Our second stop in the Hall of Faith leads us into the middle of a family squabble. It was sibling rivalry at its finest — the story of Cain and his brother Abel.
Both brothers offered thanksgiving to God. In fact, it’s difficult to read the story and not wonder at the difference between the two offerings. Shouldn’t God have been pleased with the sacrifices in and of themselves? Why was God so hard on Cain? Furthermore, the sacrificial system had not even yet been instituted. So how was Cain to know how and what to offer? How was he to know that his sacrifice would be less than?
Two words give us a clue. “By faith”. It was “by faith” that Abel’s sacrifice was offered. Apparently, his eyes of faith made all the difference.
We know from Genesis 4 that “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil . . . But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” There’s a difference between some of the fruits, and fat portions from some of the firstborn. That difference: sacrifice made by faith.
It wasn’t the gift itself, whether produce or fresh meat. Nor was it the act of the sacrifice, presenting God with some piece of what was theirs. The difference between Cain’s sacrifice and Able’s was the faith behind it.
Clearly, Abel trusted God in such a way that he was eager to give the best portions from the first of his flock. His eyes of faith led him down the road of righteousness and gained him commendation and favor in the eyes of God. Cain, on the other hand, lacked that faith. Perhaps we could describe his sacrifice as having been given out of compulsion rather than by faith.
I could wake up in the morning and go through my day knowing I should spend time alone with God and then squeeze it in as I wait in the after-school pick-up line. Or I could plan my day with that in mind, and offer every moment of it to Him then give him my most alert time, my best attention.
Although either might be nice, only one is by faith. My best. Faith eyes see God as worthy of my best.
It’s a heart difference. A faith difference.
In God’s eyes, it’s all the difference that matters.