“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7
While I’m not yet a mother, I find incredible joy in being an aunt. Our last visit was the first time we had seen our 2-year-old nephew since he had been potty-trained. After dinner one night, he disappeared with his mother for a few moments. When he returned, he walked confidently and announced very loudly to anyone that would listen, “I poo’d!”
We all struggled to keep straight faces as we praised his accomplishments. With each word of encouragement, his sweet face lit up. Even at the age of two, he was basking in the joy of acceptance. His efforts were received with approval and favor, and that approval met a deep desire in him to be told “Well done” by those he loves.
In Genesis, God is responding to Cain’s desire for acceptance with a practical message of hope alongside a warning. We all desire to be accepted entirely by our Creator. Even if we don’t acknowledge that desire, it’s still there. God doesn’t hide the secret to acceptance from us. Over and over again in Scripture, he tells us to do what is right — to make Him our Lord and to follow him wholeheartedly. If we do, he promises acceptance and the joy that comes from hearing “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:21)
But if we don’t, he sternly warns us as our Father to watch out for sin. If we don’t follow Him, we will follow something. If we don’t make Him our master, sin will be our master instead. And that sin will never lead to acceptance; it will only lead to death. (Romans 6:23)
As I dwell on the acceptance I desire from God, a quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory comes to mind. In this sermon, Lewis digs in a bit more about the glorification that we’ll experience one day after our days in this world are done. He explains that it will be beyond the fame and splendor that we typically expect from a word like “glory,” but instead he says:
“We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all of our lives will open at last. …
We can be left utterly and absolutely outside — repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities.”
I don’t know about you, but these statements get me incredibly excited! As we consider the glory promised to us as co-heirs with Christ, let’s lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us and run toward Jesus! (Hebrews 12:1-2) Sin desires to master us, just as it mastered Cain when he murdered his brother Abel. But through the blood of Christ, sin is defeated. We can find complete acceptance with God as we follow Jesus, our Lord and Savior. If this is old news to you, then be encouraged today. Continue running the race! If this is making sense to you for the first time, then I implore you to make Jesus your Lord. Serve him joyfully and faithfully, knowing that one day you’ll stand before God and receive full acceptance.
~ Whitney Sewell
Father, Thank you for the hope I received when Jesus defeated death. Thank you for the opportunity to come into a full relationship with you. Help me to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and to run the race set before me faithfully. I can’t wait for the day when I can stand before you, receiving full acceptance due to your work on the cross. I love you. Amen.
Other scriptures to study:
- Romans 8:12-29
- John 17:20-25
- Matthew 25:21
- Romans 6:23
- Hebrews 12:1-2