Difficult Relationships

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from the ground. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield it strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’”—Genesis 4: 9-12 (NKJV)

This is one of the saddest stories not only in the Bible but in the history of mankind. We ask, “What happened?” Man was placed in a perfect place, and the relationship between man and God and his fellow man was also perfect. But then sin entered the world and changed everything.

God created each of us for relationship—an intimate personal relationship with Him and with our fellow man. When you look at the Ten Commandments, you’ll see they speak first to our relationship with God and then to our relationship with others. In view of those commandments, Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all you mind, and all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Why? Because love is the fulfillment of the whole law of relationships.

Sadly, Cain committed a horrendous sin against his own flesh and blood. He did not have a love for God nor his brother and gave in to severe disobedience and fratricide. The Book of Jude says the “way of Cain” is bitterness, unforgiveness, unbelief, and hatred.

God asked Cain where his brother was. How would you respond to that question? Where is your heart toward others? Do you care about your family and fellow man? Do you have anger or ill will toward your brother? Our parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends, and co-workers are our “brother.”

Think of all the relationships with which you have been entrusted. Thank God for the relationships that are doing well. If you have a relationship that is troublesome, ask the Lord to help you work it out. Cain’s problem became disastrous when he chose to take matters into his own hands, allowed his bitterness to grow into a monster, and refused the encouragement and blessing of the Lord’s help. Because of his decision, Cain’s life was cursed. He wandered and became a vagabond the rest of his life. 

No matter how difficult a relationship may be, listen and do to what the Lord tells you. The reward will be peace, a heart that is free, and a healthy relationship.

DIG: How would you answer the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper”?

DISCOVER: Ask the Lord for His help and follow through with His instructions for right relationships with those you’ve been entrusted to care for.

DO: Owe no man anything but love (Romans 13:8). Others will know you are a disciple of Jesus by your love for others.

About the Author

Jeff Seward