Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:1-7 ESV
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7b ESV
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4 ESV
“Do I have to?” Karen asked. She was invited to Sue’s birthday party, and her mom wanted her to buy Sue a gift. Karen didn’t want to buy a gift. She wanted to go to the party to be with her friends, but she really didn’t care about what would make Sue happy. Her mother helped her choose a nice gift for Sue, but Karen’s heart wasn’t in the gift. If Sue could have seen Karen’s heart, it would have made her birthday an unhappy one.
Cain and Abel each brought a gift to God. God could see into their hearts, and he could see pride and selfishness in Cain’s heart, but faith in Abel’s heart. Abel’s faith made his gift one that God would accept. Abel had faith in the promised Savior, who would take his sins away. Cain didn’t have this faith. That was the difference.
God wanted to help Cain and give him this faith. He warned Cain that the sin in his life would hurt him. But Cain would not listen. He wanted to do things his own way.
It’s a scary thought that God can look into our hearts and see our thoughts and feelings. He can see pride and selfishness and mean thoughts and anger. We deserve his punishment for these sins, even if they are only in our hearts. No matter how hard we try we can’t get rid of the sin in our hearts and lives. But we can trust the Savior God sent, Jesus, who died to forgive all our sins. God gives us the gift of faith, and we can be sure that all our sins are forgiven because of Jesus.
Dear Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for us and forgive us our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.