We often like to add our two cents. It could be sufficient to say a particular thing but we add a little more because it’s on the tip of our tongue. We direct people to a passage of the Bible and then continue onward with our position. Some of us take whatever position we are in and go beyond the position’s description. For some of us, we serve those who are disadvantaged—we get saddened by their situation or irritated by their constant needs. Paul tells us to “keep a smile on your face” and not to add to whatever it is you are doing.
When you are preaching, it should be the Word of God, not your own agenda. When you are helping someone, you help—you don’t take over the situation and become an enabler. When you teach, you be sure to focus on teaching the Bible and not drifting off. When you are providing guidance and encouraging people, you do not cross the line and become bossy, trying to get the people to take your counsel and force your position. When you are in charge of something, you are not to use it to your advantage and get people to do as you desire. If you are in a position to help those that are in distress, be sure to pay attention so you can answer the call and not miss the boat. If you work with those who are disadvantaged, you should not be depressed by their situation. At the same time, you should never let them cause you to get irritated.
This is a lot of do’s and do not’s. It sounds like a bunch of rules. But what Paul is saying can be simplified—whatever you are called to do, do it with a smile and always point to Christ. It is not about you—it is about Him. If you always aim to point others to Christ and it is all about Him and not about you, all of these “rules” will be followed. When we add our two cents, we make it about us. It can never be about us.
“If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” – Romans 12:6-8 [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]