Whenever I think of offering to God I wonder at the offerings of Cain and Abel. It makes me wonder why God accepted the offerings of Abel and was displeased with the sacrifice that Cain offered. Is it because God wanted animal sacrifices or their blood shed?
What does God say about animal offerings?
God prefers sacrifices from our hearts. “What do I care, says Yahweh, “for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor… I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense. Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear.” (Isaiah 1:11-13) In the scriptures we find in so many places what kind of offerings God expects from us.
Then what does God want from us?
He wants us to be reconciled with His love and with the love of others. “Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from my sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)
We should be ready to be washed away from anger and hatred, sorrow and despair, guilt and superstitions, lust and lasciviousness that stain and blot our hearts by the precious blood of Our Lord. Jesus taught us to be reconciled with all others before we offer our sacrifices to God. He insists the first thing to do is to be in good terms with our neighbors. “When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23)
Offer the best
God accepted the sacrifice of Abel because he had offered the best of his flock. If we want our offerings to be accepted we should offer the best of our mind. We must present ourselves as the best offering, with due repentance, recognizing our shortcomings and weaknesses, and with a heart overflowing with humility and contrition. If we are stubborn and refuse to accept our own culpability, then we perhaps become bitter and hold a grudge against others like Cain. Let us remember what the Psalmist says, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalms 51:17)
With great filial love we should approach the altar of God. Let us give the best to God, give Him first place in our heart, give Him the first place in our service, and consecrate every part.