The reading for today was Genesis 1-16.
My focus scripture for today is Genesis 4:2b-7
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
I'd like to look at this scripture in a broad context today, not just giving or tithing, where it usually is referenced. In my childhood, I would read this scripture and not understand God's preference for Abel's offering. I mean, both men brought Him an offering, so what was the difference? Was it because Abel brought animals but Cain brought produce??? Obviously not! (Oh, that someone would have explained this to me in my youth!)
The difference between the two offerings is the HEART of the offerer! Abel brought the best of the firstborn of his flock, while Cain just brought some. Abel brought his offering with an understanding that ALL that he had was given to him by God, while Cain dutifully fulfilled his obligation, offering God some of what he had, probably deceiving himself into thinking that he had done the work, he had planted and grown and harvested the produce, perhaps he was doing God a favor!
In parenting my children, I often find the lessons I teach them about God speak to me just as much, if not more, as to them. I see these same heart conditions played out in my children regularly- the loving obedience of Abel, and the disdaining, despising, disobedience of Cain. It is the difference between the child who joyfully and expectantly comes when called, and the child who rudely retorts, "What, Mom?" without even pausing a second from the engrossing activity that occupies her. It is the difference between the kind, helpful child who assists others without prompting, and the self-centered, selfish child who petulantly pouts while begrudgingly producing the toy they have been asked, and then commanded, to share. It is the difference between the sweet, tender moments that warm the parents' hearts- like earlier today when Grace and Ella snuggled together while watching a movie, with Ella actually in Grace's lap- and the wretched, aggravating, annoying, heart-wrenching moments that bring parents to their knees, asking for God's help and wisdom in parenting their beloved, albeit disobedient, blessings.
And don't we all have Cain's heart at times???
Don't we do just enough, barely meeting the "requirements"*, thinking that will be good enough? Don't we all deceive ourselves into thinking that perhaps we had everything to do with our wealth, prosperity, health, happiness, etc? Don't we think we deserve everything we have, without considering that everything we have is a blessing and provision from God? Don't we serve God, our loving Creator and Provider, with an attitude of self-righteousness, defiance, or even indignation, rather than with gratitude, humility, and reverence?
*there are no "requirements" that will save us from our sin, except our faith and acceptance of Christ's gift of salvation. (Eph. 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9Not by works, lest any man should boast.")
Personally, I find myself forgetting to honor God with my attitude and neglecting to glorify Him with my deeds, especially in the sameness of our day-to-day schedule. I do my work unto myself, rather than seeking first the kingdom of God. And, I struggle to solve problems and battles myself instead of prayerfully considering God's plan in those trials, as if I might have a better plan than God!
Thankfully, we have a God who knows our humanity, our sinful nature and tendencies, and addresses this from the beginning! Just as He confronted Cain, He calls us to serve Him joyfully, with an attitude of love and appreciation, rather than just walking through the motions. God requires us to honor Him with our best- in actions, deeds, and heart attitude!
My prayer for today is to seek God's will for my life with a joyful attitude, honoring Him with my actions and thoughts, rejecting the sin "crouching at [my] door".