Relationships, Reconciliation, and “Raca”

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I read an interesting note regarding Cain and Abel: the likelihood that they were twins (only one conception recorded followed by two births). Hmmm. If true, Cain’s murder of his brother takes on even greater significance. 

What went wrong?

Simply, one man obeyed God. One didn’t. The broken relationship with God affected the relationship between brothers.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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 rule over it (Genesis 4:3-7 NIV).’”

Scholar Allen Ross stated Eve hoped Cain was the child of promise, the one who would break the curse and strike the head of the serpent. 

We see a different story.

Instead of receiving God’s correction and repenting, thus making that relationship right, Cain turned his fault, his frustration, and his fury from God—to Abel. 

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him (Genesis 4:8).

Note: Abel had nothing to do with Cain’s sin. Nothing.

Jesus gave us insight into the sin of murder in Matthew 5:21-23:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ [empty-headed] is answerable to the court [Sanhedrin, the high Jewish court]. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift [emphasis mine].”

If the consequences seem severe, it’s because God views a bad attitude and broken relationships with much greater seriousness than we do. The Matthew passage reminds us of several things:

1. Make conflicts a matter of prayer. Don’t entertain thoughts that revisit old wounds or keep a fresh one bleeding. Pray for reconciliation rather than vindication. Don’t let feelings spiral into sin.

2. Practice humility. Give the same grace you desire. Abundantly. Instantly.

3. Take sin seriously. God does. Keep short accounts with Him. Confess often and repent quickly.

Jesus said the Law hinged on two commands: Love God and love others. Both the Genesis and Matthew passages have the context of worship and offerings. 

Leave you gift—and go. Be reconciled. Then, come and worship. One broken relationship affects the other. 

Workout for the Week: Relationship, Reconciliation, and “Raca”

Memory Verse: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift [emphasis mine].” Matthew 5:23

Meditation Passage: Matthew 5:21-23

Do It: Leave you gift—and go. Be reconciled.

For that relationship that refuses to budge, Romans 12:18 says, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Pray, persevere, and persist in seeking reconciliation.  Love never fails.