Devo Scripture: Genesis 4:8-26
Key Verse: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
It’s 5:55 a.m. The alarm clock rouses me to a state of semi-consciousness. What day is it? Did I have to get up at all last night? Who was it that cried? I commission my brain to wake up. Begrudgingly my feet hit the floor for another day. I put on my favorite hoodie, pour the necessary coffee, and settle into my favorite couch cushion with my beloved Bible. I read. I try to pray. I remind my brain we’re up and awake now. I read some more. Gaze upon the precious words that train me, rebuke me, uplift me, and guide me. I read Genesis 4. I think about Cain and Abel. How could Cain kill his own brother? I read Psalm 86. “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” I think about my own deliverance. It’s by grace that I’ve been saved. Grace. Unmerited favor. Completely undeserved. Truly God’s grace is amazing. But a scary thought occurs to me. This grace. This underserved favor. This most excellent way of of God…does it still amaze me? Or have I grown so use to the idea of God’s grace that it has long since ceased to amaze?
I settle the little guys down for naps. I’ve pondered all morning God’s grace. I confess my lack of amazement. I open to Genesis 4 again. Time to study. Time to write. I love this time. I look forward to it all day. But today I feel…sad. I feel a need to confess on behalf of the church. Does grace amaze us anymore or do we expect it? Do we cherish it or take it for granted? I reread Genesis 4. And I realize this is an incredible story. But I didn’t see it as such until now. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you for teaching me; correcting me; rebuking me. Cain…a cold blooded murdered. A cold blooded murdered to his own brother, yet God did not instantly kill him for his horrendous crime. He deserved to die…right then. But God didn’t rid the earth of his angry face. Instead the Holy and Righteous Judge of the universe allowed him to live; giving him many years to repent. And placed a mark of protection upon him. He let him have a wife and children. His children were prosperous and successful, responsible for the advancement of livestock production, the arts, and metal technology (Gen. 4:22-22). Cain could no longer farm but he pioneered a city. Mercy and grace were lavished upon Cain.
And what was Cain’s response? We can hope gratitude. We can hope humility. But if it was, he failed to teach his children and grandchildren of God’s faithfulness. He failed to teach them of God’s grace…God’s amazing grace. He took it for granted. Maybe even felt he deserved it. And the result was the downward depravity of a family line. A grandson whose advancement in metal technology lead to swords and weapons. And another who took two wives; boasted of hateful murderous revenge; and belittled God’s protection of his great grandfather. God’s grace was laughed at; disrespected; disregarded.
I falter a bit at the realization. This is what can happen when grace ceases to be amazing. If I take it for granted now, what will my children do? I groan from the possibilities. Forgive me God. Forgive me for not living in daily gratitude of your grace. And suddenly I realize something. I am no different from Cain. I have offered sacrifices to God in pride and arrogance. I too have let sin master me. I too have disregarded God’s guidance. R.C. Sproul says, “The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.” It doesn’t matter what I’ve done; sin is sin. And the slightest sin places me on death row because the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). I deserve the death penalty. Cain deserved the death penalty. And my beloved friend…you deserve the death penalty. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are guilty. No one is innocent. We are all in need of mercy. And all it took was one sin; one act of defiance. “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (James 2:10; NLT).
Yet he loves us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6). The wrath of God assailed Jesus. His own father turned away from him. So we could have life…abundant eternal life. I deserve death but have been handed life. And not just any life but eternal life with God in Heaven. This is grace. This. is. amazing. grace.
But does it leave me awestruck? Am I astonished by grace anymore? R.C. Sproul says “what amazes us is justice, not grace.” “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ps. 86:15). God is so slow to anger, so patient with us, that when we see his righteous judgment we stammer along behind it, awestruck that a God of love could or would act in such a way. But his judgments are righteous…always righteous. He is Holy; we are not. He owes us nothing; we owe him everything. To think we deserve anything from God is to fail miserably in our thinking. It is not his justice that should astonish us; it’s his grace.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.” Let us live in awe of God’s grace. Let us live daily in gratitude for his undeserved favor. For a life lived in gratitude of grace will be a life well lived.
Contemplate and Evaluate: