Using God’s Words to Cain When Counseling Our Teens

Funny how different pats of different passages speak to someone at different times. When reading the Cain and Abel passage, I have always lamented Abel’s death. Good being overtaken by bad. The beginnings of sin creeping into the world. Powerful story. But this time, it was God’s words to Cain that spoke to me.


God prefers Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s. Image by Jim Padgett courtesy of Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” – Genesis 4:6


Cain becomes angry and God calls down to him. Image courtesy of Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

God’s words to Cain could easily be used to question a wayward teen. Cain was mad because God preferred Abel’s sacrifice over his own (Genesis 4:5). How many times have we heard teens and young adults complain or lash out because they were “disrespected” or that something was “unfair?” Pretty often. Many a high school brawl or gang shooting was the result of someone getting “disrespected.”

Youth counselors and parents alike should have these verses committed to memory. When a principal calls a parent because of mischief or a parent calls a youth leader because they are at their wits’ end, perhaps these words would speak to the struggling youth.

Peer pressure for teens is a constant temptation. It’s that “sin crouching at your door.” Friends tell them the bad thing makes them accepted, but God tells them it is good that brings acceptance.

We want to say to a rebellious teen, “Why can’t you just make the right choices!?” But this has a negative connotation. If we use the words God spoke to Cain instead – “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” – it becomes more introspective instead of accusatory.

Cain didn’t listen to God and sin crept in. Sometimes our children won’t listen to us and sin creeps in. Because God gave us free will and Adam and Eve ate that apple. We hope, as parents, that we give our children the religious and moral compass that is needed to navigate our sinful world. When sin comes “crouching” at our children’s door it is my prayer that they hear God’s words: “If you do what’s right, will you not be accepted?”


This devotional corresponds with Chapter 1 of The Story. I hope you will prayerfully consider joining us in this faith journey. For more information visit: Read The Story with The Wellness Wife. You can also join our Facebook group, Read “The Story” with The Wellness Wife. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that we’ve already started. You can pick up anywhere and catch up at your leisure.


Pick up The Story at your local Christian or secular bookstore or online:

The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People

The Story for Teens

The Story for Kids

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