Summary: Why was Cain’s sacrifice unacceptable to God?
GENESIS 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 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.” 8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
There was a married man that didn’t get along with his mother-in-law. He was walking on the beach and yes, he found a majic lamp. He rubbed it and sure enough, out popped a Genie. Yes, he told him he could have 3 wishes, but with one condition....everything that he wished for and got, his mother-in-law would get double. He wished for a million dollars. His mother-in-law got 2 million. He wished for a beautiful, fancy house.....his mother-in-law got 2 houses. Finally, the Genie asked for his last wish. The man thought a moment and said "I want you to take this baseball bat...and beat me HALF to death!"
Jealousy is ugly! One sign of jealousy is when it’s easier to show sympathy and "weep with those who weep" than it is to exhibit joy and "rejoice with those who rejoice." As human beings, we love to make comparisons. Almost everything we do, from our cars, our clothes, our appliances, our food – almost everything we have we tend to compare to that of others.
The problem with making comparisons is that we take them too far. We have a tendency to determine the value of ourselves and other human beings by comparing one person to another. How many times have people thought, “I’m better than so and so....I have a better car ...better house.....better job. Even sometimes we say "I’m a better Christian than so-and-so". By the way, you’re not the judge of that!
As I thought about this, I began to realize that there isn’t one thing that I can think of that I do, but that somebody I know does it better. A lot of preachers can play golf better than me....just about everyone I know is more organized than I am. Lots of people can sing and play music better. I can name a hundred guys who are better preachers, and on it goes. If excellence comes by comparison, by excelling among my peers than I might as well quit. Ordinary is probably about as good as I am going to get.
The more I thought about this, the more I have realized how much different God is than we are. The verse in Isaiah that tells us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.” speaks volumes to this. We – human beings – need to constantly compare. We feel good or bad about ourselves based on how we stack up against others. God, on the other hand, has only one standard. He values everything based on His excellence.
When we think of the story of Cain and Abel, we sometimes picture the scene like this;
Two men – brothers – Cain and Abel; Cain is a farmer, Abel is a rancher. Cain goes out to harvest his crops, as he does, he puts together an offering to God. Abel also puts together an offering to God. He picks out an animal and offers it to God. God looks at both offerings – Cain’s on the left, Abel’s on the right...after considering them both, He chooses Abel’s over Cain’s. It’s like God is saying – I’ll take the lamb chops over the brussel sprouts and spinach.”
Let’s slow down and look at it. First of all, we are never told that the offerings were made together. Each offering is made independently of the other. In verse 3, we are told that Cain brought an offering from the fruit of the ground. In verse 4, we are that Abel also made an offering – from the firstlings of his flock. Nowhere are we told that these offerings were made together – as if they are in competition. We are simply told that they each made an offering to God.