Life is “get” and “give,” or “give and take.” Cain means “gotten.” Abel means “exhale.” When we inhale we get. When we exhale we give back or release. Life is a bargain with God. God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. When a baby is born, the shock of exposure or the slap of the doctor’s hand, causes it to gasp, to inhale and fill its lungs with air. Then, as if to seal the deal, it exhales with a piercing cry. Life begins. We Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. The transaction continues until we exhale for the last time. Few people think about breathing. Its automatic, until its not. Jesus’ last words from the cross were “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
Cain was the firstborn. His name means “gotten.” Eve said “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Everything we get, got, or will ever get, we will have gotten from the Lord. From our first breath to our last we are go-getters who have gotten. God wants us to also be go-givers. So here is the distinction between the “Liberal” and the “Conservative” spirit. They are played out before us in Cain and Abel, and in them we see ourselves.
A real conservative (not just a fiscal conservative) recognizes the divine source in “gotten from the Lord.” Even the wisdom to make wise investments and the courage to take the right risks also comes from God. “It is God who teaches us to profit and leads us in the way we should go “(Isa. 48:17). Profit that “rips people off” is not taught by God. Riches without right is not God’s way either. Taking without giving back breaks the bargain with God. Having said that, giving must be done willingly. Taxing someone is taking. Charity is giving. Liberalism with someone else’s money is not liberal at all. The liberal spirit is liberal with what God gave it, not with what God gave to someone else. That’s stealing.
Even the strength we have with which to work (by the sweat of our brow), we have gotten from the Lord (Deut 8:18). The real conservative recognizes the force as well as the source. Good is a force some say, and good is enough. The real conservative has discovered the source and the force of the power is God. God is good. Eliminating God from that equation makes man the arbiter of what is good. Which brings us back to Cain and Abel. Cain was very upset when what he offered was not “good enough.”
This leads to the third element of real conservatism: the course. To what and for what do we give ourselves? The true conservative would describe that as “God’s will” for their life. Once again, take God out of that recipe and your cakes won’t rise. Cain appears to be the ”liberal” (or generous one) in our story. He comes with his organically grown vegetables. He thought God would have been pleased. He worked hard (farming is not easy). He gave the best he had. He did not follow the instructions however, and he got an “F.” Liberals today think no one should be given an “F.” Who are we to judge? Who is God anyway?
Lastly, What was this gentle farmer’s reaction? Anger, hatred, and murder. People who see life as a partnership with God (as in Faith) are not filled with anger, hatred, malice, and murder. They “must be about the Father’s business.” They want everyone to succeed in life and discover how to have life and to have it more abundantly. It is the grace of a “give and take” that understands the bargain. He lives the most, who gives the most; and we can’t out-give God. -id