Trina around her little finger at will. Here’s an example. It’s Christmas time 1991, and the girls are pretending the nativity scene. Emily wants to be Mary, so she tells Trina, “I’ll be Mary; you be Joseph.” Trina defiantly refuses. Emily says, “Okay. You be Joseph, and I’ll be Mary.” Trina, feeling victorious, says, “That’s better!” And off they go, Emily with the Mary blanket securely fastened around her head, Trina marching away with the Joseph staff/mop in hand. A few seconds later, Trina realizes she’s been duped, but Emily reminds her that she’s already agreed. And big sister with the soft heart rolls her eyes, stomps her foot and says, “Next time I get to be Mary!” So who exactly was born to privilege in this family? We’ll get a snapshot of Adam and Eve’s feuding boys, and you can see how to truly judge privilege….

Gen. 4:1-2a – “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’ Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.”

  • Notice how Eve spoke of God’s interaction with her in bringing forth her firstborn – so much so that it influenced Cain’s name. Then notice the complete absence of God in the reporting of Abel’s birth. Think about how important a name was. “Cain” meant, “brought forth” or “acquired” because Eve acknowledged that the LORD helped her bring forth a man. Scripture doesn’t tell us what Abel means, but the Hebrew word means, “breath, temporary, meaningless.” How about that for establishing your self-worth at an early age? Or did Adam and Eve simply know somehow that he would live for a short time? Either way, life is different for someone named, “temporary and meaningless.” If you were Cain, wouldn’t you feel privileged?

Gen. 4:2b-5 – “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”

  • I’ve heard lots of sermons and commentary on the offerings and attitudes of these brothers. Had God instructed them on appropriate offerings? Dunno. Did Cain bring second-class grain, while Abel brought his best? Probably (Heb.11:4), but dunno specifics. Scripture DOES tell us clearly, however, that when God corrected Cain, he reacted in anger. That’s what PRIVILEGED spoiled brats do. Yes, it matters what the offering was, but it matters MORE how Cain reacted to God’s correction. And right now, in this moment, it matters MOST how you and I react to God’s correction…

Gen. 4:6-7 – “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’”

  • God asked Cain to simply make the right choice, and he would be accepted. But PRIVILEGE says, “I want to do what I want to do – and still be accepted.” Then privilege becomes indignant when it’s judged unacceptable. Privilege wants us to treat sin as a pet, a little indiscretion. God tells Cain that sin desires to “HAVE” him, which leads me to believe that every time I choose sin, sin gains more of a hold on me. Flip side: every right choice brings us one step closer to mastering the sin that seeks to “have us.”

Lord, with every breath, I have the choice to do what is right or give sin a stronghold in my life. Privilege seeks to live in my own world, pleasing myself no matter what pleases God. How often do I truly sacrifice my own desires to please You, to seek You, to discover what kind of offering You truly desire from me? If I bring You an offering, and You disapprove, will I be like Cain and stomp off mad? Or will I take the time to listen for the changes You desire? Lord, search me. Show me. The only privilege I desire is Your presence and Your pleasure.

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