John Ortberg in his book, When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box, has an interesting paraphrase of the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter): “If I make a fortune, get the cover of Time magazine, and become attractive, comfortable, and secure, but have no love, I have rolled snake eyes. No matter how much I win, if I win alone, I lose. Love is the ball game.” (p. 203.)
In Genesis 4 we encounter the first sibling rivalry. Cain murders his brother Abel in a fit of jealous rage. When quizzed about his brother’s whereabouts, Cain responds: “How should I know? Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The source of Cain’s beef with his brother was that God accepted Abel’s animal sacrifice and snubbed his own fruit and vegetable offering. In other words: Abel’s work was #1 and Cain’s work was an “also ran.” So Cain played hard ball and took care of his competition. Cain’s rival for God’s affection was removed. So Cain won the struggle with his brother, right? Of course not!
God says to Cain: “What have you done? The voice of you brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”
How we respond to others when they block our goals matters to God. When we treat with contempt a person that He has created… one precious to Him… it does NOT escape the hearing of the Almighty! “His blood cried from the ground!” God told Cain.
Abel’s treatment broke the heart of God… for God loved him as His very own. And God feels the same way about your rivals and your enemies. And that can be a difficult thing to remember in the heat of competition. Empathy is an emotion tossed aside when we are denied victory. So we vent and we back stab and we claw our way to the top… and in the end we MAY win. But our win is entered in the loss column. Life was never about winning or striving for perfection. It was always about love!
I am called to be my brother’s keeper. But who is my Abel? An Abel today could be anyone who has been hurt, abused and discarded by others… anyone oppressed or forgotten. God still asks of you and I: “Will we continue to pursue selfish agendas or will we become look out for our brothers and sisters? The call to love them is rooted here in Genesis… and blossoms in the words of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In the Kingdom of God there is one one game we participate in: Love. And it will be that way for eternity!
Author N. T. Wright wrote: “Love is the language they speak in God’s world, and we are summoned to learn it against the day when God’s world and ours will be brought together forever. It is the music they make in God’s courts, and we are invited to learn it and practice it in advance. Love is not a “duty,” or even our highest duty. It is our destiny.” (After You Believe, p. 188.)
Go live your destiny!