Summary: Why Cain’s offering rejected, Abel’s accepted, why Cain killed Abel, how God responded, how we should live in the light of this
• Sisters: Carol (13, going into year 9) & Abbie (10, going into year 6)
• It was day before Mother’s Day
• Both girls got a card for their Mum
Abbie went and bought the nicest… coloured card, glue, glitter, colouring pens…made the card (drew some sheep- Mum likes them)…gave to Mum
Carol, getting late, went to 24-hour shop and bought a card. The only one they had left was creased over in the corner and had a rather faded drawing of a bowl of fruit on it… gave it to Mum
• It was Mothering Sunday; Mum opened both cards. She said, “Ahhh how lovely,” when she opened Abbie’s one, but Mum didn’t say anything when she opened Carol’s one.
• How do you think Mum felt?
• Yes, Mum wasn’t happy with Carol’s card. She put Abbie’s on the mantelpiece over the fireplace, but she left Carol’s on the kitchen table.
• How do you think Carol felt?
• Yes, Carol wasn’t happy either. In fact she was extremely…. What?
• Angry! She went up to her room and lay on her bed facing the wall all afternoon
• At about 6pm, Mum came up and said it would soon be time for tea. Carol didn’t say anything, so Mum asked her, “What’s the matter with you? Why does your face look like thunder?!”
• Carol still didn’t say anything…
• Mum said, “Now, Carol, I appreciated Abbie’s card because she’d obviously put some effort into it, and written lovely things in it; whereas you’ve just given me any old card and have just written, “To Mum, From Carol.” You see, I’ll accept what you give me, as long as it’s truly from the heart…” Mum went down to finish making dinner…
• Do you think Carol felt better? What do you think she did?
• After dinner, Carol asked to be excused. She went into the living room and took Abbie’s card and put it in her pocket. Then she went to find Abbie. She took her into the garden because she said she’d found some amazing butterflies. But when they got down to the bottom of the garden, Carol produced Abbie’s card and took it out and tore it up in front of Abbie and then she pulled Abbie’s hair and made Abbie eat some of the pieces of the card. Why do you think she did that?
• Mum heard Abbie crying and came pounding out of the house looking furious. “What have you done?” said Mum. “Where’s Abbie’s card?”
• What do you think Mum did to Carol?
• She was actually so cross, that Carol had to go straight to her room and she was grounded for the rest of the month. But Carol wasn’t sorry for what she had done, because the meanness had got right inside her heart.
• Now, what sort of things should Carol have done?
1. Why was Cain’s offering rejected and Abel’s accepted?
Cain didn’t have God high on his priority list, whereas Abel put God first. “In the course of time” (3). Confession: when preparing this sermon, I was distracted by many other things (such as TV & computer games & shopping & telephone, etc.) before I came before God and His Word to really try and understand it. Do we put God first in our daily lives, or only when we have time to fit Him in? How insulting this really is. Jesus: only one thing He put above other people at times: time alone with God: “15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16).
Cain didn’t bring the best; Abel did. He brought “an offering”, whereas Abel brought “the firstborn of his flock” (3,4). Like Carol in the story, Cain was content to let God have the offcuts of his life, rather than the really juicy bits. We give God our Sunday mornings and evenings, but where do our thoughts and passions lie for the rest of the week?
Cain didn’t come as a sinner; Abel did. Some commentators suggest that Cain only brought fruit because he did not understand that we can only be accepted before God on the basis on a blood sacrifice. Cain was perhaps still clinging on to his own righteousness. Even when we come to church to make an offering of worship to God, are we coming in our own strength, or coming ‘naked’, with empty hands, clinging only to the Cross of Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf? Abel seems to have realised he was not able!
Cain didn’t come in faith (most importantly); Abel did. “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4). Why should God accept (Hebrew: smile upon) what we do? Because it is polished and excellent? Why did Mum like Abbie’s card? Because it was an artistic masterpiece? No, because of the trust and the love that was in Abbie’s heart for her mother, which made the card a worthy and delightful offering for her mother. God is wholly concerned with our attitude and our dependence on Him, and He can only really make use of us when we cease to see ourselves as being great and having a lot to offer. It’s His strength working through us that creates offerings worthy of Him.