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For many years, I believed that our feelings were just random responses with no connection to our belief system. I don’t believe that any more. I believe that our feelings stem from our beliefs. What we believe fuels our feelings. I think God’s question to Cain indicates that. Let me know what you think.
Genesis 4:6-7 tells us, “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’”(NASB).
God doesn’t tell Cain, “Your anger doesn’t refer to anything. That’s just the way it is.”
The Contemporary English Version says it this way: “The LORD said to Cain: What’s wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling.”
In other words, “There’s a reason you are feeling angry. It’s the result of what you did; it’s the result of a choice you made. If you’d made the right choice, you’d be happy; but since you made the wrong choice, you’re unhappy.”
God’s questions are His effort to reason with Cain, to turn him from the murderous intentions of his heart. Cain believes his problem is his brother, not himself. If he can get rid of his “problem,” he can be happy. He believes the wrong thing. He has a wrong belief system and God is trying to change that belief system. But as we know, Cain refuses and kills his brother.
God predicts what will happen if he doesn’t change his belief: “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” God wants Cain to know he has a choice how he feels and what he does about it.
We have the same kinds of choices. We can’t say, “Well, I feel resentful; that’s just a natural reaction.” No! Our resentment is based in the wrong belief that someone owes us something and we’re resentful they aren’t coming through for us. If we believed the truth–that no one owes us anything–we wouldn’t become resentful.
Let’s look at the old stand by: “I’m just angry because he doesn’t do what is best for him.” Of course, we’re really saying, “I’m just angry because he isn’t doing what I know to be best for him.” Well, how can we say with certainty something is good for someone? We don’t know what God wants to do, even through difficulty (James 1).
Here’s a third one: “Well, anyone would be worried if they were facing what I’m possibly facing.” No! Worry is a choice based in the wrong belief that God isn’t trustworthy. We can resist succumbing to a worried feeling.
And that’s an important word: succumbing. God is asking questions of Cain intended to stop him from succumbing to his feelings. Cain’s feelings should alert Cain that he has a problem: his belief system is skewed.
Maybe God is asking us similar questions intended to alert us to our wrong beliefs. He can ask that question through the circumstances He allows in our lives or through the conviction of Scripture. Let’s be open to hearing His “why” questions.