“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s.” Hebrews 11:4
What is an acceptable sacrifice before God? If we do the right thing but with the wrong motive, or a sour attitude, is that good enough? Not according to the Bible. An acceptable sacrifice is the right thing done with the right attitude.
In the Old Testament, all sacrifices had to be unblemished. The prophet Malachi condemned the people for not offering God their best. “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not wrong? Try presenting that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor?” (Malachi 1:8) The point of requiring unblemished animals was that God deserved the people’s best.
We make many offerings to God. We come to worship; we serve the church in some way; we reach out to the needy; we gather for study; we give our tithes; we try to do the right thing. The question is, what is our attitude? It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong attitude.
Moses is a good example. At the end of Moses’ life the Bible gives this evaluation of him. “Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequalled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) Moses was about as close to God as anyone has ever been.
Yet Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land because he failed in his attitude. On one occasion, when the people were in need of water, God told him to speak to the rock that water might flow from it. Instead Moses berated the people and struck the rock in anger. Water flowed from the rock, but God was displeased. Moses did not keep a close watch on his attitude and it cost him dearly. His story is a warning to us.
Jesus instructs us to, “Beware, keep alert.” (Mark 13:33) This is an instruction about attitude. If we are to present God acceptable offerings, we should seek to do the right thing for the right reason and with the right attitude.
Sometimes we do the right thing from a sense of duty. We know it needs to be done but we would rather not. These are the moments in which we need to heed Jesus’ words. Pay attention to our attitudes and seek to give God our best. It is not hard to serve God when it’s easy. It is more noble and praiseworthy to serve God with a good heart, when we are tired, when it costs us something, and when the service is difficult.
The difference between Abel’s acceptable sacrifice and Cain’s rejected one was certainly attitude. Hebrews says that it was Abel’s faith that made his offering acceptable. Let’s work this week to do the right thing with a good heart, and thus give our best to God.
With Warm Regards,