Tuesday Reflection – January 14, 2020
The Person Behind The Gift
In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel gave their offerings to God. While God was pleased with the offering given by Abel, God was displeased with Cain’s offering. Cain was not happy with God’s displeasure and became angry. Today’s Watchword is God’s response to Cain’s anger. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4: 7
This is described as one of the most difficult biblical texts to understand because of the difficulty with translating it. Many theories have been given as to why God rejected Cain’s offering yet chose Abel’s. Some scholars have concluded that this was God’s prerogative and needed no reason. God chose to accept and reject because He is God. While possible it would be inconsistent with God’s characteristic of being just and fair. Another theory is that Cain’s gift was refused because it was not an animal and did not include blood. This is most unlikely however since it was not a sacrifice that was being made but an offering, and both brothers were expected to give offerings from what they were occupied with. One raised animals and the other planted crops. Still another theory is that while Abel gave of his best to the Lord, Cain did not put out any effort and simply brought a gift that was not the best of his produce. The only reason why a person would not give of their best to the Lord is that they are neither fully committed to nor fully trusting of God. Giving in such cases becomes a routine or a show. When we are not considerate and intentional in our giving to God, we risk our gift being rejected by God. This cautions us to be very careful in our giving because it is possible to be giving the biggest, most attractive gifts, to be giving the heaviest envelopes or writing the biggest checks and not have our gifts accepted by God. The earthly recipients may be very happy, but we receive no blessing because our gifts have not been pleasing to God because we have not given our best. God is more interested in the person behind the gift than in the gift itself.
It behooves us therefore to give the gift that truly pleases God. The way to do this is to be more like Abel in our giving than like Cain. I tend to like the school of thought that says that God’s response to the brother’s giving had nothing to do with the gifts they gave but with the attitude behind their giving. Abel’s gift was given in faith while Cain’s was not. Abel’s gift reflected his gratitude to God while Cain was using his to seek latitude before God. Have you ever thought about what is behind your giving? God challenged Cain even as we are challenged daily, to understand the attitude behind his giving. ‘Do well and your gift will be accepted.’ Not doing well in our giving is therefore a result of sinfulness. Sin is always close, always seeking to overpower us. Like Cain we too are warned not to fall into sin but to overpower it. Our giving should flow from an attitude of gratitude. That way nothing we possess would be considered too great a gift for our Lord who gave us everything in the first place. A final lesson to note friends is that the heart that gives acceptable gifts to God is one that has mastered sin. Let us again examine our giving and learn of our faithfulness and commitment to God. Let us follow the instructions of our teaching text, 1 Timothy 6: 11 ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.’ In so doing we will develop characters that please God, for God values the person behind the gift much more than the gift itself. With the right attitude towards God our gifts will always be accepted by God. Amen