All a person’s ways seem pure to them,but motives are weighed by the Lord. (Prov 16:2)
To the observer they both were hard working, successful, and had good jobs. Although their jobs were quite different. They both had a good life, and enjoyed the fruit of their work.
One chose in faith to believe that world in which he worked was created by God. He saw his work as a privilege, and an opportunity to tend and care for God’s creation. He chose in faith to believe that the tools and skills he used in his job were gifts from God. The other took pride in his own skills and abilities.
One wrestled with the weeds and thistles in the ground but in faith looked forward to a future unmarred by the fall. The other cursed the weeds and thorns as he sweated away at his work.
One believed in the hidden things of God that he was unable to detect with his own senses. He saw past the mist and darkness of this world and glimpsed through eyes of faith the Kingdom of Heaven. The other heard stories about God and went through the rituals of worshipping God.
One they the two of them came to the altar with offerings from their careers. The only visible difference to their offerings was the different products they made and brought. Neither of them realized that sin and death was lurking in the shadows at their place of worship.
The observer would have seen one walk away with peace and joy written all over his face, and the other angrily storming away.
What the observer could not see was that one came with faith, and one didn’t.
Although both of their ways may have seemed pure or good to them and the observer, the Lord was weighing their motives. God was searching their hearts and examining their minds.
One walked away from the altar that day knowing that he had been doing the will of God. He knew that God was pleased with the way he did his work, with his attitudes, with his love, with his faith.
The other walked away angry, filled with jealousy and wondering if the offering had all been a waste of time and good products. As he walked away he heard God gently, lovingly call him to do well, telling him that he could find God’s acceptance if he didn’t let sin rule over him. Had he paused to really listen, he would have heard God’s passion for his heart and soul.
Time passed, and the two brothers found themselves working in the same field. Sin had followed them from the altar to the workplace. There sin overcame Cain, and he decided to end things by killing his brother Abel.
Was it worth it for Abel to trust in God?
The murderer Cain continued to experience God’s grace. He received God’s promise of protection as he settled elsewhere in God’s creation. He continued to fulfill God’s creation mandate as he established a dynasty for himself. The Bible tells us that many of the good things we enjoy today came from Cain’s descendants – metal working, music, agriculture. What we don’t know is if Cain ever accepted God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and placed his faith in God.
To the observer, Abel’s death was a senseless tragedy. Abel would never have descendants. Abel would no longer have the privilege of creating new things from what God created. Somebody else would take over his job, and life would move on.
But Abel did not choose to live for an earthly Kingdom but for a Heavenly Kingdom. Remember that whatever Abel did, he worked at it with all his heart as working for the Lord.
At that moment when Abel breathed his last breath, Abel entered into the ultimate reality, a place filled with everlasting pleasures, riches and glories that far exceed the pleasures of this world. At that moment, in Heaven, Abel heard these words “well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of my rest”.
Abel received the promise of eternal life, and lives today in Heaven. Abel is perfectly holy, he is no longer tainted by sin. Abel no longer has to deal with weeds or thorns. Abel doesn’t have to worry about stumbling, falling or being hungry. Abel no longer feels like his prayers bounce of the ceiling or that God is silent. For Abel is face to face with Jesus. Abel no longer experiences doubt or fears. Abel sees clearly now what his faith and hope rested upon.
Although Abel is now enjoying life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the amazing part of Abel’s story is that his voice still speaks today.
Abel’s story tells you that the life of faith, a life of righteousness is possible, and priceless. Abel’s story assures you that God is wise, that God is good, that God is in control and that God is just. Abel’s story invites you to see everything in light of the Kingdom of God. Abel’s story challenges you to trust in the activity of the invisible Almighty God. Abel’s story shows you that all that the Lord requires of you is to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Abel’s story assures you that God’s approval is worth more than man’s approval.
The Lord searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought. What will the Lord find when he searches your heart at work today?