I love my Bible and try to understand and believe every word of it. However, sometimes my human brain, with its limited capacity, cannot decipher the wisdom of the judgments of God.
The Bible says that, ‘the laborer is worthy of his hire. (Luke 10:7.) In other words God honors hard and sincere labor. I have thought that Cain was a hard worker. He was the tiller of the land. As an amateur gardener I know the hard labor involved in coaxing plants to grow. I also know the heart-bursting joy of the first harvest. I think it was Cain’s idea to bring a sacrifice to God and I can imagine the pride with which he would have laid it on the altar. But God did not accept his offering. I have heard many reasons why his offering was not acceptable. But I still fail to understand the logic of it.
And then there is Martha, who took up the duties as the woman of the house when her mother died. She took on the responsibilities of caring for her father and siblings, Lazarus and Mary. Jesus loved this little family and was always welcome in their home. One day Jesus dropped in and Martha, always the gracious hostess, invited Him in and made Him comfortable and sat at His feet. (Yes, she did. Luke says (Luke.10:38) that ‘Mary also sat at Jesus’ feet – which would mean that Martha was already there.)
As time passed by Martha realized that she had to prepare the food for her honored guest and she wanted it to be special. As she hurried around getting things ready she wanted Mary to help her. But Jesus instead of appreciating her need complimented Mary on her choice to stay with Him.
Then there is the story of the prodigal son. The elder son works all day long in the fields helping their father. The younger one plays around until he is old enough to claim his inheritance. Once he gets it he goes away to a distant land and squanders it all away. Consequently he ends up in a pig sty caring for them. When he is reduced to having to share the food of the pigs he decides to come home and seek his father’s forgiveness. When the father saw him he embraced him and prepared a great welcome.
The elder son came home that evening and was surprised at the bright lights, music and the tantalizing smell of meat roasting on the pit and honey cakes baking in the oven. He questioned the servant at the gate and is told that his brother is home. Dismayed and miserable he stood outside and wondered why his father never gave him such a banquet.
I can identify myself with Cain, Martha and the older son. Many times the prize I sought with hard labor had been snatched away by someone else. I have raised bewildered and tearful eyes to God and cried, “Why, God, Why?” Wouldn’t that be the same question Cain, Martha, and the elder son also asked God? It touches my heart that God really cared and answered them.
“What can you offer Me the Lord of the Harvest?
What can you feed the One who is the Bread of Life?
What greater banquet can you desire from Me who has given you the feast of My abiding presence?
Don’t you understand that because you are so special to me I ask you, above all earthly things, entire and whole and perfect the sacrifice of your love, your obedience and yourself? Abide in Me and I will abide in you. There is no greater blessing than this.”
This is the Gift of God. No amount of labor can earn it.
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