Heroes: Abel

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did.  By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.  And by faith he still speaks, even through he is dead. 
Does God really compare and contrast offerings that we bring him with the offerings of others?  The answer is, “Yes, he does.”  Jesus did it with the widow’s mite in Luke 21:14, and now the writer of the Hebrews does it regarding the offering of Abel verses his brother Cain’s offering. 

In fact, the original word used in the Greek language, was “Greater” not “Better.”  So, it would literally read, “By faith, Abel offered God a ‘GREATER’ sacrifice than Cain did.  But without getting into the minds of the translator’s who chose to use the word “Better” rather than “Greater,” I suspect they translated it such for the simple fact that “Greater” can imply in our English language, a certain amount rather than the quality of something.   For instance, we might say, “One thousand dollars is greater than two hundred dollars,” and that’s not necessarily what God’s Word has in mind in Hebrews 11:4 when talking about Abel’s offering being “greater” than Cain’s. 

It happens to be true that Abel’s offering appears far greater in monetary value than his brother Cain’s offering as Able brought “fat portions” to God of his flock, while Cain, we are told, brought “some of the fruits” of the soil as an offering (Genesis 4:3,4).  However, our God is less concerned about the amount in this instance and is clearly concerned about the heart.

You see, true sacrifices to God, come out of a broken heart, according to King David.  David wrote in the Psalms, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).  Able, as with all of God’s children, have broken hearts as a result of our sin.  Sin doesn’t just break our heart, it also breaks God’s heart.  Abel knew presumably from his parents, Adam and Eve, that sin originated with his parents and was passed down to his heart already at conception.  But God promised his parents deliverance from that sin through the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), whom we all know to be the Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Abel, like mom and dad, believed in that future deliverance, which is why the Bible states, “By faith” Abel was commended as a righteous man.  He believed that that promise seed of the woman would one day come into the world and deliver him from his sins and supply him with the righteousness that only God can give us through his Son, Jesus Christ.  That was the impetus for Abel’s “fat portions” he brought to God.  It was for no other reason than he knew by faith that he was delivered from his sin. 

Guess what?  The Bible says, “Abel still speaks, even though he’s dead.”  His example lives on through all of God’s children today.  Why do we set aside “fat portion” of our money in keeping with our income?  Because we have a school to build?  Because pastors are asking us to give fat portions?  Because the church is notorious for asking for money?  Because there’s more of a reason now to give fat portions than 10 year’s ago?  I hope the answer is “No” to all these rhetorical questions.  We give because God first gave to us.  “For God so loved the world that he ‘Gave’ his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Cain wasn’t giving because God gave to him.  Cain was giving out of a heart filled with unbelief so who cares what Cain’s motive for giving were!  They weren’t done out of faith and therefore, God rejected them.  But God didn’t reject his brother Abel’s offering.  And he doesn’t reject ours, either, so long as they are given from a heart of faith that believes in the deliverance our God has provided us through the blood of Jesus Christ.  No compulsion; no guilt; no coercion.  Love for Christ and his sacrifice for you shall always be the motive of sacrificial gifts of thanksgiving to our God.