“That’s a pretty good insurance policy,” Ethan said to Kent.
Kent shrugged, “Too bad you can’t get it. Just us ministers qualify.”
Ethan and Kurt grew up together. Kurt had always envied Ethan’s “advantage” of being a preacher’s kid. Kurt felt Ethan had better advantages and privileges. Now, whenever he could, Kurt leveraged his position to make Ethan feel small. Ethan had not pursued the ministry, so Kurt felt like a bigger man since he now had his local license. The underdog now saw an opportunity to dominate. How should Ethan respond?
Great Men Care about Others
When God asked Cain about Abel, this small man replied, “Don’t know, God. Was it my turn to watch him?” The small man does not care about anyone but himself. Instead of helping pull a brother out of sin (Galatians 6:1), the small man says, “I’m glad I’m not like that.” (Luke 18:11). Those kind of men live under a curse.
Do you reach out to help others? Or do you just look out for yourself? A great man influences others in his workplace. He leads his family closer to God. He encourages his wife to be great. He will hold up weaker brothers in the church until they can finally stand on their own. He agrees to help with projects that were not his idea or may even go against his preferences.
The Discomfort of Being Different
We do not see Cain express any regret after murdering his brother. Instead, he complains to God about his punishment, saying, “I can’t take it! You’ve kicked me out to wander in no-man’s-land, and, if anyone finds me, he will kill me.” Cain, a classic SMSer, is still looking out for number one (himself). God marked Cain so he would stand out from the rest of humanity.
This is the kind of “standing out” we speak of when we talk about holiness or separation from the world. Cain stood out as unique because he did not fit in. People do not feel comfortable around small men. They mark them out. They will not tell their secrets to a man who stabs others in the back. They will not develop a close friendship with a person who climbs over everyone else to get ahead. They drop all contact with a person who uses others for self-interest and let him wander the backside of nowhere, alone, forsaken, and feeling sorry for himself.
Face Rejection like Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal
Many men never recover from their damaged self-image when they get fired, go bankrupt, or get incarcerated. They struggle to look the world in the face again because they think everyone sees them now thorough their past blunder. They go through life making excuses to validate themselves:
“You have to be one of the goodie-goodie guys to not get ahead at that job.”
“If I had a better lawyer, things would have been different.”
However, the descendants of Cain could not spend their lives making excuses for the family reputation. They did not keep telling the story of why they could not grow a garden anymore. They did not launch character assassination against those who had green thumbs. They found something else to do. Jabal learned to raise livestock and created advances in this career for posterity. Jubal put together a musical band and invented musical instruments. Tubal Cain built a shop and started manufacturing some good guy stuff like tools and grill utensils. They found a new identity and went on with life.
Do not live your life trying to save your face from your past mistakes. Admit where you are and what got you there. Then start living. Form a new identity if you have to. Pursue a new career, lifestyle, and rebuild your character while accepting your self-worth from God. For example, a minister who has fallen into sin cannot spend his life groaning over his missed calling. He needs to find what work he can still do and do it with all his might. No need to keep going back to your dead end, just accept the detour and get back up to speed.