3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering. Gen. 4:3-4
For the first time (I think) God and I are in total agreement. Even I am amazed at the ease with how my heart meshes with God’s on this one.
The Bible says, “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering”.
And my heart goes, “Yeah, why shouldn’t He?”
The Bible says that this man, Abel, brought an offering to God of “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.”
Notice the Bible does not say, “Abel offered the head and hooves and tails of his thinnest cows to the Lord.”
No. Instead, the Bible says, this man took the first-born of his flocks and offered them before the Lord. In other words, he gave to the Lord the firstfruits of his labor. He also offered to the Lord “of the fat thereof.” Just to make things super clear: the word “fat” here is referring to the fact that Abel chose the fattest parts of his animals (anyone who loves meat knows these are the juiciest), and offered these to the Lord. In other words, Abel gave to God his very best.
Can anyone tell me why God would not have respect unto such a person?
What is the significance of this scripture, anyway?
The Bible can only talk about the heart. Scripture here is trying to tell us that Abel loved the Lord with all his heart.
Now, I know that when it comes to giving there are churches which teach (and sometimes coerce) people to bring into church the firstfruits of their produce, the tithe and many other miscellaneous offerings that they are found in the Old Testament. But the Bible does not talk about fulfilling the letter of the law. Under the New Covenant, there is only one ‘requirement’: God desires that we have a heart relationship with Him.
The reason we are so short of God’s “respect” – which translates into being short of the grace of God – is because we give Him our second best, third best, and onwards. The No.1 slot in our hearts is firmly reserved for the flesh. There are things our hearts just won’t give up even if we were burnt at the stake! Things like grudges, anger, unforgiveness, etc.
On the outside it might appear as if we are giving the Lord our all. We could be “busy” doing the Lord’s work, and we could even be in the news with our ‘powerful’ ministries. But God looks upon the heart. With God we can only be truly “busy” when we are giving Him the things of our hearts – which translates to taking up our cross and following Christ.
We can therefore conclude that Abel gave to the Lord his very best by dying to self, taking up his cross and following Christ.
Finally, let us see what God does when we give him our hearts unreservedly. I am sure that when the Bible says that God had “respect” unto Abel’s offering, it is not saying that God now started blessing Abel in material things, good health, and everything we have been taught under the charismatic gospel God gives to those who love Him. Sure, the Lord does sometimes bless us with the things of this world; but God’s Kingdom is not the New York Stock Exchange. There are times that we will lack these things.
But the Bible is a spiritual Book and when it says,
“And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering”
it is talking about how God blessed Abel with the riches of His grace. It is talking about spiritual blessings – things that can only reside in a man’s heart. When we give the Lord our hearts unreservedly, He deposits His grace into our hearts. The Apostle Paul says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
When the grace of God comes into our hearts, there are things that it produces in our lives. Things like “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Loving the Lord was the No. 1 lesson that God taught the Israelites:
“29 … Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mk. 12:29-30).
If we give God the best that we have to offer – which can only be our lives – He in turn will have “respect” unto our offering. He will take our rotten lives and give us His grace. A beautiful exchange.
I, the writer of this blog, am a person who has not arrived at the place where Abel was. My prayer and desire is that I arrive there. Abel was indeed a great man before the Lord.
[Below: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”]