Genesis 4:1-5 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
This is the first use of the word respect. There are always interesting lessons to be learned in first use as meanings change over time and there are many meanings now.
The Hebrew word for respect is shä·ä’ which means to look. God looked at the sacrifice of Abel, He paid attention. The sacrifice of Cain did not receive God’s attention, it was ignored. God was indifferent to Cain’s offering.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Nothing makes us feel unloved more than being ignored. We sense that and know it even before we can form words to express the emotion. Did that mean that God didn’t love Cain? No, not at all, but that didn’t stop Cain from feeling neglected and that is why Cain’s countenance fell.
What happened next is a telling tale of humanity. We need to accept the actions of Cain as one in which we are all involved.
Genesis 4:6-7a And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.
God spoke to Cain, paid attention to Him, inquired about his feelings, and shared knowledge which served as a warning for what comes from wrong thinking.