GIVING – WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES? ARE THEY THE SAME AS CAIN'S?
I dare say that most “religious” people give because they feel they HAVE TO GIVE.
Giving has to be a heart issue, not a mind issue. Giving is not to be from a mindset that is artificially created by man to force them to give anything to God, including their money.
If you believe you MUST tithe, then that’s fine. I find it nowhere in the Bible that we non-Jews must tithe or give a tenth of our income to the Church.
Because I have already covered this subject in great detail in Heaven – How Do I Get There, chapter nine, and at some length in another of my FaithWriter's Articles on Tithing, I won’t go back over those biblical reasons why tithing is NOT for anyone but Jews.
I won’t review what went on when Abraham and then Jacob gave a tenth of all of the abundance God gave them, and recorded only on one occasion of a huge blessing God delivered into their hands.
I will, however, stipulate their reasons for giving were quite clear….their hearts were right with God….they appreciated what God gave them, and they intended to worship God by giving back something from their heart of thanksgiving.
Did God really need to have their tenth? Of course not. Later, it was decided that Jews would pay the Levites who operated the Temple – House of God, if you will, and that was because the tribe of Levi was set aside to minister to the other eleven tribes of Israel, and they were instructed NOT to participate in any investments, nor to be gainfully employed doing other than ministry work.
THE MYSTERY OF CAIN AND ABEL
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of mankind to discover the WHY of giving.
Many Christians and non-Christians alike, skip right past the reason that Cain slew his brother Abel. Some believe that God was upset with the offering that Cain brought to Him, but was pleased with Abel’s offering, so Cain got jealous of Abel and killed him.
Others skip over this reading because it is too difficult to deal with. They think if they give the wrong amount or quality of something to God, He might be displeased with them.
Others yet, believe that Abel gave a blood sacrifice offering to God when he brought the best or “firstfruits” of his animal flock to preset to God, while Cain brought vegetables that he had cultivated before the Lord, so the blood sacrifice was somehow significant to God over the vegetables.
There are some, theologians included, who believe there is no answer as to why God rejected Cain’s offering over Abel’s, and conversely, there is no clear, concise answer as to why God chose Abel’s offering over Cain’s.
One could then let doubt creep into their lives as to what moved God to accept one and reject the other, therefore, we will never really know what moves God.
Someone else could say, “If God knew He was openly accepting Abel’s gift, and openly rejecting Cain’s gift, then God was setting Abel up for death, and that is not fair nor right. This is what Satan wants us to believe…..God is not fair…..God is not just…..God is outright mean.
Let’s discover the reason we give today from the Bible itself. My motto is “Prove the Bible with the Bible.”
Genesis 4: And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
The first two offspring of Adam and Eve was Cain and Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep…..he did not raise vegetables and fruits by tilling the ground. Therefore, when it comes time for him to give something back to God, if he chose to, it would be an offering of meat.
On the other hand, Cain was a gardener. He did not provide meat for the family….only fruits and vegetables, therefore, God did not enable Cain to provide sheep, but did enable him to skillfully provide the fruits and vegetables. Therefore, when it came time for Cain to provide an offering or gift back to the Lord, if he chose to, it would be vegetables and/or fruit.
If God demanded meat offerings from Cain, and meat offerings from Abel, God would have given both the ability to raise sheep and perhaps grow a garden as well. From this, I get that God provides a means for us to have an increase in whatever it is we are enabled, by Him, to do.
Genesis 4:3- “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.”
No problem so far. Cain grew fruit of the ground and brought an offering or gift of his firstfruits of it to the Lord. How do I know Can brought the firstlings or “firstfruits” of his abundance or crop? The next verse tells me that Abel also brought of the firstlings of his abundance. Also brought is the key.
4-And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering.”
Abel brought the best of what he raised as an offering to God. ….the firstlings of his sheep. Notice that nowhere does the Bible state that either brought a tenth or any percentage whatsoever. They both brought an offering of their best to God. That is all that God expects of us…to give thanks back to Him for the abundance He allows to come into our lives.
This is a form of worship to God…to give thanks back to our Creator. Cain and Abel (and Adam and Eve) knew God was there with them (although they were now outside of the Garden of Eden), because God would still talk with them and had a personal relationship with them.
He wants a personal relationship with us, and wants us to exercise two aspects of respect for Him as Creator. The first is something Adam Eve, Cain and Abel did not have, and that was faith that God existed….because God was right there with them. The apostles were right there with Jesus, so they did not need faith to believe on Him.
They would, however, had to have faith that God loved them, provided for them, cared for their needs, and supplied them with “daily bread” if you will, and the second and most important thing God wanted from them was WORSHIP. He wanted them to bring an offering to Him out of a heart of love, devotion, respect, reverence and gratitude. “In everything – give thanks.”
Verse 5 – “But unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
God demonstrated to Cain that He did not respect his offering. Why? Then, Cain was angry at God and at Abel, his do-good brother.
We discover why Cain’s offering was not respected by God, and it wasn’t because it was fruits and vegetables and not meat.
God knows the hearts of mankind. He knew that Cain had a bitter, envious attitude toward his brother. We don’t know why, but you can bet Satan was behind it. God knew that Cain was developing a very negative, sinful attitude, and this is why God would not respect his offering.
When we bring a gift to God, and harbor envy, strife, and other sin in our life, God will not even hear our prayers, let alone accept any gift that we would offer Him.
To find that this is a true statement, one has only to meander over to Matthew 5: 22-24 to discover what Jesus said about having anger in your heart toward a brother….physical or spiritual brother.
22-"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (speaks to with contempt or ridicule) shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
AMPLIFIED BIBLE – Verse 23 – “”So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, 24-Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.”
Jesus is telling us – as God did Cain…”if you have any grievance against your brother, go and make it right BEOFRE I can accept your gift.”
If you intend to worship God, which is to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving to Him for all that He has given you….but you have iniquity (evil thoughts - sin) in your heart, God will not accept the gift, nor will He even hear your prayer of thanks…..because you don’t mean it…it is an empty worship.
How do I jump to that conclusion? David said it best in Psalm 66:18 –“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Because God knows everything, He knew that Cain had developed a jealous, bitter attitude toward his brother, Abel.Later, in 1 John 3:13, this is recounted. "Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous."
How then could Cain expect to bring a gift to God’s altar while regarding evil thoughts of his brother, and have God turn a blind eye to his sin…and accept his gift.
If Cain (or anyone) hates their brother (physical or spiritual brother), yet they say they love God, they are a liar. Therefore, if they hate their brother, they also do not love God, so how can anyone bring a gift of worship to the altar of God and expect God to receive it?
1 John 4:20 tells it this way: “If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 - And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.”
So, if we (or Cain) does not love his brother, but says he loves and worships God….that man is a liar. God will not accept a gift from a liar, and that is why He did not accept Cain’s gift.
God did not let this heart condition of Cain lie dormant. He addresses it in verses 6 and 7 of Genesis 4 – RVS – “The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?" Do you suppose that God already knew that evil was in the heart of Cain?
God, the omniscient One, knew the heart of Cain, but He wanted Cain to confront this sin building up inside of him against his brother Abel. This statement found in verse 6 was made to Cain BEFORE he killed his brother.
7. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
God told Cain (and tells us), If you do well, your gift will be accepted. If you do not do well (by letting evil thoughts and sin creep into your heart, your gift cannot be accepted.
In plain terms, if we give anything to God in the form of worship and praise, yet we regard evil thoughts and deeds in our hearts, He will not accept our gift either.
If it is a monetary offering, and we give it because it is mandated, God will not accept it, and we have wasted it. We gave it because we “had to”, and not because we wanted to.
Forcing us to give a percentage of our income to a church is a mandate….a “you must give” rule of man, and God does NOT want us to give grudgingly…or sparingly….He wants us to be happy, cheerful givers when we give Him our worship and praise using money.
And we can further prove out the reason why God did not accept Cain’s gift of worship, but did gladly accept Abel’s gift of worship by reviewing a New Testament Book – the Book of Hebrews.
Hebrews was written to the newly converted Jews. They were now “Christ followers” or disciples of Christ. A disciple is NOT an apostle, just so you know it, but an apostle is a disciple.
The Jews in the New Testament were taught that they must accept Christ as Lord and Savior, and shown how to function as a body of believers called “the Church”. Some of the leaders of those new churches began teaching the Jews that it’s okay to follow Christ, but they must also revert back to the Law of Moses, and obey those commandments.
Jesus was very direct when He told His apostles to tell all the pastors of these churches that He came to FULFILL THE LAW, and the new Christians (converted Jews and a short time later Christian gentiles) were NOT to follow the Law any longer, but they were to live under God’s grace, which now superceded and the law. Man could not live (eternally) by the Law because man could not keep the law. The law was given to man to prove they could not live by it.
The Book of Hebrews should prove to folks that the Law was no longer the controlling factor for non-Jews. Therefore, the law of tithing to the non-Jews was abolished, and the grace of giving from a joyful heart was taking precedent.
I do believe that the Jewish law of tithing was to support the Levites and the Temple. Although we are not Jews, the thought must come to us that it takes at least 10% of our income to support the church and the pastor and staff, so it’s a good guideline for non-Jews to use. To support the ‘will of God”…to win souls, however, consumes a lot more money, so keep this in mind when you think about how much money you want to return to the one who provided it to you in the first place.
Everything we do….our MOTIVES, must come from a heart that loves God, and that wants to worship Him from a heart that loves the sweet fellowship between God and His creation.
If I asked 10 “Christians” (or non-Christians), “Why do you attend church, temple, synagogue, mosque, or any other so-called religious building?”, they might say, “Because I have to, or because God mandates that I do it, or my pastor or priest tells me that I must be here.”
That is not worship or praise. It is a negative reason for doing something that we ought to be doing solely because we love God and want to be in His house of worship.
If I asked, “Why do you teach Sunday School?” “The answer might be, “Pastor says they need help, and they know I used to teach, so I feel guilty if I don’t.”
These are all the wrong reasons, so joy won’t come out of drudgery……joy comes from worshiping God with the right motives….YOU WANT TO DO IT….FOR HIM. The same holds true for giving – whether it is giving money, time or talent.
Hebrews Chapter 11 gives us insight into this faith and worship that Abel had, but Cain did not. In the first verse, we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
And verse 4 reflects back on Abel’s sacrifice of worship and praise. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained the testimony of God that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it (Abel’s faith) he being dead still speaks.”
Hebrews 11:6 sums faith up. “Without faith, it is not possible to please God.” Cain did NOT have this faith that worshiping and serving God with a right heart and right attitude was “doing well”. Abel did have this faith…this attitude of “doing well”.
Abel’s faith in God, and his desire to worship God by giving back a portion of his abundance given to him by God, was the sole reason God accepted his offering, and rejected Cain’s. God still speaks of Abel’s faith to us…even thought Abel is long dead…..murdered by his brother who had the wrong motive for bringing God an offering of worship and praise.
Simply put, an offering is accepted by God if our hearts are right and pure in our motives for giving. Abel’s motives were pure, so his gift was accepted.
Cain’s motives were impure. He felt that he had to give an offering, but didn’t want to. He harbored hatred toward his brother, and God knew his heart was not right, so God could not and did not accept Cain’s gift.
God pointed out to Cain that “sin was crouching at the door”, and if he was to “do right”, he would have to master sin.” - Genesis 4:7
As it turned out, Cain invited his brother Abel out into a field, and there he murdered him.
Cain’s heart was full of iniquity….hatred, jealousy. God cannot hear from anyone who has thoughts of committing evil in their hearts, nor will he accept a gift at His altar when this condition is prevalent.
God accepts gifts of worship and praise when our hearts and motives are clean and pure before Him. Cain’s heart was evil. Abel’s heart was right. God rejected Cain’s attitude of the gift, and He accepted Abel’s right attitude of worship and praise.
John Tyler, Author
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