When you have come up short, or have been "found out" about something, how do you respond? Are you inclined to feel horrible and hopeless, or might you look to deflect attention by finding fault with someone else? Cain, the third person alive on the planet, was similarly challenged, and he did not fare well.
Cain brought the first fruits of his crops to God as an expression of worship. His brother, Abel, brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. God received Abel and his offering, but He did not favorably receive Cain and his offering, and Cain became angry. God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? … 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.” (Genesis 4:6-7) What a powerful message! Unfortunately, Cain did not heed the word of the Lord, and it resulted in a death and a cursed existence.
We don’t know for sure why Cain’s offering wasn’t accepted, but we do know that his heart was not in the right place. When he came up short, he became angry and deceptively self-defensive, rather than humble and honest.
When you fall short because you intentionally did something wrong, you made a mistake, or you simply didn’t do what you should have done, you will not feel good inside. That’s the way life works by design. What will you do with those feelings? If you receive your failure as an indication that something is wrong with you or that you are a bad person, you will feel bad about yourself – this is SHAME. Shame will lead you to depression, or to a kind of rationalization that we will call BLAME. Blame is when you point to something or someone else as the reason for your failure, rather than accepting personal responsibility. If this becomes a pattern in your life, you will experience spiritual and emotional BONDAGE. You will be enslaved to the need to protect yourself or be affirmed at all cost. This is what happened to Cain. When confronted by God, he became angry and blamed God and Abel for his inner feelings of discontentment and rejection. He could have simply accepted responsibility and done what God wanted him to do.
In Christ, your acceptance from God is NO WAY performance dependent. You can receive your short comings and conviction of sin in an atmosphere of GRACE. You don’t need to protect yourself from God because you are completely loved. Your identity, security and acceptance are NOT at stake! So, you can FACE the things you need to face – and take responsibility to do what is asked of you. Facing issues and challenges in the strength of the Lord will always increase your FREEDOM. You will grow to be a bigger and freer you, in Jesus Christ!
Which path describes your desire and general practice?
A). Shame + Blame = Bondage
B). Grace + Face = Freedom
God and others can help you lay hold eternal freedom.
~ Coach Tom
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