So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part, also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for His offering, He had no regard. Genesis 4:3-5a (NASN)
What is evil? Our connect group at church is doing The Gospel Project, and our lesson Sunday was on the Rebellion in Heaven, and the origin and definition of evil. The definition the lesson seemed to accept was that evil is the absence of good. I wasn’t quite satisfied with that definition. I offered the example of a woman in her sickbed with no food in the house and a sink full of dirty dishes. “What would the good be?”
Someone said, “Going over and taking her some food and helping to clean up her house.”
“Right,” I said. “So what would the absence of good look like?”
“Doing nothing,” they all agreed.
“But can’t evil be a lot more than that? What about the person who takes advantage of her weakened condition, and comes in and beats her up and steals all her money?” So we all agreed that evil could be a spectrum anywhere from doing nothing to the epitome of evil actions.
But The Lord didn’t let me get away with that definition either. He said, “What about the person who writes a card to the woman or sends her a plate of brownies? Is that good or evil?”
Then I thought about Cain. He brought an offering to God. Isn’t that a good thing? So why did God call it evil?
The problem is that God doesn’t look at things the same way we do. God doesn’t look at the action. He looks at the motive behind the action. He knew Cain’s heart. He’d already given instruction on what kind of a sacrifice He wanted. Abel know down to the letter what to do. Cain just decided he’d do it his own way. The Bible doesn’t even say he gave his best fruit.
Maybe the person who sent the card or the plate of brownies has a half a dozen children. Sending those things was the absolute best she could do. God didn’t tell her to do anything more. He knew she already had her hands full. In that case, I think God will honor her sacrifice and commend her for it.
But suppose the person was sitting at home watching TV, and wrote the card or baked the brownies just to ease their own conscience. Then how does God see it? I think He sees it as evil. God’s definition of evil is anything less than our best.
By that definition, evil is more than saying “No” to God. It’s saying, “Here, take this.” It still all comes down to pride. It’s saying, “I’ll choose how much or how little I give. This is MINE. ”
God forgive us for all the times we’ve done less than our best. Help us not to choose evil, but to always choose to do things Your way.
Taboo Tuesday Question of the Day: How has evil affected your life, and how did you overcome it?