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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”—Hebrews 11:4 (NASB)
Have you ever looked on at the way someone else does something and thought, That’s definitely not the way I do that. As a kid growing up in a 100 percent true Cuban household, I grew up thinking everyone spoke Spanish, ate a big roasted pig on Christmas Eve, had 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, and drank Cuban coffee for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed.
As I grew older, I became more exposed to other cultures and realized just how differently people do the most basic things. Sometimes, I’d think, Wow! That’s a really effective way of doing that! Other times, unique practices and cultural differences seemed very foreign and unusual to me.
There are likely several biblical concepts and practices that seem distant and foreign to us . . . but the one I imagine most people can’t wrap their heads around is the concept of sacrifice. In The Question of Sacrifice, Dennis King Keenan states, “Most theories of sacrifice are predicated on an economy of debts and credits in which one gets a return on one’s sacrificial investment . . . Sacrifice has come to be understood as a necessary passage through suffering and/or death (of either oneself or someone else) on the way to a supreme moment of transcendent truth. Sacrifice effects the revelation of truth. Sacrifice is the price to be paid for gain.”
In today’s verse, we see that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain. The implication of this whole issue between the brothers is that Abel offered his first and best, while Cain withheld his best and kept it for himself. Abel sacrificed his best because He understood that God was worthy of nothing but the best, and that by honoring God with the best, he would please the Lord and would most certainly receive the greatest return on his sacrificial investment. Why? Because God is a faithful God who keeps His promises.
When was the last time you found yourself at the altar before God? Of course, I’m not speaking of animal sacrifice; there are much more significant forms of sacrifice we can make before our Lord. Are you offering the first fruits of your finances to Him? What about your time? Your talents? Your purity? Your relationships? Your generosity? Your mercy and compassion? What are you presenting to Him? Is it your best? What are you withholding? Think about that today. Are you Cain or Abel?
DIG: Read Jonah 1 and Genesis 4.
DISCOVER: What does sacrifice mean to you?
DISPLAY: Spend time today reflecting on what you can sacrifice to the Lord. Consider what you’re withholding. Consider whether or not you’re offering your first fruits. Make the necessary changes to your life and routine in order to give God what He is due
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.