Good Intentions Were Never Enough
Read: Genesis 4
Genesis 4:4, 5: “And Abel also brought an offering–fat portions from some of the firstborn 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.”
The story of Cain and Abel raises several questions. Why did God reject Cain’s offering? Perhaps Cain offered God rotting fruit? Or maybe God is not a vegetarian? Or maybe it is futile to answer this question? I don’t think so. A better explanation is that Abel, in making a blood sacrifice, followed a prescription that God had given Adam and Eve when He first clothed them in skins. In offering produce Cain suggested that his best was good enough to offer God. God’s reminder, “If you do what is right” (v. 7), supports this interpretation.
No doubt that Cain had good intentions, but they were never good enough. But there is more on to that; Abel sacrificed his offerings by faith. This is what the author of the Hebrews says, “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. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks (Heb. 11:4, ESV).”
Ellen White sheds light, “An important lesson may be learned from the history of the offerings of Cain and Abel. The claims of infinite justice, and the demands of God’s law, can be met only by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The most costly offering that man may bring to God, the fruit of his toil, his physical and intellectual acquirements, already belong to his Creator. Man has nothing which he has not received. Neither material wealth nor intellectual greatness will atone for the sin of the soul. Cain scorned the idea that it was necessary to come to God with an offering of blood. In the same spirit many in our day refuse to believe that the blood of Christ was shed as a sacrifice for the sins of men. Although Cain chose to disregard the command of God, he brought his offering with great confidence. He looked upon it as the fruit of his own labor, and hence as belonging to himself; and in presenting it to God he felt that he was placing his Creator under obligations to him. The popular religion of the day virtually teaches the same thing, that men may by their good works merit the blessing of God. Many feel that it is a condescension on their part to make a profession of religion; and that in so doing they are conferring a favor upon God. And there are multitudes who have no desire to come to God’s terms, but who make terms for themselves, and expect God to accept them. Such a religion is of the same character as that of Cain. The great question should be, What can I do to meet the approval of God? not, How can I best please myself? Abel trusted
Will you accept His atoning sacrifice to become the daily basis of your life today?
 Ellen White, The Sign of the Times, Feb. 6, 1879.