In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also presented an offering–some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:3-8 HCSB)
Malice. We don’t like to talk much about this in the modern Christian world. Greatly to our detriment I might add. All too often we’re trying to make sure that Christians aren’t going to pubs or smoking fags or watching naughty movies that we forget that there is this little thing that all too many of us have called “malice”.
Webster’s dictionary defines “malice” in this way:
MAL’ICE, n. [L.malitia, from malus, evil.] Extreme enmity of heart, or malevolence; a disposition to injure others without cause, from mere personal gratification or from a spirit of revenge; unprovoked malignity or spite.
We, as Christians, should not be harboring this kind of attitude in our hearts. It shows when we are though for there is no way to hide that which is in the heart. Jesus tells us, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34b HCSB). What we keep locked in our hearts is what will come out in our speech and our actions.
I go to a Christian school with a lot of people who claim to be Christians. This past week I have been doing lunch with some guys who play pool and such in the student center. (Now, you must understand the situation I am in for this story to make any sense. I am a 5 point Calvinist [which I didn’t know what that was or that I was one until someone told me that I believed the same way one of them does. I came to those conclusions simply by reading the Bible] and I attend a school that is run by General Baptists. They are not 5 point Calvinists. In fact, they are as Arminian as you can get.) I was hanging out with them and playing a little pool and we were discussing some theology. All the guys down there on this particular day were all people who claim to be Christians or who say they are going into the ministry. Let me tell you…I have never been hated in one single place more in my entire life. This one guy referred to me as “stupid calvinist” the whole time I was down there. He had utter hatred for the beliefs that I have. He wouldn’t even listen to my side of any arguement he tried to start. He just wanted to try to correct me.
And the constant bickering and the constant bashing of eachother’s denominations didn’t help matters either. These people were acting downright hateful.
I share that story for one reason. It is a prime example of malice in the Christian heart. And we all fall into that trap at one time or another. We all call eachother names and we all kinda poke fun at eachother. And we all go a little bit overboard at one time or another. But that is no excuse to let it go on.
Cain didn’t like his brother very much. And you know why? Because God accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s. And why? Well, the text doesn’t really say, but when I read it, I am given the impression that maybe Cain didn’t give God exactly what he was supposed to give him. And when he saw God being gracious to his brother, he just couldn’t stand being outside of that.
At one time or another, we all get this same attitude. We see God doing mighty things in someone else’s life and we can’t stand to be outside of the blessings of God.
But Cain doesn’t act properly. Cain gets pissed off with Abel and ultimately with God and takes his brother into the field and kills him.
At one time or another, we react the same way. Instead of changing ourselves to see to it that we’re doing that God wants for us to do, we run off and try to drag the person down who is being blessed by God.
I am reminded of a story a friend of mine told me one day a while back. It’s a true story, so you can all pray for those involved in this. A church in a decent sized town in a decent sized state had a revival. The church having the revival was a church of the Pentecostal persuasion. Well, some members of the local Baptist church attended the revival and shortly thereafter they moved their membership to the Pentecostal one. Instead of showing love to the pastor who’s church was gaining members and praising God for the members that hadn’t left, the Baptist preacher condemned the practices of the Pentecostal church and instead of loving his brother in Christ, broke off communication with him.
This should not be. Yet this attitude permeates the words and actions of many Christians and pastors in our modern American culture. But what does the Bible say about this attitude?
But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8 HCSB Emphasis mine)
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, He saved us–not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:3-5 HCSB Emphasis mine)
Malice should not be a part of our lives at all if we are a Christian. Paul commands us to get rid of malice and then he talks to Titus and tells him that Christians had those attitudes in the past. It should be gone from our lives.
I always seem to leave you with a challenge, so here is today’s challenge. Love one another. Heed the words of Jesus:
And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:35-39 HCSB)