Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error. (Jude 11)
Ivan Karamazov made a startling confession to his younger brother in Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece novel The Brothers Karamazov. He confessed, “I could never understand how one can love one’s neighbors. It’s just one's neighbors, to my mind, that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance.” Ivan’s confession highlighted his hatred of members of his own family.
The story of Cain and Abel stands as the penultimate story of envy and murder within a family. Jude used this example as yet another condemnation of the false teachers that were plaguing his readers. These false teachers were not attacking the church from the outside though. They were in the church spreading the envy of Cain, the greed of Balaam, and the rebellious spirit of Korah. Jude warned his readers that these teachers were going to receive the destruction of Korah as a result of their ungodliness.
Jude’s condemnation of the false teachers offers us the same warning he intended for his readers then. You can either follow the way of Cain, or you can follow the way of Christ. The way of Cain is the way of envy, greed, and rebellion. The way of Christ is the way of mercy, peace, and love. While Cain hated his own brother, Christ teaches us to love everyone, especially those closest to us.
Do not follow the way of Cain. Follow the way of Christ.
Mark Moore PhD is an associate professor of theology at William Jessup University and the spiritual formation pastor at Faith Legacy Church in Sacramento, California.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.