Have you ever had to discipline children? Maybe in a daycare setting or school classroom, in the Sunday school at church or even in your own home?
If you have then you know that you get one of two reactions. You will get a sorry, a penitent heart or you will get defiance and rebellion.
This morning I was reading from the Book of Genesis, the account of Cain and Abel's offerings. I came to the place where God accepted Abel's offering but not Cain's. Scripture says that Cain's countenance fell.
Now I have read this accounting many times before. I have been in many discussions on these scriptures. Yet this morning the words, "his countenance fell" really stood out to me.
I had to look up the word. And the definition said,
Countenance, noun, meaning long face.
The scripture says that Cain became angry and his countenance fell.
I try to envision in my mind someone who looks like that, Long in the face because of anger. I even had to try it out on my own face. I smiled, then made an angry face. I imagined what expression I might make if I was angry or jealous of another. Smile, anger, smile, jealousy. I COULD actually feel my face drop.
But I thought to myself why does God care if Cain's face fell? Why does God care if his expression be lifted up?
Then I dug a little deeper into the meaning and got this.
Countenance:Middle English: from Old French contenance ‘bearing, behavior,’ from contenir (see contain). The early sense was ‘bearing, demeanor,’ also ‘facial expression,’ hence ‘the face.’
So, could it be that Cain's behavior, his demeanor had fallen as well as the look on his face?
Yes, because God also warns Cain about his angry feelings.
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7 NASB)
I can almost hear the gentle teaching voice of God as He spoke to Cain. I think I can almost see Him place His hand on the back of Cain's shoulder as He tries to tell him to choose to do well.
We know how it ends. We know that Cain did not choose to do well.
I have been practicing my smile, angry, smile, angry, smile, angry faces. I want to know that feeling of fallen countenance when it shows on my face. I want to recognize it immediately. Then I want to imagine a gentle teaching voice as I feel the loving hand on my shoulder, say to me, "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?"
How about you? Will you go practice those faces in front of your mirror?