“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire (is) for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
A rejection. A murder. A curse. These were the series of events that spell out the tragedy of Cain: a man of pride, jealousy, and ungodly character. The account of his broken relationship with God in Genesis 4:1-16 is a powerful reminder of the gravity of man falling into sin’s control. But amidst the drama lies an important promise complemented by a warning. God promises to “accept” us – lift and exalt us – if we do well. God warns that sin can readily ensnare us if we do not do well.
What does it mean to “do well”? In the world, “doing well” could look like raising accomplished kids, getting a promotion at work, or having many close friends. While these definitions of “doing well” are not inherently against the teachings of the Bible, a deeper spiritual understanding will point us to a higher definition of “doing well”. In the Bible, “doing well” means doing what is right in God’s eyes. God cares about a person’s character. To Him, having godly character is more important than what our offering or service is.
It is one thing to know God desires that we pursue building godly character and another to make that choice. While the decision is ultimately up to us, God does not leave us alone on this journey. He wants to help us triumph over things that lead us away from Him. He may reach out to help us, just as how He gave Cain a chance to reflect on his character and provided instruction on how to deal with sin. Perhaps He speaks to us through a Friday night sermon or moves a friend to ask about our spiritual well-being. When God reaches out, do we listen to His instruction and guidance? Do we use His rebuke to reflect on our relationship with Him?
May we constantly make the choice to build up godly character so we can do well and rule over sin before it rules over us!