Hebrews 11:4 NKJV
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
Have you ever given God your best or all that you had, wondering how you would go on from there? The story of Cain and Abel is interesting because it deals with giving God something and giving God everything.
Genesis 4:3-5 NKJV: And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
At first glance, it seems that God was playing favorites. I mean, after all, Cain brought what he did and Abel brought what he did. But a closer inspection of the passage reveals that Cain brought “an offering” and Abel brought “the firstborn.” What is the difference?
There may be a variety of significance attached to being the firstborn. Of those, one might include being stronger or more healthy. Certainly, the firstborn was likely to be the best, the biggest, the animal that might be reserved for breeding and improving the herd. But there is also another issue. A firstborn animal would naturally grow up sooner and be ready more quickly for breeding or slaughter. In other words, by giving up a firstborn, Abel risked his livelihood and needed to trust God to reward him for his love and faith.
Cain, on the other hand, didn’t give even the best of his crops, but rather just gave some. In other words, its unlikely that Cain risked his future through his offering. Rather he gave what he could spare, while Abel gave sacrificially, trusting God to provide.
Always God wants us to give all and then to trust Him to provide. Paul talks about this kind of giving:
2 Cor. 8:1-5 NKJV: Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
This church gave beyond their ability and, in fact, pressed the gift upon Paul, insisting that he take it. Why? Because they trusted God to provide. They were willing to give, understanding that every gift is actually a gift to the Lord, and then trusted God’s promise to provide for their needs. That is, I think, the kind of faith that the writer to Hebrews talks about when he talks about Abel’s faith. The willingness to give, rather than to hoard, to share, rather than to save, and to trust God with all of it.
For any of us, we could be called home today. In the twinkling of an eye we could be in the presence of the Savior. What opportunities for ministry have we avoided because of our fear of the future? Where have we said “no” to others because we wanted to make sure we had enough to face tomorrow? Trusting God as Abel did is a hard thing. It goes beyond all common sense, all logic. It is truly a sacrifice because it means that we might actually hurt, actually do without. But in the end, what matters is trusting God and understanding that life itself is a hiccup. Only what we do in Christ’s name will last.