What does the enemy hate more than a person receiving salvation and forming a relationship with Christ? It’s not prayer, praise, or study… although those practices give also give the evil one great anxiety as well, however it is not what he works the hardest against in the lives of believers. The enemy hates when a person, especially a believer in Jesus Christ, begins to operate in their gifting, purpose, or anointing from God. If he can use it for his own purposes he will, but that person is not off the hook from his attacks either. How many talented, gifted, extremely bright future having people have we seen the enemy sink his hooks into assisting them in their downfall. It is the same strategy that persuades actors, musicians, politicians to give into all types of things at the height of their career to bring them to utter destruction. It is the same strategy that works against Pastors, and other Christian leaders that pull them into a web of disgrace, shame, and ineffectiveness. It is the strategy that you use when someone does something (or you heard that someone did something) that you do not like or agree with. This strategy is as ancient as the origins of humanity and yet still finds creative ways to manifest itself. The strategy is shame and condemnation.
In the book of Genesis the story of Cain and Abel unfolds to give us an idea of what not to do in relationships. Cain was a farmer, he worked the land by planting and harvesting for food. Abel was a hunter, he skillfully caught animals/wild game that would provide meat for his family. The time came for Cain and Abel to bring offerings to the Lord (the principle of offering first fruits and/or tithes to God is as old as humanity). As the story goes, Cain gathered from the crops an offering for the Lord, but Abel presented God with the first pick of the young that were born in his herds. Consequently, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice/offering and rejected Cain’s. Some have many theories on why Cain’s offering was not accepted, for this blog we are going to focus on his response to being rejected more than the reason why. Cain’s response was probably a range of emotions, the Bible does not explicitly state this, but to understand what drives someone to murder their brother it is possible that anger or jealousy were not the only devices from the evil one targeting Cain’s emotions in order to manipulate him to commit murder. From my own life experiences, I understand what drives a person to do the unthinkable and I also can recognize when that strategy attempts to rear its head again. Cain’s offering being rejected opened him up to insecurity, fear, failure, bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, rage, and eventually murder. This does not justify what he did, but it does give a better understanding of why he would do something like that.
God’s response to Cain is the same response that He gives to us. He warned Cain about his capacity to sin and encouraged him to change his mind and heart about the situation. What if Cain had heeded the suggestion that God gave him? This would have been a completely different story and outcome for him! Unfortunately that nasty swirl of negative, ungodly emotions, won out and Cain set a trap for his brother and murdered him. God’s response to Cain, once again was priceless: He rebuked and corrected Cain by sending him out of Eden, in that moment Cain realized that what he had done to his brother could also be done to him. So Cain cried out to God and told Him that he could not bear such great punishment. At this point many of us would be in disbelief. We would tell Cain to “deal with it,” or “that’s what you get for doing wrong!” God’s response, however, was of grace and mercy. He pronounced a curse on Cain, because the Justice of God must prevail, but He also marked Cain with protection so that no one would prematurely take his life. How many times has God done that for us? We have sinned not only against or “brothers” but also against Him and yet He covers and protects us from complete destruction. Another point is that while it is not explicitly stated, one could conclude that Cain’s act of crying out to God was the beginning of his repentance process because it does not say that he ever murdered anyone else after that. In fact, the only thing that is mentioned about him in that story after that, is that he and his wife had a son, and that his sons reproduced as well.
What does all of this have to do with the concept of trophies? Well, the definition of trophy is a statue or medal that indicates success, prestige, or honor. A trophy can also be the keepsake part of an animal that has been hunted (antlers, furs, or even the head of an animal). The theme of hunting and being hunted is very prevalent in this story. Abel was a hunter/herdsman and the irony of this is that while he was approved of God for his offering to God, it was the fact that he was accepted by God that put a target on his back in the eyes of the evil one and ultimately his brother. Later in the story Cain realizes that because God is punishing him for his act of murder against his brother, that a target would not be on his back and that he could possibly suffer the same fate. God in His infinite wisdom, love, and mercy changes Cain’s target for murder into a mark of protection. What if we responded to people when they fall or are disgraced the same way that God does? How many gifted, talented, anointed people are out there wandering with a target on them instead of a mark? As Kingdom Ambassadors we have the same authority to show the compassion and love of God to those who blew it, messed up, sinned, or no one thinks that they deserve it. Many of us relate to both sides of the Cain and Abel story. There are seasons of life when we were like Abel, thriving in our calling and experiencing the favor of God all while feeling the jealousy and envy of other mount into unpleasant interaction with ones we were once close with. On the flip side any one of us could exhibit Cain like characteristics under the proper conditions, and have been tempted to or have acted in anger, rage, bitterness, slander, gossiping, or even murder when our own negative swirl manifested itself. Could it be that these fallen but gifted people are having their own Cain and Abel season? I believe so.
Why is it that for many of us right after we begin to flow or excel in our God given gifting or purpose that we come under intense attack from the enemy? A better question relating to the Cain and Abel story is who was the enemy ultimately trying to destroy in that situation? Some say Abel because his heart was worshipful towards God offering the best that he had. I do not disagree with this point of view, however I believe that the enemy was also targeting Cain and Cain’s lineage. Cain was a farmer which was a very important career (and still is), also from his line came tentmakers, musicians and instrument makers, also metal craftsmen. We have no idea of what gifts Abel’s lineage would have brought to the world, but one thing is clear: the enemy wanted to cut both of them off. It seems like satan had it in for both of them and wanted to ultimately end mankind. Yes Abel was a hunter, but both he and Cain were hunted by satan himself. The bible says that satan roams about like a lion seeking whom he can destroy/devour. The issue of sin is real, but as we can see from this story of Cain and Abel that guarding one’s heart or emotions could possibly be even more important. When our hearts are guarded by the Word of God the enemy cannot easily manipulate us into sin. This is the difference between Cain and Abel. Abel’s heart was turned towards God, seeking to please Him and not himself. Cain, on the other hand, sought to please himself first and was not all that concerned with pleasing God until he missed the mark and his offering was rejected. The bottom line is that when we operate in our God given gifts and talents, there is going to be resistance, opposition, and even targeting from the enemy.
On a good note, the enemy is not the only one on the “hunt” for us. The Lord also pursues us when we are not saved to get to know Him and accept salvation, and also after we are saved to participate in a more intimate relationship with Him. It doesn’t matter if you are a Cain or Abel right now, the Lord is seeking you out! Jesus goes after all people, even the unlikely, undeserving, stained with sin, and unpopular. He called Matthew a former tax collector (which was considered an abominable trade in Jewish culture) to be a disciple, He singled out Zacchaeus, another tax collector out and chose to dine at his home surrounded with other rejected and despised people. Jesus also had his disciples that followed him, friendship with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, and even Nathaniel the Pharisee went to spend time with Him. Jesus showed compassion and mercy to the woman caught in the act of adultery and told her to go and sin no more, He inspired the Samaritan woman at the well to be a witness for Him, and had no problem healing and restoring the lame, blind, oppressed of devils or anyone else. The Apostle Paul puts it like this according to the 1 Thessalonian 2:19 in Passion Bible Translation: “For what will be our confident hope, our exhilarating joy, or our wonderful trophy that we will boast in before our Lord Jesus at his appearing? It is you!” Each person collectively and individually, past, present, and future in the Body of Christ are His trophy! Each one of us have been marked with the Blood of Jesus and preserved as God’s own people just like the Israelites were protected by the lamb’s blood during the first Passover in Egypt. We are marked by the very DNA of God! Through Him we are partakers in divine authority to love, create, administrate, and build the Kingdom. We are chosen, handpicked by God to be His own. When we stay close to Him, the enemy’s effort to “hunt us down” will always fail. Even if we get caught in a trap, we can cry out to our Abba and He will set us free! In return we get to extend that same grace and mercy to others, thankfully remembering the day that the Lord rescued us as well!
Let’s Pray: Father God thank You for loving us, being with us, protecting us and making a way for us regardless of what season that we are in. Lord in our humanity we sometimes fall short of Your glory and can find ourselves in situations that seem harsh and difficult. Whether we are being targeted like Abel was for doing good or like Cain was for doing evil, Your love for us and desire for our fruitfulness remains the same. Lord Your mercy is so generous and kind that sometimes we may feel like we are not worthy to receive Your compassion or grace. Lord in those times please remind us that we are Your child, Your beloved, and Your trophy! Please help us to show the same mercy and compassion that we desire to be shown to us by You and others in our time of distress. Lord, help us to be sensitive to Your leading that we may participate in the work You are doing here on earth. Lord please forgive us when we missed opportunities to show mercy, compassion, or kindness to a targeted one. Lord You make all things new, so please renew us, restore us, and bring forth new good things in our lives, surroundings, and wherever we go that You will get the Glory in Jesus name AMEN!