Lord God, you who have prepared for those who love you such good things that surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which are greater than we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Holy Scripture says:
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the first-born of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Genesis 4 : 2b - 7
Divine and Human Searching Of The Heart
Two brothers perform an act of homage before the Lord. One performance of reverential gratitude is accepted, that of Abel, and the other is rejected. Both offerings were acceptable to God as the history of Israel records and the use of biblical linguistics proves. Abel brought the pick of his flock to the Lord and Cain offered the fruits of the earth. Abel is identified as a man of faith (Hebrews 11:4). Cain is shown to be a fraud before God as a man evil of heart. The narrative reveals that God assesses the worth of sacrifice not according to appearance but to sincerity of a believing and humble heart.
The Lord weighs the hearts of the two brothers in discomforting comparison: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
As a person Abel knows that the way of salvation, comprehensively of acceptance with God and personal sanctification, is through humble trust, as a sinner reliant upon grace alone. Cain comes before the Lord casually as an unrepentant and evil man who is in the process of being dominated by sin with no desire to master it. It festers and flames within his heart and arouses his hatred of his brother which results in premeditated murder. His approach to the Lord is insincere and routine and means nothing to him. The Lord looks upon the heart that offers sacrifice and worship rather than upon the content of the object(s) of the offering presented to him.
Cain came before God as a liar who was angry toward God for discovering his wickedness within. The ‘demon’ “crouching at his door” gained residence in his heart and reigned there to the perpetration of great and serious sin, that lay waiting to manifest itself in unbridled fury.
All our worship and work for God requires purity that only God can supply. Our undetected and unconfessed impurities blight the life of the Church and ward off proffered blessings among us. We do well to come in fear and faith before the Lord and especially to the observances of his holy ordinances.
The account involving Cain and Abel penetrates the conscience as to the state of our souls in the presence of the All Holy One. There is only one way of access - through Jesus Christ and his shed blood. Only one appeal can emerge from our lips, Lord have mercy!