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” (Gen 4:3-4). Why did the Lord not have regard for Cain and his offering, but did regard Abel and his offering? Was it because Abel’s offering was better intrinsically than Cain’s? No. The Book of Hebrews tells us: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts” (Heb 11:4). The thing that distinguished Abel’s offering from that of Cain’s is faith. By faith, Abel offered a more acceptable offering.
Faith and giving are inseparable. They are two sides of the same coin. It is faith in the promises of God that leads us to give. By faith we trust that God will do what He says. By faith, we receive everything God gives as a gift from His divine mercy and goodness. For what do we have that we have not received (1 Cor. 4:7)? Nothing. Everything we have comes from the Lord. By faith we give to others because God has first given to us, and by faith we trust that He will continue to provide for us all that we need for this body and life. And when by faith we give, God accepts our offerings and commends us as righteous. For by faith we are accounted righteous before God on account of Christ. Giving is a spiritual issue.
But there is a flip side to this two-sided coin: Cain didn’t give an offering to God by faith. His offering did not come from faith but from someplace else. And since it didn’t originate with faith in God and His promises, it was not regarded by God. And he was not accounted righteous. This is a warning to us. Pay attention to your faith and your offerings, and from where they come.
From where do your offerings come? Like all good works, offerings acceptable in God’s sight flow from faith in Christ. They are given in response to the gifts God has given to us, especially the gift of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. And since they are given by faith, they will be the target of Satan’s attacks to ruin the church, do damage to the gospel of Christ, and to weaken your faith in Him. For sin is crouching at our doors, and the temptation to sin in giving is great because of the fallen world and our sinful flesh. But Jesus is greater than our hearts. Jesus has overcome the world. And by faith, so have we. By faith, we rule over them.