Wednesday, August 12th

Wednesday, August 12th

But he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. Genesis 4:5

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalms 37:4

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Let's create an imaginary version of the "Cain and Abel" story from Genesis that is based on our "rock" analogy from yesterday. As you read it, pretend that you haven't read the "rock" analogy yet. Here goes: "It was time for Cain and Abel to come before the Lord for worship. Cain brought the rock he had selected from the field of rocks as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought the rock he had selected from the field of rocks as a gift to the Lord.The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected."

If we hadn't read the "rock" analogy we would be perplexed about the outcome of Cain and Abel's worship experience. But we have read it, so let's create a little more detail as we use the "rock" analogy with Cain and Abel. Cain went into the field of rocks and walked for hours and hours. He had begun at 8 am and it was already 5 pm. He had found several rocks along the way that would have been great selections, but he just couldn't make a decision. He kept thinking that somewhere in the field was the perfect rock. Cain decided to walk to the very center of the field where he could easily see into all four quadrants. Not far into the top right quadrant Cain saw a beautiful rock. Cain said to himself, "I gotta have that rock." Cain dropped the two rocks he had been carrying and went into the top right quadrant. The rock was even more beautiful than he had thought and it he was extremely delighted with it. Cain's rock took two hands to carry back. It was a beautiful blue-green rock and very, very smooth.

Let's get back to Genesis. The Lord did not accept Cain and his gift because he chose to do things his way and not God's way. There was nothing wrong with Cain being a farmer. There was nothing wrong with his crops. It's just that his crop gift was not a part of God's worship plan that God had evidently communicated to both of them previously. Our passage from Psalms helps us understand that our primary focus in life must be God. When we delight in the Lord and his ways, he transforms us so that the desires of his heart become the desires of our heart.

It would seem that the primary focus in life for Abel was God. He delighted in God and he delighted in his ways. The desires of his heart were all strongly connected into his being one who delighted in God and his ways. Cain, however, was more focused of the desires of his heart than he was in delighting in God and his ways. Like Cain, if our primary focus is not God, we are at risk for having the desires of our heart move beyond God and his ways. Cain delighted more in the fruit of his labors than he did in God and his ways.

In an ironic twist, Cain comes to worship (an act of devotion and surrender) God in his own way. Cain wants what he wants to be what God wants. So great is Cain's expectation that God will accept him and his gift, that he is blown away with anger and dejection when he and his gift are not accepted. God is not in the business of conforming his will to our will. We can so strongly desire to go in a certain direction (door) with our lives that we equate the strength of that desire with God's will. Like Cain, we want what we want to be what God wants. When we do this, we are deceived and are not being ones who delight in God in his ways. In the words of our Romans passage our greatest need is that of our becoming "a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable."

Lord, deliver me from worldly thinking and behavior. Transform me into a new person and change the way I think and act. Lord, I give myself to you, a living and holy sacrifice. I know this is your will for my life and that it is good and pleasing and perfect. Amen!

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