The Lord speaking to Cain warns him, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Possibly Cain was already plotting to murder his brother. The sin of hatred is pictured as a demon, waiting to pounce on Cain – it desired to have him. Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Cain, whose motivation and attitude were evil from the start, reacted predictably.
In the explanation of the fifth commandment, we are reminded, “we should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.” God forbids us to hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, that is, to do or say anything, which may destroy, shorten, or embitter his life. This includes bearing anger and hatred in our hearts against our neighbor. The first murder was especially shocking because it was committed with deliberate deceit, “let’s go out to the field” against a brother and against a good man.
To help us combat the temptation of hatred the Lord requires us to help and befriend our neighbor in every physical need. Abraham rescued Lot from his enemies. David protected the life of Saul. The good Samaritan helped the man who had fallen among thieves. We do this by being merciful, kind, and forgiving toward our neighbor. In the New Testament, the centurion was kind to his sick servant. (Matthew 8:5-13) In the Old Testament Joseph was forgiving toward his brothers. (Genesis 45:1-16) “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
O Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore we earnestly beseech You that by Your gracious visitation our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Collect for patience Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Luther’s Small Catechism © 1943 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis