Cain thought that if he gave the offering of the ground that pleased him, God would also be pleased. But God did not accept Cain, nor his offering. Like Cain, we try to become people who are good at everything and depend on our good image when we come before God. True spiritual life is to acknowledge our misdeeds and flaws, to be led by the Holy Spirit and thus, serve God.
Cain & Abel
If you look in Genesis chapter 4, Adam and Eve bore a son and rejoiced, saying, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” and named him “Cain.” This means “received.” Not long after that, Adam and Eve bore their second son and named him “Abel.” Abel means “vain.” Why did Adam and Eve name their second child, “vain”? Later as they grew, Cain did the toilful work of farming while Abel looked over the sheep. Abel must have been weak and did not have the strength to farm.
The Offering of Cain & Abel
Time passed and Cain and Abel became adults. Cain worked hard and gave the offering of the fruits of the ground; in other words, he gave his crop as his offering to God. Abel also wanted to give an offering. Abel did not have any crop that he grew, but brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. Cain said to Abel.
“Abel, why are you catching a sheep? It’s gross. I’ll give you some corn. Give this as an offering.”
“Brother, I want to give an offering of sheep and its fat.”
“Ah, that is disgusting and not good to see.”
Cain thought, “This is an offering that I prepared with my hard work, so God will be pleased,” and gave his offering of the fruit of the ground to God.
The Offering That God Does Not Accept
But God was happy with Abel and his offering and rather did not accept Cain and his offering. Seeing this, Cain became so furious and did not know what to do. Cain thought that if he gave the offering of his appetizing fruit and golden grain in which he delighted, God would also be happy to accept them.
If you look in Genesis chapter 2, God formed man from the dust of the ground. This is why the Bible expresses the fruit of men as being from dust and the ground. The “fruit of the ground” means the effort and sincerity of men. God is saying that He will not accept this.
Today, like Cain, many people consider the works that they have done according to their thoughts and resolve as good works, and feel smug. When Cain earnestly gave his offering of the fruit of the ground, it would have looked so beautiful and holy to him. But as God did not accept Cain’s offering, he became furious and even slew his brother, Abel. Through Cain’s murder of Abel, God was saying “You were giving me an offering with a heart like this?” God revealed what was hidden in Cain’s heart—the jealousy and the evilness to kill his own brother.
God Who Sees Our Heart
There is no one among men who has the same heart with God. Outwardly there might be kindness and sincerity but if you see through their heart, there are hatred, deceit, adulterous and arrogant hearts. If they do one good thing, they think themselves to be sincere and kind, and believe that God will accept their offering. But when God sees us, He does not see the image that we put on outwardly, but also sees our filthy and evil inward heart and does not accept our offering.
At first Cain came before God with a good and loyal heart. But through the act of killing his brother, Abel, God revealed his evil heart. Eventually he had to say, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” God bestowed grace upon Cain and gave him a mark of salvation that would prevent him from being killed.
We Must First Know the Heart of God
Even though we go to church, we oftentimes serve God in a vague way. Those who truly serve God, sincerely seek after the heart of God, like Abel. “My heart is this evil and filthy. Even though God loves me, He will not be pleased if I live with this evil heart. If I live with this heart I will be cursed.” They discover the fact that their heart is not the same with God’s heart.
God says we should forsake all of our thoughts that seem sincere. This is because those who think they are right and can do well cannot see the heart of God. Those who discover how evil and filthy they are—“The offering I give before God is the same as Cain’s offering. I am deceitful and evil”—are able to see that God is pleased with those who depend on and come with the “blood and fat of Jesus, the Lamb,” that is, the “righteousness” and “Holy Spirit” of Jesus.
Like Cain, aren’t you living your life following your own thoughts? We are deceived by Satan and try to become like Cain who is good at everything and not like Abel who is lacking. Those who have seen their misdeeds and flaws, are able to think, “I can’t live with my heart. I need the heart of God,” and are led by the Holy Spirit and live a life serving God.
(Pastor Ock Soo Park’s Sermon for Children)