We’re all familiar with Cain and Abel. At least the part where Cain kills Abel. But there is another short story about them prior to that incident that doesn’t get much attention and that’s probably because we don’t really understand why it happened the way it did. It has to do with the offerings the brothers brought the Lord.
Have you ever wondered why Abel’s gift was respected and Cain’s wasn’t? The bible doesn’t really say. The new testament says Cain’s works were evil and Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice through which he obtained witness that he was righteous. That’s about all we know, but what does that even mean?
“Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry and his countenance fell.” Genesis 4:2-5
Now it comes as no surprise that God was obviously distracted and gazed upon this perfect firstborn lamb that was offered to Him. Sound familiar? I imagine He was daydreaming. But no offense Cain.
They both brought offerings of the fruit of their labor, so why respect one and not the other?
When we give a gift to someone out of love, we don’t expect anything back in return. We are not giving to gain favor with them or get something from them. Acceptance of the gift is appreciated but not required. We simply give because we love or care.
What happens when we don’t give out of love? We give to gain respect, recognition, love, acceptance, attention, favor, or to please. When we receive none of that in return, we become hurt, angry, sad, jealous, etc.
“So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you DO well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not DO well, sin lies at the door.”
So much of our time is spent TRYING to please God. DOING things to be accepted and loved and blessed by Him. That does NOT get God’s attention. Why? Because you’ve always had His attention. You have always had His love and acceptance. You have always had His favor and He’s always been pleased to call you His own.
Cain is like the prodigal son’s brother? He was angry and told his father “many years I have been SERVING you; I NEVER TRANSGRESSED your commandments, and YET YOU NEVER GAVE ME…”
What did the father tell him? “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours!”
The root of Cain’s problem was not his offering. It wasn’t even his sin. His sin was only the result of wrong believing. He thought he could gain something from God that he already had, righteousness.
We too, need to rest in knowing He already loves and accepts you and there’s nothing you can do to earn that or change that.