When we give something to God, we are to give our best. God has given us His best and everything that we have is not even ours—it is His. Everything.
When we look at Cain and Abel, today’s passage speaks volumes. Abel brought an offering from the FIRSTBORN animals. They were CHOICE CUTS of meat. Firstborn. The first of what Abel had was given to God. Cain also brought an offering, but the passage simply says “produce of his farm.” It likely wasn’t the firstfruits. It was what he gathered from his farm but it wasn’t the first.
As you read your Bible, again and again we read of the firstfruits and the dedication of the oldest (first) child to the Lord. When we tithe, it is to be the first of our income—money right off the top before we do anything else. When we provide an offering (which is something above the tithe), it should also be something that is meaningful. We shouldn’t give out of excess. It all comes down to the heart. It all comes down to trusting God. He has given us His best.
“Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.”
– Genesis 4:3-5 [MSG]
We are not told exactly why Cain’s offering was unacceptable but Abel’s was pleasing to God. In Genesis 4:3-4, we see that Cain brought “some” and Abel brought “the best.” I think if I had to choose between some or the best, I would choose the best. Then in verse 7, Cain is told, “You will be accepted if you do what is right.” It is clear that Cain did not do what was right, and that possibly was linked with a poor attitude that needed correction.
We see this attitude problem from Cain when he gets jealous because Abel’s offering was accepted. God warned Cain that sin was crouching nearby and the attitude needed to be changed, but Cain did not wish to move toward God and seek the remedy. Instead he invited his brother to an outing and then killed Abel. Matthew said that Abel was the first to die for the truth (23:35).
We all have a choice—to be more like Abel or more like Cain when it comes to pleasing God. We don’t know much about these brothers, but we do know a few things. Abel gave the best. Abel did what was pleasing to God. Cain did not present a suitable offering. Cain did not seek out God when told he needed to change his focus. Abel gave all; Cain gave some. Where do you fit? Are you giving the best? Are you trying to live a life pleasing to God? Or are you getting irritated and wanting to do things your own way?
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must rule over it.’” – Genesis 4:6-7 [NIV]