January 11, 2010 by Dwight Bernier
Have you ever read the story of Cain & Abel and wondered what went wrong? I’m not talking about Cain killing his brother, but just before that, when they brought their offerings to God. We see in Genesis 4 that God “had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry…” As a kid, I always wondered what the difference was. Whether or not someone explained it, I’m not sure, but I definitely missed it.
As I was reading through this passage the other day and was thinking about how we give our offerings and gifts to God, I realized what the difference was between Cain’s gift and Abel’s gift. Let me give you the context of our lives right now and that will help fill in where part of the understanding comes from.
My wife and I are raising support to be missionaries and church planters in Montreal right now. I am working a job that barely meets our bills. When I first started this job and saw what I would be making, there was a thought that was very convincing in my head that said we didn’t have to give because we didn’t have the money to give. If I was to give, I wouldn’t know where the money would come from to make up for what we were giving. The idea of trying to keep more in the “IN” than what goes “OUT” was not going to work if we were going to give. But God showed me that we had to give. Essentially, at this point, we give money that we don’t have – but yet we’ve never missed a bill, we have a regular date night, we have a baby coming soon that has all he will need, we get to have people over and feed them all the time – God has continued to provide though our budget doesn’t really make sense.
Ultimately, when we are giving, we are giving in dependence on God. We are trusting Him to show up and keep being faithful and meeting our needs. This is our calling in life right now. What I am not saying is that people need to give more money than they have. But I want to challenge us to see if we are giving in dependence on God to keep providing or if we are looking what we have in our overflow and just giving some off the top.
In looking at the difference between Cain and Abel, the Bible says Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. Abel brought an offering that proclaimed dependence on God because he brought the first of what was provided. In essence, it is saying that “I need you to show up. I am giving you what you gave me and in dependence on you, I trust that you are going to keep providing for my needs.” This type of gift shows a heart of true dependence on God. In Cain’s gift, he brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. Cain took from his abundance and brought something to give to God. It was like taking what was already there. His heart was one that was independent of God in his giving. He could just reach into the vast amounts that he had and bring something to give.
We know that God is not impressed with our gifts and He doesn’t even need them! Giving shows our hearts and what we trust in. Do we trust in our savings account or the load of fruits we have, or do we trust in the God who gave the money to us and the flocks we have. It is a heart issue. Do we give out of dependence on the God who did not spare His only Son? Or do we give independently of Him, throwing something back to Him in, thinking this will appease Him.
May our giving be in dependence on God and not independent of Him.