In Genesis 4 we get the first recorded act of worship. Cain and Abel bring offerings before the Lord. You know the story…it cuts right to the chase and goes from their birth to their offerings in three short verses. In this story we learn that Cain offered portions of his harvest and Abel offered animals from his herd. Without any recorded command of what God wanted we learn that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but did not find favor with Cain over his sacrifice. Later in the Torah, God accepted grain and other sacrifices from the harvest. So that is not totally foreign to God, that God might only desire animal sacrifices.
The difference was the quality of their offerings. Cain brought some of his produce. Abel brought the fat portions from some of the firstborn among his animals. It wasn’t that Cain didn’t want to please God. He was very disappointed that his offering didn’t elicit the desired response from his creator. The problem was he didn’t consider giving God his best.
It is possible for us to fill the shoes of Cain…or flip flops or whatever the first family wore. It is possible to give something to God that is in the category of pleasing items but the quality of which is lacking. For it to be a sacrifice it has to be a sacrifice. How can we fall into this category? We do this when we are minimalist Christians and minimalist worshippers of God. You see this in people who come to service, take the Lord’s Supper and leave. You see this in people who figure opening the Bible on Sunday morning is enough for the week. You see this in people who figure out what they are going to give with the collection on Sunday as the trey is coming toward them. In many other places and many other ways this can be lived out today in our lives.
I wonder if God is just as displeased with us as he was with Cain when we share the attitude of offering ourselves to God asking “Will just this much do?” We shouldn’t be surprised if God is disappointed when we do that. Let us have the attitude and disposition of Abel. He saved the best for God. He gave God the choice portions of those animals and not just any animals…the costliest ones to him, the first born. What can we give to God that falls in the category of the choice parts of the firstborn from among our flocks and herds?