Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:6–7)
Love protects. Real, biblical love always protects others. When we abandon protecting love, our relationships unravel. The Apostle John reminds us of that with a graphic illustration: “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:11–12, ESV). Remember Cain? He was the first child born on Earth, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. But he’s notorious for murdering his brother, Abel. In fact, the word translated murdered (or slew) literally means cut his throat. Cain brutally killed his younger brother.
Why would he do that? Why would a person kill a member of his own family?
Sadly, people do it both literally and figuratively all the time. While only the literal, flesh-and-blood murders make the headlines, people all around us are dying in their families.
Like families who are fighting over their parents’ estate. Like children who tear their families apart through rebellion. Like any number of conflicts within our homes. Like how our anger against those closest to us can grow into murderous rage (see Matthew 5:21–22).
Why? Why do people hurt each other? Why did Cain hurt innocent Abel? John tells us clearly. “And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12). Never underestimate the conflict that rages in the heart of a person who is in the process of rejecting God. Never underestimate the tension that person feels between your life and his. “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). In this context, the word world refers to the people you know: your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family members who have not received Christ and are not walking in Him—and who feel the dissonance between your life and theirs.
Satan, the one who shattered the first family in history through his influence over Cain, has the very same goal today: to shatter your family. He’s actively working on it. The enemy wants to devour your marriage. And your children. He wants to have them, and he wants the world to have them.
Our instinct is to fight—to draw the line, stand our ground, raise our fists, and fight. The biblical way, the way to cooperate with what God is doing in this world and in your relationships, is the way of love. That is our protection.
The way of Cain is opposite to the way of love. People who choose Cain’s path of hatred still wander in a wilderness, just as Cain wandered in the wilderness the rest of his life (Genesis 4:12), and miss out on the good things God desires to give them.
If you want God’s protection on your family, choose love instead of hate. Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). Go the second mile (Matthew 5:41). Avoid the life of Cain. Choose instead the way of love, and experience God’s protection over your relationships.
When have you seen someone dying in a family—the toxic, murderous hate in a relationship killing someone emotionally, if not physically?How can love protect your family and your closest relationships?
Father God, open my eyes to see the ways I’m like Cain. What conflicts am I allowing to brew in my family? What anger is bubbling into murderous rage in my relationships? Thank You for the clarity to see how hatred kills relationships. I choose instead the way of love. Love protects. Help me to protect those I love by loving them. Your way is always best, Father. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.