Read Genesis 4:1-26
When Cain killed Abel in Genesis 4, the story was captured for all of history to see the depressed spirit of Cain’s behavior as he responded in comparison to his brother starting with their offerings to God. The comparison struggle is real for many people, and I once heard Pastor Nick say (when talking about social media), that “comparison is the thief of joy”. The human element of the tension felt from comparison can lead to dark places and, unfortunately for Cain, one could say that his defining moment was when he killed his brother. However, I think it is something different that can be described as “prominence vs. significance” (something I once heard a guy named Doug say).
He described it like this: Prominence does not equal significance, but, for many people, they think it does. Discovering what is significant for God is often confused by our desire to do something for Him that is prominent. This can be especially damaging, if we fall for this trap, when we consider our relationship with God.
When you consider Genesis 4, Cain’s offering to God is indeed significant. For starters, Cain gave an offering to God (4:3), and it can be inferred that what he brought was part of the “first” from his crop (4:4). That fact alone bears much significance in that, for followers of God, to give is to sacrifice, and to give from the “first fruits” (Prov 3:9) is honoring to God. However, as the Bible describes, God had “no regard” (4:4 NASV) for Cain’s offering in comparison to the kind of offering that Abel brought forth. Was Abel’s offering more pleasing to God due to the cost of meat instead of the cost of vegetables? One could think, “Hey, lamb chops are more expensive than carrots so I can see why God is unimpressed by Cain’s offering.” We see what is prominent, the monetary value.
However, the significance is a matter of the heart.
To better understand this idea, don’t miss the “and” in Gen 4:5:
“Abel, on his part, also brought the firstlings of his flock and their fat portions”.
Abel’s offering was an offering of significance that was pleasing to God as it reflected the heart (indicated by bringing the extra fat as an offering too). It reminds me of when Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees (Mat 9:13) and tells them, “Go and learn the meaning of this, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ (NIV).
A defining moment for me personally, was when I discovered God’s desire for my significance to be deeply connected as the result of His work in my heart. It was only then, when I began to realize that what I bring to Him (whether offering, worship, or work) is not valued by the prominence measured by people, but by significance defined by Him.
What about you? What does your struggle with comparison look like? In what way do you need to zero into the work God is doing in your life and allow that to be enough?
What do you need to release to Him in this moment?