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]
This morning it was drizzling but I still faithfully took my dog for a walk. As we continued up the street, I noticed that there was a newspaper that was poking through the plastic covering that the delivery person used for protection. In a quick moment, I passed by thinking that the newspaper would get all wet and perhaps I should pick it up and put it under the safety of the porch roof. But instead, I did nothing. I left it where it was and made excuses as to why I could not do that simple act. As I was a few blocks away, I started to feel regretful for not taking the opportunity that was right before me. It was a simple act of love that did not happen.
I think that too often there are opportunities presented to you and I, and I personally know that there are times in my life when I make excuses to not take action. I have heard many excuses as to why help cannot be given to someone, to the church, to a family in need, to a cause. Though this world is a hectic place and our schedules get busy, I think of how Jesus was walking toward one person when another person came in need of help. The lady reached out and touched His garment, and although He was on His way to pay a visit to the daughter of Jairus, He stopped and spoke to this woman (Mark 5). I remember how even after He was teaching at Capernaum and most likely tired from a busy day, He went back to Peter’s house to settle, only to still continue healing and reaching out to help others (Mark 1).
We will not always reach out. We will find ourselves making excuses. We will say we are too tired, too overwhelmed, too busy, too focused elsewhere, too unworthy, too untrained, too afraid. The list could go on and on with excuses I’ve given or heard. Thank God that He never makes excuses.
Today I encourage you to be the person who puts the newspaper on the porch. I pray that when you notice that you are making excuses for something that you can easily do before you walk away so that later you won’t be feeling guilty that you did not do more. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Do not neglect to do what is good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]
Walking the dog can lead me to some disgusting finds. Yesterday we found a dead squirrel, today a dead bird. I cringed both times, and had to remove myself from the area quickly. I felt ill from the sight. Yet I have to be honest and admit that when I have seen human beings dead, I have been fine. The reason, I believe, is because I worked ten years in Long Term Care, seeing hundreds of people when their pulse ceased. It became such a normal sight and I was trained to work through it. I am not saying I had no feelings or that their lives were meaningless to me. I prayed for them. I shed tears for them. They were family to me. I am saying that I became conditioned to be able to accept the death of human beings and to be around those who were dead.
In society I see so many people that are conditioned to accept the things of this world. We are all part of that group. The Bible tells us that we are not of this world and that we are not to accept the things of this world. The Bible holds that we are to love people, but not love the things people do that are against God’s intention, His purpose, His design, His commands. Yet we have seen that society is slowly accepting the unacceptable. Friends have blamed the television and have claimed that they will not allow their children to watch any television programming. I ask them, what do you do when your child exits the bubble of your household and is in contact with the world? We are met with many challenges everywhere, with the world and its views pressing in on us.
To take a biblical worldview, one must dive into the Word and cling to everything that is Truth. One must seek the Holy Spirit for illumination, for strength, for guidance. One must see God with every situation, think like Jesus, and make a choice by what the Bible says. It is very difficult. It’s not something that we always do correctly. Honestly, we are lucky when we can sometimes get it right. For it is so easy for us to accept what is around us and say that it will be okay. It is so much less work, less grief, less of a struggle to simply accept and embrace what the world accepts. We handle it as if we have been conditioned to accept it. We’ve seen it so much so it is not so bad. Not so bad. I love that phrase. To me, not so bad means that we have decided to give degrees to the depth of bad, to the levels of evil. Not so bad means there is some bad. Anything bad, is not good. Anything not good is not from God.
I pray that as you journey onward today, that you are able to focus on the good. I pray that when the world does its thing, that you stick with doing God’s thing, despite the problems that will arise when you go against the grain. We have a tough road ahead, but God has promised to be with us through it all, and we know we have victory through Christ. God has a perfect plan for each of our lives, and as we continue onward, allowing Him to direct our paths, we are blessed to see His perfect plan unfold in our lives.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2 [NLT]