The “snowball effect” describes how one sin leads to another. For example, a child steals a cookie, then lies to her mother about it. A man gossips about his boss, then tries to cover it up. A woman cheats on her taxes, then rationalizes it by saying, “Everybody does it.” The “snowball effect” is at work in today’s story. Cain’s sin began with bad worship. His offering somehow showed a lack of faith or a lack of respect for God (vv. 3–4), leading to the sins of anger and jealousy (v. 5). God mercifully intervened to warn Cain to repent and “do what is right” (vv. 6–7).
But the “snowball effect” continued. Cain carried out the premeditated murder of his brother Abel (v. 8). God mercifully intervened again, implicitly giving Cain an opportunity to confess (v. 9). Instead, he lied (v. 10). This led to God’s just wrath and a punishment (vv. 10–12). Even then, Cain’s response was sinful. He regretted the consequences but expressed no remorse for any of his sins (vv. 13–14). Once again, God responded with mercy: He tempered the judgment so that Cain would not be murdered for revenge (v. 15).
This section of our month’s study focuses specifically on sinful failures, dealing with them from the perspective that these are occasions for God’s gifts of forgiveness and hope. If we choose to repent, He will forgive. If we stubbornly continue to choose rebellion, as Cain did, even then the faithful mercy of the Lord will be magnified and glorified! “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Mic. 7:18).
>> Pride urges us to double down on our sin. Rather than confess, we allow sin to control what happens next (v. 7). If this describes you today, don’t make things worse—turn to the Lord and let Him cleanse you from your own mess.