Genesis 4:1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.” 2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 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 is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
At first it was not obvious to me why God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s, but upon closer inspection the reason emerges. V.3-4 tells us that Cain brought an “offering” but Abel brought “of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions”. In other words, Abel gave the very best he had, but Cain did not. That obviously mattered to God. This has me asking myself if I give to God my very best – of my time, of my personal gifts/talents, of my material resources. I think sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no.
What keeps me from giving to God my best at times is my fear that by giving my best, or my first, I won’t have what I need. Initially this involved my financial resources. Particularly once Jana and I determined to give the full tithe (10% of our income) I had anxiety that our family would be left in a hole. It was a scary thing. I think many people have this anxiety when stretching to meet a giving goal. However our experience was that the Lord always found a way to provide what we needed. In fact, I would say our financial lives got better, not worse, when we grew in giving. It’s not logical, but that’s how the Kingdom of God works. Truly. If you doubt, you should try it.
The area that challenges me these days has more to do with time than money. Giving to God the first-fruits of my time is something that is always being challenged. Seems like I’m continually putting out fires of various kinds. It’s the tyranny of the urgent. Even this morning I’ve struggling to finish writing this. I let it get too late and the demands on me are in my face. That said, this is a key focus for me in 2020 – giving to God the first-fruits of my time each day and a Sabbath day each week.
Lord you know this is so hard for me. I stumble on this all the time. Give me grace to honor this commitment to you and to myself. I cannot do it on my own. Thank you in advance for your faithfulness in this and all things. Amen.