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January 9, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.”—Genesis 4:3–5 (NLT)
My wife’s an English teacher. She recently told me about a cool assignment she gave her ninth grade students. They had to pick a controversial topic and essentially write persuasive speeches, which they would then have to deliver in front of the class. After class, a few students asked what the highest grade they could get would be if they didn’t want to deliver the speech.
I never understood that. Why would you be okay with mediocrity? Why wouldn’t you simply put forth your very best effort? Why wouldn’t you offer up the very best you have in order to reap the greatest reward?
There’s been a lot of debate about the passage above regarding the offerings of Cain and Abel. Why did God accept Abel’s offering and reject Cain’s? Notice how the passage says Cain brought “some of his crops,” while Abel brought “the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock.” I believe the evidence strongly points to the fact that Cain brought an offering that was like that of the student who was okay getting a lower grade to not have to deliver a speech. He wasn’t willing to give his best or put in the sacrifice required to achieve the most pleasing result . . . but then he got upset when he didn’t get the most pleasing result.
Man, how often is that us? How often do we look at the Christian life with this twisted perspective? If I serve once in a while, attend a night of worship here and there, and come to Sunday service twice a month, that should be enough. This is the wrong mentality. Even if we come to every service, serve every week, lead a small group, and attend every prayer and worship night there is, if our heart is “That should be enough,” it never will be.
What we should be saying is, “I get to worship God today! I get to show His love by serving others, so I’m going to go with joy and excitement! I can’t believe I get to lift up my burdens and intercede for others today!”
The offering to God is not the physical act—it’s not the grain or the flock—it’s the heart behind it. Are you giving the first fruits of your heart, are you laying all your heart humbly at the altar to God as Abel did, or are you just trying to check this whole sacrifice thing off your checklist like Cain?
DIG: What does the text tell you about the offerings of Cain and Abel?
DISCOVER: How do you see yourself in Cain and/or Abel?
DO: What are you offering the Lord today? Do an inventory of your heart, take stock of what you’re keeping for yourself and what you’re giving to God.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at 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.