OUR “OFFERINGS”: The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving

4_cain-abel-sacrifices

Genesis 4:1-5  (N.L.T):

“[1] Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant.  When she gave birth to CAIN, she said “With the Lord’s help I have produced a man.”  [2] Later she gave birth to his brother and named him ABEL.

When they grew up, ABEL became a shepherd, while CAIN cultivated the ground.  [3] When it was time for the harvest, CAIN presented some of his crop as a gift to the Lord.  [4] ABEL also brought a gift–the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted ABEL and his gift,  [5] but he did not accept CAIN and his gift.  This made CAIN very angry, and he looked dejected.” 

THE DIFFERENCES: Revealing the “habitude” of Giving:

Approaching and knowing God eventually determines our destiny in eternity.  In willingly accepting Him solely, the basis of FAITH in God’s provision through the shedding of blood by our Redeemer, God’s Lamb, we are spiritually of the heaven-born “seed of the woman” and restored to God’s presence in fellowship.

All that said, if a person continues down the path distorting and rejecting the Word of God–The Scripture–and relying on their own merits to earn salvation, they are interposing their own will in place of His, presuming to be as “gods”, knowing good and evil, consequently becoming the “serpents seed.”

TWO BROTHERS ATTITUDES ON DISPLAY:

I am an older brother by seven years.  Seven years is a big difference.  I remember how excited I was when my parents told me at 7, that I, was no longer going to be an “only child.”

There wasn’t graphic sonograms in the late 40’s, so the anticipation of a brother or sister didn’t come into play.  Although, I think I really wanted a baby sister (Sorry, Larry).  On ‘boy-child’ in the family would certainly enough for my parents to handle.

In growing up as “the older brother,”  and looking back on those formative years, there were FOUR THINGS that stood out in our relationship:

1.   We had very little in common.

2.  My parents let him get away with everything!

3.  We had very little in common.

4.  My parents let him get away with everything!

Okay, maybe I’m just a bit repugnant–but I think you get the point.

After I got married, had children and seemed to be struggling  with staying employed…at the same time, my brother was graduating from Seminary with a Master’s Degree, then later, a PhD.   Me, I was a college dropout, trying support s family and was “Mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore” -[ii] kind of attitude.

Although I’ve always been proud of what my brother has accomplished in life… I was always jealous, envious of the opportunities I thought was made accessible from mom and dad.  I felt somewhat cheated and wanted to scream out to everyone that would listen,  “Mom and dad always loved you best!.”

Cain and Abel–Biblical Names Had Meaning! 

Giving names to the newborns  today is much different from Biblical days.  NAMES in the Bible were significant in a variety of functions.

—  A Record of some aspects of a person’s birth.

—  Sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child.

Biblical names could be also used to communicate God’s message.

Here’s a really interesting part I discovered while researching BIBLICAL NAMES GIVEN:  Names were often used to express the NATURE, FUNCTION of a person, to indicate a person’s PURPOSE in the world.  Now, that’s a lot of pressure put on a child; trying to live up to your parents expectations.

The greatest example of this type of naming is JESUS (Matthew 1:20-21)–the Savior of the world!

Adam and Eve Become Parents of Two Boys:

The name “Cain” means “gotten”, derived from Eve’s exclamation of joyful birth, even though the suffering associated with the childbirth was there…she also had seen God’s faithfulness in giving her a son.

The Younger Brother–

Perhaps Eve hoped her firstborn might be the promised Deliverer (Genesis 3:13), even though he was not in a specific biological sense, a “seed of the woman.”  In fact, he “was of that wicked one (1 John 3:12)–first in the long line of the Serpents seed.

“Abel” on the other hand, was in the household of faith and the very first mentioned in the long line of men of faith recorded in Hebrews 11, (see verse 4).  He is called “righteous” and a prophet (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:50, 51).  

The name “ABEL” means “vapor” or “vanity”, and suggests that, by the time of Abel’s birth, his mother had become thoroughly impressed with the impact of God’s curse on the word.  God had indeed made creation “subject to vanity”  (Romans 8:20).  I don’t recommend naming a child today, “Abel.”  You might just get what you ask for!

We also know from God’s word, the younger brother Abel, became a rancher.

Just a side-note before going on:  Man was not authorized until after the Flood to use animals for food (Genesis 1:29; 2:16; 3:19; 9:3).  Animal Skins, were used for a covering (Genesis 3:21) and not the “blood”.

God’s Choosing of What Is An Acceptable Offering:

God has but one standard.  He values everything based on His excellence.

When we think of the story of CAIN and ABEL, sometimes we picture the scene set forth like this:

*  Two men – brothers – Cain and Abel…

Cain's Offering
Cain’s Offering

*  Cain is a farmer;

*  Abel is a rancher;

*  Cain goes out to harvest his crops.

*  As he does, he puts together an offering to God.  Being the older brother, Cain had been giving offerings to the Lord for sometime.  It might have even become a “habit”.

*  Abel also puts together an offering to God

*  He picks out an animal and offers it to God

*  God looks at both offerings–Cain’s on the left, Abel’s on the right

*  After considering them both, He chooses Abel’s over Cain’s

*  It’s as if God is saying,  I’ll take “lamb” chops over “brussels sprouts and carrots.”

Abel's Offering
Abel’s Offering

THIS IS NOT THE SCENARIO HERE!

First, we are never told that the offerings were made together.  Each offering is made independently of the other.

In verse 3, we are told that Cain brought an “offering of the fruit of the ground.”

In verse 4, Abel also made an offering: “the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions”.  

Nowhere are we told in Scripture these offerings were made together–as if they are in “brotherly competition”.  We are simply told, they each made an offering.

God on His part considered each offering–

He didn’t make a comparison to each other–He considered each offering based on its own merit.

We see Jesus teaching His followers about giving offerings, “casting money into the treasury…throwing in large sums.”

ATTITUDE OF THE HEART in versus the ABUNDANCE of the wallet–

“And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent.

And He called His disciples and said to them,  Truly and surely I tell you, this widow poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury.

For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had–[even] all she had on which to live” (Mark 12:41-44 AMP).

CHOOSING WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE:

As God made His choice in accepting the OFFERING OF ABEL, and not the OFFERING OF CAIN in Genesis 4:4, 5, we see His conclusion:

[4]  Abel also brought a gift–the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock.  The Lord accepted Abel and his gift  [5] but He did not accept Cain and his gift.  This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

In studying this passage, I came to the understanding that God didn’t reject Cain’s offering because Abels’ was better, and He didn’t accept Abel’s offering because Cain’s was inferior.

Our “OFFERINGS” Viewed from God’s Perspective–

Maybe we can make some conclusions here–conclusions that certainly helped my investigation into God’s Word in how to offer better sacrifices  on Sundays or anytime–giving financially and in giving our worship!

Consider Cain’s Offering…

I think as parents, Adam and Eve might have been hoping God’s Word would be fulfilled with and in their “first-born son”:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring…

There was hope and optimism towards the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  They no doubt were certain that their first-born son would eventually crush Satan’s head.

It wasn’t long, however, that hope and optimism began to dwindle.

Disillusionment revealed..

By the time their 2nd son was born, calling him “Abel”–“Abel” by the way means; “emptiness”–life in the family began to change.  In my study, I found all this detail given, a great importance:  It tells us an awful lot about the person “Cain”.

What a disappointment he must have been to mom and dad in choosing the given names.  So much so, that when his little brother was born, they would say with regret,  OK no, not another worthless child.

Think about it for a minute:  They had hoped that their first child, be the “deliverer.”  Instead, their joy–their hope–in their first-born son would fulfill God’s promise–would be a person who became selfish, prideful and egocentric.  Cain’s every thought seemed to focus on his wants, his needs, his fulfillment.  Do you see the irony in the boy’s names they received?

CAIN, which means “of God,” turns out to be worthless.

ABEL, which means “worthless,” turns out to be the righteous one.

THE BROTHERS OFFERINGS:

It was never the CONTENT of the OFFERING at all that God rejected.  It was the person making the offering.

Notice the wording in Genesis 4:5:

“But He did not accept Cain and his gift…”

It wasn’t just the “offering” God rejected, but Cain himself.  It seems to me that Cain’s sacrifice was more of an attempt to appease God, than an act of FAITH & WORSHIP.

Christianity can sometimes be practiced today…

On Sunday mornings between 10:00 to noon.  A person goes to church every Sunday, hoping that this “sacrificial giving” appeases God…or their church.

Then, from noon of Sunday till 10:00 the next Sunday, live their lives the way they want.  No regard to a holy and just God.  Practicing all kinds of selfishness.

We are FILLED with ego and pride; live day-to-day filling our lives with things that offend our Lord.

We give bo regard to our neighbor, to the hurting, to the needy.

We have little time for devotions, prayer, and Bible study; about the only time we even remember God is when we specifically want something.

God spoke to me a few years ago on a Sunday morning, right before the musicians headed up to the stage-platform:  “Mel, what you do within these 4 walls every Sunday morning beginning at 10:30, is NOT CHRISTIANITY!” 

“IT’S WORSHIP…it’s our OFFERING TO GOD!”

God can only accept our WORSHIP on Sunday morning IF….

Our lives demonstrate our FAITH the rest of the week.

That’s where CAIN FAILED–and when he discovered his worship wasn’t acceptable to God, he became angry.

He comes to God with the OFFERING…God seeing that his HEART isn’t right…can’t accept it.  Cain, instead of repenting and changing his life, storms off angry, bitter, and jealous of his brother’s acceptance…”God always loved you best Abel” attitude.

Wrong Thinking Developed from an Unrighteous Heart Condition–

Cain says to himself:  If I get rid of my brother, no one else will know and God will have to accept me.  And his heart remains cold and unresponsive to God’s leading.

Looking at Abel’s Offering…why was God willing to accept the sacrifice?

I found the main reason, probably the only reason in Hebrews 11:4:  “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith…”

If there is but one word that makes a difference between these two offerings, this it:  FAITH.

By faith, Abel offered to God…he knew he couldn’t appease God.  Abel knew and understood that he needed God’s grace–it was God’s mercy, so he made an “OFFERING” that represented his hearts desire.  A DESIRE to follow the Lord with a broken and contrite heart.  ABEL, had sacrificed the “first-born” of his flock.

“But for CAIN and for his OFFERING He [God] had no regard”–

God regarded the person over the offering.  WHY?  Because of the brother’s hearts–not because of their offering.  I’ve grown to understand, WORSHIP is a matter of my HEART–not the matter of form.

Cain’s form was fine–nothing wrong with a “grain offering.”  He could make all of the sacrifices that he wanted to, but until his HEART CONDITION was right…he would never have a relationship with God.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP TODAY:

Millions of people think GOD LOVES CHURCH ATTENDANCE.  They are leaders in their church and in their communities.  Teaching Sunday School, Nursery Workers, Singers on the church stage…hoping and praying all of this will make them acceptable to God.  That their GIFTS, GOOD DEEDS, TITHING REGULARLY…will “punch their ticket” to heaven.

That fact is, God has already been appeased…

Jesus Christ bought and paid for our SALVATION on the Cross of Calvary.

Our Response?  It must be the same as Abel’s.  The only way we can have RELATIONSHIP with God is through FAITH.  

What is FAITH?  

Most of us understand FAITH to mean–“trust” or “believe” and these are good definitions.  In fact, if you think about it, EVERYBODY has some kind of faith in their lives:

—  Some trust in their own deeds – believing like Cain;  “I can do the right things”

—  Some believe there is no God – a stupid kind of faith, but “faith” never the less.

—  Some trust and believe in Jesus!

They are the ones, the believers in Jesus, who have a relationship with God.

Why was God pleased with Abe’s offering and not Cain’s?  Because God was pleased with Abel and not Cain.

So it doesn’t matter what you SACRIFICE for God, if your heart is not right with Him,  He cannot and will not accept your offerings.  God doesn’t need your money put in the offering basket every Sunday…He wants your HEART first of all!

An Acceptable Offering
An Acceptable Offering

However, if you have received JESUS CHRIST as your Lord and Savior, your OFFERING…your SACRIFICE OF WORSHIP will be a pleasing aroma before the Lord.

 

Footnote:  [1]  Line from the movie “Network”.

Photos: by Photo Pin

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “OUR “OFFERINGS”: The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving

  1. Jeannie Pallett April 30, 2014 / 7:47 am

    Its always the condition of our heart isn’t it! God looks at the condition of our hearts and not our outward appearance. Our faith is visible to Him and it brings Him pleasure. Knowing that places a greater desire to press into the things of faith and the Word and to train our ears to listen for His voice. At special offering times, my husband and I only give the amount we both have ‘sensed’ to give ~ and yes when we share our answers, our numbers are always the same! There is such a depth to our faith walk and I love the way as a Body we bring our gifts to the table and grow through the insights shared. Always appreciate the wisdom in your words Mel.

    Like

    • theworddetective April 30, 2014 / 11:30 am

      Right on Jeannie! But our giving goes well beyond the moment of “the tithes & offerings” on Sundays. Beyond the “habitudes” during the week. Our “heart condition” is searched by Yeshua in our prayers, our worship, our praises, our meditation…in everything that we offer to Him. I appreciate you Jeannie and God appreciates you!

      Like

  2. Kathleen April 29, 2014 / 1:21 pm

    Excellent message Mel! “Why was God pleased with Abe’s offering and not Cain’s? Because God was pleased with Abel and not Cain.”

    Like

    • theworddetective April 29, 2014 / 2:54 pm

      Exactly. Now the question becomes for us, “Is God pleased with our offerings when we give…everytime?

      Like

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