Minding My Own Business
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
There is a saying that helps me keep my head on straight sometimes. It says, "What other people think of you is none of your business." It's a great reminder that other people's business is their own. I need only worry about myself and my own business.
Cain never learned this lesson. When Abel's offering pleased the Lord when Cain's did not, Cain didn't bother to look inside himself to determine what he could do to bring an offering that would please God. Instead, he focused all his attention and energy on hating Abel for doing better than he had done. He hated Abel so much, murder seemed like the only option for relieving his burden.
But, as is often the case, his decision to harbor hatred only backfired. When he murdered his brother, he brought upon himself all the wrath of God and the consequences for his actions. His hatred killed his brother, and it also cursed Cain as well. Hatred cannot be directed in only one direction. Hatred, jealousy, spite -- all of these bring harm to everyone involved, not just the intended victim.
So I think again of the saying, and I remember that I need only be concerned with my own actions. When I'm faced with a situation like that of Abel and Cain, I ask myself if my emotions are caused by the other person or if they are caused by my own self-talk, my insecurities, and my jealousies. It's usually the latter. Ok, it's always the latter. When I realize that my negative emotions are always caused by my own self, I can begin to change my thinking and my behaviors. I can recognize my own part in it all, and I can respond differently. I can choose to respond instead of reacting. And usually (ok, always), I find that my differently motivated response is a much healthier response for me and for others.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Genesis 4:1-16
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.
Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.