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Examine Scripture

Hebrews 11:4

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Cain and Abel…

The author of Hebrews sheds light on the difference between Cain and Abel: faith. This story brings us back to the beginning of history itself as we explore the lives of these two brothers:

By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks.  -Hebrews 11:4 NAB

In Genesis 4:1-16, we read about the story of Cain and Abel, the first two sons of Adam and Eve.  Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd.  Each one offered sacrifices to God from the fruit of their labors.  Cain offered some of the crops he had grown, and Abel offered some of his flock.

Genesis 4:4-5 tells us that God was pleased with Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.  Why?  The story does not give much detail on that, but the author of Hebrews tells us in today’s verse that faith was the missing ingredient in Cain’s sacrifice.

Cain is so upset by the situation that he led his little brother out into the field and killed him.  Cain’s jealousy drove him to murder.  They are the children of Adam and Eve, so it does not take long for mankind to show the depths of our sinful ways.

What’s the moral of the story?  First, like Abel, we need to offer our best to God.  Abel offered his best sacrifices to the Lord out of faith, and God was pleased.  If we want to please God, we need to show Him the depth of our faith and give Him our very best, as well.

Second, Cain shows the other side of this coin.  When God smiles on us, others will become jealous.  This is extremely evident in modern society.  How often do others look on us with jealousy because of God’s favor on us? They often let that jealousy lead them to persecuting Christians for their faith – a tale as old as Cain and Abel.

The story of Cain and Abel teaches us that our sacrifices to God mean little without faith, and when we show our faith, others may attack us for it.  Let’s continue to give God our very best regardless of what harm may come our way.

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