Does God get the best or the rest?
The first story recorded after the fall of Adam and Eve is actually a story of the first-ever family feud. In Genesis 4, we are told the story of Cain and Abel and the sacrifices they bring to God. Both men bring an offering to God but only one offering is deemed acceptable. The text tells us that Cain brought an offering before the lord.
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground,
— Genesis 4:3
The following verse tells us something about Abel’s offering:
and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,
— Genesis 4:4
Theologians have often asked the question: Why was the sacrifice of Abel accepted, and Cain’s rejected? Some theologians have suggested that the problem with Cain’s sacrifice was that it lacked blood. Further research will indicate that this was not the problem with Cain’s sacrifice (See Leviticus 2). From the text, we can conclude that the problem with Cain’s sacrifice is the simple fact that there was no sacrifice. Cain didn’t offer his best, he offered what he had. Abel on the other hand offered his best. Cain puts minimal effort in his sacrifice. Abel gave an offering that was his best. The Bible tells us that the first thing Abel did was separate out the first-born lambs, and then he set aside the fattest of the firstborn lambs. The text would indicate that Abel put much thought and preparation into presenting his sacrifice. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel couldn’t be any more different.
Abel made a sacrifice, while Cain offered some fruit.
It is easy to read the story of Cain and Abel and assume that our worship looks like that of Abel. I have often wandered about Cain’s preparation. I think that Cain wasn’t opposed to giving God his best, he just wasn’t mindful of giving God his best. Is my worship the same? How many times have I stayed up late on Saturday, only to be exhausted at church on Sunday? How many times have I skipped my devotional time, only to watch another television episode? If I am honest, in a busy world full of distractions, my worship looks more like Cain’s and less like Abel’s. It is my hope and prayer that we would be a people that are mindful of our worship to God.