In Genesis 4, two men offer a sacrifice to God. Abel is respected for his offering, Cain is not. Was God against vegetables, the offering brought by Cain? Shouldn’t just bringing a sacrifice be sufficient?

What is the deeper meaning here?

If you do well, will you not be accepted?

And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. GEN. 4:7

Giving God Our Best

Abel gave God the “firstborn of his flock.” He gave God his very best.

Cain, on the other hand, gave a sacrifice that wasn’t respected by God. Perhaps it was rotten or puny produce.

Did Cain keep the best for himself?

The issue here is the matter of the heart. I have some hard questions for you today.

  1. Are you doing your best?
  2. Are you being your best?... Really?
  3. Are you the best worker in your office, factory or labor pool?
  4. Are you the best parent you can be?
  5. Are you the best son or daughter you can be?
  6. Are you the best student, the best teacher, the best singer, the best writer you can be?
  7. Are you the best worshipper you can be?
  8. Are you the best giver?
  9. The best shopper? (That doesn’t mean if you love to shop the best, it means can you get the best bargain for your money)?!

Why ask these questions?

Some people might actually be offended by them. After all, they ask, who’s watching? Who’s counting? It’s not anyone else’s concern how I do. Well, it really is all of our concern.

If no one does their best, then the whole community, the whole family, the whole church is dramatically affected. The phrase “doing your best” has become so cliché, that it hardly means anything anymore. Our educational system now rewards mediocrity and non-achievement so much that that exactly what society has produced.

Our best is called our best even when it is little more than our worst.

We’ve labeled our nothings as somethings until we have managed to fool ourselves into thinking it is true. Study after study shows that American students are falling farther behind in the math and science fields than students in other countries. China, Japan and even small countries like Finland and Estonia do much better than we do.

Doing our best has come to mean just getting by. Our minimums have become our maximums. We have lowered our standards to make them more attainable for us, not understanding that others are keeping their standards high—or even setting them higher—and reaching them. This is not to disparage American young people, but it does suggest that there is a systemic failure in either their education or their motivation.

All of us have something at stake here.

Why, because the strangest and most ironic thing is that while we accept the lower standards for ourselves, we demand higher standards in others.

  1. When it comes to medical doctors, we want the best.
  2. When it comes to airplane pilots, we want the best.
  3. When it comes to financial advisors and building contractors, we want the best.

It is important to understand that God has a judgment system in place. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (KJV)

When we give God our “leftovers” what are we really conveying our priorities are? Do we view God or ourselves as number 1?

Are we just trying to follow a check list of things that look “good enough” to the outside eye? For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. - HOSEA 6:6

God is All Knowing, We can’t fool God. He knows what we are capable of, and where our loyalties lie. He is all knowing. No matter how much we try to forget this detail. Sometimes we feel so tricky; we look so spiritual to everyone, and we still aren’t giving God our all. But God knows.

Who is Number 1?

By giving God our “leftovers”, we are implying that we put ourselves on a higher rank than God. That God deserves whatever we can’t use for anybody, or anything else?

It is hard to say, but some people treat God like the Salvation Army is to many people. After we can’t sell or give away our used merchandise then we truck it to the Salvation Army. God really shouldn’t be the after thought, but rather we should give Him our best time, money and talents. What can we give to offer respect and thanks to God? No one is above his teacher. - LUKE 6:40

Do you give God tithe after you have paid everyone else and bought everything you want, or do you set aside a portion off of the top?

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. - PROVERBS 3:9-10

Do you have a devotional time set aside or do you only spend time with God if you need something, or have leftover time in the day?

This idea isn’t to be legalistic. This concept is to prepare your heart to respect the person you are talking to.

If you are distracted or only talk to God when it is convenient, what is this conveying about our heart towards God? But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - MATTHEW 6:6

Do you use your talents to bring glory to God, by helping others, or do you only use your talents if you can get paid or a return favor?

More blessed to give than to receive. - ACTS 20:35

Knowing in our minds that God is number 1, but really acting as though He is our leftover mash potatoes is really only leaving us with this false facade that our priorities are correct. We need to start putting God as number 1 and truly receive the blessings of trusting God with our lives.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound (i.e., excel) still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (NET)

2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. (NET)

1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound (excel) in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 3:13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. (NASB)

1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it (love) toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more (NASB)

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (NET)

Matthew 23:37-38 Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.