Imagine you bring a gift to someone, and they refuse to take it. How do you feel?
There are two possibilities. The first is you ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” You resolve to do better. The second is you become angry with the one who rejected your offering.
That is exactly what happens in this story from Genesis. Cain becomes angry over God’s rejection. “His face fell” is a figure of sadness and depression. What made the difference between the two cases?
A superficial explanation says the difference was the offerings. Abel’s offering, it is said, was somehow “better” than Cain’s. In some ways, it was. Abel brought from the “firstborn” and the “fat portions.” Cain simply brought an offering, without further description.
But we must look deeper to learn the real difference. As always in Scripture, the true difference is not external but internal. The author intended for us to see the difference between the hearts of the two men.
Abel, out of faith, comes in worship to give something to God. Cain, out of greed, comes to get something from God. His attempt to manipulate God ends with disappointment. God rejects all such offerings. They do not honor Him.
They do no good for us, either. Angry and depressed that God didn’t do what he wanted, Cain’s life slides downhill. He commits the world’s first murder and becomes a fugitive. Abel gives us an example of true devotion from the heart. He gives freely out of love. Doing that honors God and lifts our spirits too.
Lord, I ask for nothing in return. Help me give to you out of joy, love, and thanksgiving. Amen.
Go deeper – sacrifices can be motivated by joy and thanksgiving. Is there a gift of time, presence, or money you could make out of thankfulness for what God has done?
Photo Credit: Elaine Casap