Read: Genesis 4:1-5
I was lucky enough to be raised in a Christian home. I attended church from a very young age and was able to learn a lot through the teaching. But I learned more through watching the actions of my parents and those in the church. I realized early on that actions were a big part of the Christian faith. I thought that to behave like a Christian was the same as being a Christian. If I acted like everyone else, I must be just like everyone else. As we see from the passage today, that is a false assumption.
Genesis chapter 4 begins on the heels of God’s promise that the offspring of Eve would defeat the serpent after sin entered the world. After Eve gives birth to Cain she gives thanks to the Lord for He has given her a son. She believes that Cain was the one whom the Lord had promised; that he would be the one who would conquer sin and death. Boy, was she wrong.
The chapter jumps in time and we see Cain and Abel working in their chosen professions (v. 2). Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. There is no indication that God viewed either profession as better or worse. The brothers brought an offering before the Lord. Again, the Bible doesn’t indicate that either offering, animal or fruit, was better than the other.
However, there was one major difference in the offerings. Abel brought “…the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions” (vs. 4). While Cain brought just an offering (vs. 3). The difference is that Abel brought the best of what he had, the most perfect and delicious calf. He was giving to the Lord the first portion, the best offering he could, knowing he was praising the one, true God.
The author very intentionally leaves that description out of Cain’s offering. Cain was just doing what was expected of him: bringing an offering. This act was done out of ritual, not out of faith and love for God. Cain’s heart was not in it. According to Hebrews 11:4, the primary difference between the two offerings was a matter of faith.
So, when the Lord does not regard Cain’s offering (v. 5), it should not come as a big surprise. Cain and Abel both did the same thing (present an offering to God), but their hearts were very different. Without receiving recognition, Cain gets angry and turns his face away. How often do we react the same way? How often do we perform a ritual without truly loving God through that ritual?
Are you currently serving, sacrificing, doing things for the Lord? Why are you doing those things? Take some time today to look at your motivations and desires. Are you doing things for the glory of God, or are you doing them for the recognition and results? Pray that the Lord will show you where you need to focus on Him and give Him all the glory and recognition.