@@The first homicide of the Bible was bred out of self-righteousness and the infuriating grace of God.@@ It's a story about two brothers - Cain and Abel. They are two brothers with two different jobs who bring two different offerings to God. Despite coming from the same family and have similar upbringings, their offerings yield them very different results.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” - Genesis 4:1-9
What happened here? What prompts Cain to lose it against his brother? And what's the deal with his offering that God doesn't accept it?
The Worship Life of Cain and Abel
Imagine it this way. Cain and Abel worship in the same congregation. They have the same friends, they sing all the same songs, and they give the same amount of money. They even both go on the same mission trips together. They are both worshippers with an unbelievable amount of faith.
They just don't have their faith in the same place.
Cain does all the same things and says all the same words but he trusts in something different. Cain worships, but his worship is different. Cain absolutely has faith, it's just in his own offering. Cain shows up to church with something to offer to God. He offers his own goodness and faithfulness in order that God might be pleased with him. He brings his own fruit with his faith in that fruit. He comes with his hands full in hopes that God will see how much he has and will look at him favorably.
And so when God's not happy with his offering, he's pissed.
What was wrong with what he had to offer? What did Abel have that he did not?
Abel's different not because of what he offered but because of what he didn't offer. Abel doesn't believe God owes him anything. Abel's faith isn't in what he brings to God, but in what God has given to him. Abel's offering is a better offering, it's simply an offering brought in faith (Hebrews 11:4). Abel shows up to church with nothing to offer God but his own sin. He doesn't show up with anything in his hands and God responds with unmerited favor.
And this pisses off Cain.
And it makes sense. If you think you deserve God's favor and he gives it to someone else, that's infuriating. If you're Cain and you show up to church that day, you're not okay with what the preacher offered to Abel. Cain believes the good news was meant for him and his goodness.
The theologian Michael Horton said it this way when he wrote, “The doctrine of grace and the theology of the cross will always result in the wounded getting healed and the self-righteous getting angry.”
When you and I believe that it is up to us to earn God’s favor, we will get angered by the scandalous lengths that God will go to forgive. @@God's grace always angers the self-righteous.@@ But when we believe we've got nothing, we like Abel will show up in faith and find the one who looks at our offering with favor. @@God's grace always heals the wounded.@@