Summary: How envy can destroy family life



The animal kingdom is fascinating to observe. There is fierce competition that exists within various species. For example, the wild Dogs of Africa are competitive for their mates. In a documentary one pack of dogs revealed this struggle for dominance. The male dog had two females in the pack. One was dominant over the other. When the females both had pups the dominant female killed all the pups of the other female except one. This one, however, eventually died from malnutrition. I’m not trying to put human emotions in animal behaviors. But in this documentary it appeared that these animals showed the human emotion of envy. It seems that the more dominant female was envious of the weaker female. The lives of the first family of earth provide and excellent illustration of the growth of envy.

Let’s read Genesis 4:1-15

The Bible says that Adam knew his wife that is sexually. Eve conceived and Cain was born. What a sheer delight it must have been to Eve when out of the agony of childbirth a new human being was born. The statement made by Eve must have been an exclamation, "I have gotten a man from the Lord!"

Why would Eve have been so excited? At the birth of Cain, Eve must have remembered the promise of God that He would send a Messiah. A Savior would come from his seed. (Genesis 3:15). Cain’s name means acquisition (Acquirer of a promise from God). This must be the Savior she thought. Cain would free them from their sin. But she was wrong. God promised and it was to be fulfilled, but it God’s own timing, not hers. Shortly after Cain’s birth, Abel was born. Abel was possibly the twin brother of Cain. The joy Eve experienced at the birth of Cain changed to indifference at the birth of Abel. Abel’s name means “Transitory”. Abel in the eyes of his mother was fleeting, temporary, empty, and vain. Here we see in the first family union the formation of an ideal seedbed for the growth of ENVY. Cain was the apple of his parent’s eye. This was apparent by the profession he taken as at á man. Adam his father is a tiller of the soil so Cain is just like his dad. Cain is the dominant son of the family. All the hopes and aspirations of Adam and Eve are in their son. Abel was different. His less favored position in the family resulted in his leading the solitaire life of a shepherd. We all remember the shepherd in the Bible, David. What a man of God he became! It is possible that because of his lesser position in the family that Abel found his comfort and solace in God. He loved God and sought to be obedient to Him.

The Bible doesn’t say why Cain and Abel made an offering but it does tell us whose was accepted. Apparently the difference was in the attitude of the heart. Cain expected that God would accept his offering simply because of his place in the family. God, however, knew his heart and would not accept the offering. Abel, on the other hand, offered a sacrifice more pleasing to God because in his shepherding he knew the kind of offering God desired. His heart was right with God. But Cain was not only shocked, he was angry. Why was he NOT God’s favorite? Haven’t my parents reminded me of my unique relationship with God? Am I not the promise one? My mother told me so.

Such is the beginning of ENVY. The seed was planted and it had taken root in the heart of Cain "So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” ENVY consumed Cain and all he could think about was revenge. Let’s recognize that God’s attitude toward Cain was no different from his attitude toward his brother Abel. God approached Cain and asked why he was so angry. God shared with Cain that his attitude was important and that a changed attitude would allow him to be accepted. Notice the warning God gives to Cain. “Cain be careful with your attitude! If it continues like it is now, sin will be the result.” When a person makes ENVY the desire of his heart, then ENVY will ultimately rule over one’s life. Cain didn’t heed God’s warning and he killed his brother Abel. Was there remorse or guilt in Cain? And the Lord said, “Where is your brother, Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground.’

There was no remorse in Cain, only sorrow that he got caught. Even judgment didn’t bring true repentance. Such is the disease called ENVY. This family became the seedbed for ENVY. What about your family? Is love demonstrated equally to all members of the family? Is favoritism practiced? When the family nurtures the sin of ENVY by favoring one against the other, it eventually erupts in broken relationships and shattered lives.

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