Genesis 4:3-8 Being Responsible with Our Offerings
I want to challenge you to think about how responsible we need to be with our offerings. The Bible speaks of an offering as an act of worship. An offering is something that is given by the worship to express love to God. The Bible describes it in a variety of ways.
We can give of our POSSESSIONS: What we have
We can give of our PRAISE: What we say
We can give of our PERFORMANCE: How we act
In each of these cases, we need to be responsible. The lesson we learn from Cain and Abel, and specifically from Cain is that God want us to give to Him our first and our best. Cain is the negative example and Abel is the positive example:
Cain tells us what we CAN’T do; Abel tells us what we are ABLE to do.
The first example we learn from Cain is that he gave the wrong possession. It was not what he gave that was wrong, but that it was not the first. God says that Abel gave the first, and that Abel did not withhold from God what he could give. Cain hid from God what he should have given. So, we need to give what we have.
The second example is that Cain did not give praise. In fact, he complained. Instead of saying praises to God, he grumbled about the offering of his brother.
The third example is that Cain did not follow his worship in action. As we see later in the story, his performance in worship turned to sin. Cain should have loved his brother. This love should have come from an outpouring of worship to God. Instead, Cain hated his brother. He even killed him.
So, we must learn from both the bad and the good example how to be responsible with our offering.
The Bible speaks in two places about this act of worship. Let us examine from these two Scriptures
SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF A RESPONSIBLE OFFERING
1. God wants me to give my FIRST.
Abel gives of the “firstborn of the flock.” He gives the first of what he owns. The same is not said for Cain. Now this is before the Law was written, but clearly God had taught this. Abraham gave to the King of Salem (a priest of God) a tenth of what he earned in a war.
“And he gave a tithe (1/10, or ten percent) of all.”
In Numbers 18, we have a description of how an offering was given with animals. It says:
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
Translate this into money and it comes out like this: When you get paid, you should give ten percent of your money to God first. Not at the end of the month, not after your bills have been paid. You need to give it first.
God wants you to give of your first. But God wants more from us:
2. God wants me to give my BEST.
“All the best of the oils, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to the Lord…”
Now, in this situation, you see that the Bible gives makes it clear that the best of everything is given to God. He uses it here for the purpose of feeding His priests. But here is what I want you to understand. You give not just your first, but your best. For example:
Suppose I have ten cows. I have 9 healthy cows and 1 sick cow. Which one should I give? I should give one of my healthy cows.
Now, let me give you another illustration:
Pull out your wallet. How much money do you have in your wallet? Look it up. Count the money. Now, which bill do you think you should give to God? Is it the small coins or the biggest bill? Pull out your biggest bill? Is it a $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, or $200?
Now, how do you feel about this? Are you scared to give this much in the offering plate? Do you wonder what will happen if I give this bill? Do you think about how you will pay all your expenses for this week, if you gave this to God? I know that January is a big-expense paying month. Many things were bought for back to school and the bills come now. How anxious do you feel?
This is pretty much how it felt to the farmers and the ranchers when they gave their best cow, or sheep, or fruit. It directly affected their income. They always had to consider what would happen. Will there be a drought? What if I don’t have enough cows to pay my expenses – my rent, my car loan, my insurance, my food?
God wants you to give of your best. But when you give of your best, it will take faith.
3. God wants me to give in an act of FAITH.
If you think about the illustration I just gave you, you realize that in order to give an offering, it will take faith. The fact that you are questioning what will happen in the future if I give today implies that you are exploring faith. God says in His word that having faith pleases God. So, if you are asking yourself: “How can I pay the bills when I give what I know I need to God?” – and you then say “Well, I do not know how God will answer my needs, but I will trust that He will provide.” Be assured that God loves it when you are in this situation and He will answer.
Here is a quote I read this week:
“It must be admitted the faith of the offerer is essential to the acceptableness of the offering, even though other things were equal. The major difference that the Bible clearly says about the offering of Cain and Abel is that Abel had faith. Giving must be an offering of faith.”
Here is another challenge for you today:
Make you automatic bank transfer your ten percent. It is possible these days to make a payment by Paypal. It would help the church because an automatic bank draft would be a consistent way of helping to pay the bills. Can the automatic bank transfer become just another automatic transaction for you? Can it become another bill that you may or may not pay? Then think about this:
My challenge is for you to give your first and your best in faith. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God.
But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him.
Hebrews 11:6 (CEV)
This is one of the reasons that Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted. To be pleasing to God when you give, you must give in faith.
When does your check clear the bank? Is it at the end of the month after all the bills are paid? Is it after you are paid and it becomes the first bill you have paid? Is it automatic or do you write it every month? I want you to think about this folks.
This leads me to my next point:
You need to give your first, your best in faith because it is also an act of worship.
4. God wants me to give in an act of WORSHIP.
Sometimes we do not give our best and our first in faith and this interferes with our worship. Giving financially is an act of worship. We need to see giving in this light.
Worship in the Garden of Eden consisted of God asking questions and Adam and Eve answering questions. In Genesis 4:26. we see for the first time that men came to worship the Lord. So what were Cain and Abel doing? What was the purpose of the sacrifice?
Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. It was then that people began using the LORD’s holy name in worship.
Genesis 4:26 (GNB)
It is clear that God begins to be addressed in a much more personal way in the time of Seth as opposed to the time of Adam. During the time of Cain and Abel, the depth of worship was more than just asking God. Cain and Abel were giving to God. By the time of Seth, we begin to see worship become more public, and not just personal.
Giving back to God financially tells God: “I love you. I love you so much that I know that you gave me all I have. I want to show my love to you by giving something back to you financially.”
Now we can give back to God in worship other things. We can give our possessions, our praise, and our performance. But giving financially is something we do to express our love to God.
We need to give our first, our best in faith and as an act of worship.
5. God wants me to give CHEERFULLY.
There are three temptations when we decide to give financially in our worship to God.
- We get angry at God
- We get jealous of others
- We act on our anger and bitterness
These are three temptations that we say with Cain. He became angry with God because God did not accept His offering with favor. Of course the reason God did not accept it is because Cain did not give his first, his best in faith and in worship. As a result, God was not pleased. Cain became angry.
Then Cain turns to his brother Abel, and complains that Abel gave a sacrifice and God accepted his. It even says that Cain’s face was “downcast.” That means he showed the emotion of anger.
Jesus said that we cannot worship God and money at the same time. He said you will love one and hate the other. If you love money, and you are not willing to give to God your first, your best money, and in faith, you will get angry.
Jesus talked about money more than anything else because he knew where our hearts are. He knows that when we think about our money as ours, and not God’s we have a hard time giving it to God.
“For the love of money is the source of all kinds of evil…” 1 Timothy 6:10 (GNB)
The love of money is not the source of all evil. It just leads to all kinds of problems. The problems came for Cain as well. He got angry, and then vented his anger verbally to God, and then physically against his brother Abel.
Being so concerned about our money and how we give it to God affects our relationships with other people.
We can be a happy giver or a grumbling giver. What do you think God wants?
We need to learn to give our first, our best, in faith as an act of cheerful worship.
6. God wants me to give FREELY.
When we give our money to God in faith, when we give our first money, our best money, and we do in act of happy worship, we will want to give it freely.
Giving should not come out of a sense of guilt. It should come out of a sense of joy. We should feel happy to give back to God. As a result, we should give freely.
What happens when we give responsibly? God honors what we give Him. Jesus said it this way: “If you cannot be responsible with earthly riches, how can God show you real riches.”
“If, then, you have not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can you be trusted with true wealth?”
Luke 16:11 (GNB)
Responsibility with our offerings is another step on our journey with God. God wants us to give our first, our best, in faith as a free act of cheerful worship. Give to God today. Make it a plan this year to think about giving to God more than just a ritual, but out of a relationship. God will reward you for that. Trust Him and give today.