Q is for Questioning God (Cain and Able’s Offerings)
When I was young questioning authority was frowned upon. Nowadays people question everything, and teachers say there is no dumb question. What do you think about questioning God?
To my way of thinking He’s big enough and can take it. Examples in the Bible spring to mind such as Job who did not get the answer he might have wanted but certainly got a sufficient answer (Job 38-41). David wrote questions in his Psalms. The disciples questioned Jesus.
What about Cain and Able? They both brought offerings to God and “the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:4-5).
What? It seems pretty arbitrary, and it bothered me for a long time. Two people brought offerings and God didn’t accept one of them. Why?
The answers to all our questions are not always found in the Bible. In this case though one of the Christian financial books I read dug into the scripture for a reason that then made sense in terms of all the guidance we have on tithes and offerings in the Bible.
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.
Cain worked the fields and Abel worked the stock. What I read pointed out that Cain brought “an offering” where Able brought the “first” increase. Many of us approach God the same way as Cain, just bringing something perhaps whatever we have in our pocket at the moment. Abel brought not only what the Bible later calls “first fruits” but the “fat portions.” The fat was considered the best part, the king’s part. The fat carries the aroma of whatever is cooking. It’s part of the reason bacon smells so great as it fries.
Some commentary points to the difference of blood sacrifice versus something else, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Later in the Bible tithes of herbs are mentioned as appropriate (Matthew 23:23). Offerings of gold and silver were made. Not every offering had to be blood. But a lamb had to be without blemish (Exodus 12:5) and even Jesus and his sacrificed life is described as the perfect Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19).
The passage with Cain and Abel shows us that God has regard for offerings and the person offering them when the gift is the first and best.
Recently a friend asked me if our family tithes off the gross income or the net (i.e. after taxes). I told her the same thing a trusted friend told me when I asked them the same question.
Do you want God to bless the gross or the net?
I tend to think that if any money ever needed the hand of God’s blessing it is our tax money.
And what does God’s word say? Give Him the best and first. If the government is taking taxes first, which we cannot change, we can still show our highest honor and respect is for God by figuring our tithe from the gross.
This is my conviction, but maybe you are in a situation where 10% would take food from the mouths of your children. God meets us where we are and sees our hearts. Maybe you can only give $5 this time, but it is a place to start, and 10% can be the goal you reach for. Maybe you’ve given 10% for years, but the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about giving more, maybe a goal of 20%.
Ultimately we study God’s word, listen to His Spirit, and follow our individual hearts.