When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. (Genesis 4:3-4)
Why did God accept Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s? It is not that God likes meat more than vegetables! It has to do with the condition of their hearts as they made their offering. Cain gave some of the fruit of his labor – the fruit and vegetables from the land. It was good that he chose to give; it was good that he remembered the Lord and wanted to make an offering to Him. But it was not his best – he gave God “some”, or the leftovers, of his work. There was something wrong in his heart – he thought God only deserved something and not the best. God even warned him later to be careful – he would be accepted if he did what was right.
Abel gave his best – the first of his flock – and he was accepted. Abel understood – what many of us still need to understand – that God deserves our best. And here is where the story challenges us to take our faith to a new level – God did not accept anything less than the best – because He is worth our everything. This is not God stamping His foot like a spoiled child and demanding the best in the store. This is God not allowing a human heart to put selfishness on the throne. God is the highest good and glory in the universe – He deserves the best. When we put ourselves before Him, and hold our best back from Him – we have sinned. He does not accept less than our best.
Cain felt sad that his gift wasn’t accepted. So the Lord lovingly challenged him and told him to give his best. Instead, Cain killed his brother. He never showed any remorse for this murder. When he talked to God again he only asked for protection when he was sent away. This was a heart that chose sin over the love of God – he chose to make his own happiness the highest good in his life.
God deserves our best. God does not accept our “something” offerings. God can take small offerings – like fishes and loaves – and multiply them more than we could imagine. This does not mean we can give anything less than our best. If our best is a small offering, the Lord will use it and do great things – because we gave everything to the Highest Good in the universe. A poor woman gave two pennies – and it was the largest offering possible – because it was her best, her everything, and it showed a huge faith in the Lord. When we give our best and our everything we show with our actions that our hearts understand this simple and life changing truth.
Give your best – your absolute and total best to the Lord. Stop giving the Lord leftovers – in time, work, serving, finances, relationships, devotions. The leftovers belong to the dog. God will not accept them. Give God your best, no matter how big or crazy it may sound to others. Give God your best, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Give your best to your King who provides everything we have and gave His everything and died and rose for us. Give God nothing less than your best.