What Are We Doing This For?

Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel? In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 4, we read that Cain murdered his brother Abel after they both brought offerings to God.  God respected Abel’s offering but Cain’s, He did not respect. There is some debate as to why God respected Abel’s offering and not Cain’s. Some speculate that God must have previously communicated to them that animal sacrifice was the proper way to make a sin offering. Cain offered up fruit instead of offering an animal as God had prescribed and therefore Cain was being disobedient. That is a possibility but I don’t see that in the text. We don’t even really know the reason why they brought their offerings. The Hebrew word used for offering in the particular passage is a general term for offering or gift. According to Genesis 4:3-5 we know:

  • Both Cain & Abel brought something from the fruits of their Labor
  • Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.
  • Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground.


Genesis 4:3-6 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. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”   
I have my own theory about why God did not respect Cain’s offering. I do not think it was a matter of God laying out some rules and Cain not following the rules which resulted in God not respecting Cain or his offering.
  1. Cain was very angry and his countenance fell. If he did not care enough to follow some rules I don’t think he would have cared about the consequences.
  2. It seems like the issue had more to do with Cain’s attitude about the response that God had to his brother Abel’s offering than His response to his own.
  3. The text specifically mentions that Abel brought the firstborn and of their fat, and that God respected Abel and his offering. The implication seems to be that Abel thought highly enough of God to bring his best, but Cain did not think highly enough of God to bring his best.


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.”

I think Cain made the same mistake that we, as Christians, still make today. Cain was born into a family of blame-shifters. Unfortunately, each of us were also born into a family of blame-shifters—the human family. Just as in Cain’s situation, sin is always stretching out its neck to ensnare us (sin “lies at the door”). For whatever reason, Cain started to compare himself to his brother instead of focusing on the goodness of the LORD. God warned him about it and He tried to help Cain think through the situation…”Why are you angry?”…”If you do well will you not be accepted?” But instead of heeding the voice of the LORD, Cain allowed a root of bitterness to infect his thinking and it grew deeper and deeper to the point that he hated his brother enough to kill him.


1 John 3:11-12

“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

I know that a life of serving others can be very demanding. It can also be frustrating and disappointing during times where we stop thinking highly of the One whom we serve and start doing Cost (to me)-Benefit (to me) Analysis. When we start doing that we are using the wrong benchmarks to measure our success in ministry and we can become envious and angry toward others. Recently Pastor Jon suggested we read “On Being a Servant” by Warren Wiersbe in our Men’s Fellowship. I have found that book to be very helpful. It has reminded me that I cannot let my love for God stop being the motivation for my service. Although we may not go around literally killing each other, this Cain-type of attitude can suck the life out of a church and create divisions among its people. There is a much better way.

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