Acceptable Worship by Ray Ortlund

Both Cain and Abel worshiped the Lord. Both brought Him offerings. But the Lord rejected Cain's worship and accepted Abel's. Why? Not because Abel's was a blood-offering while Cain's was "of the fruit of the ground." The law authorized grain offerings (e.g., Leviticus 2). Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel's worship was acceptable to God because it was "by faith." And "whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). Acceptable worship throbs with a heart-conviction that God is real and rewarding. Cain did not worship God with the psychology of faith. His gift was safe: "Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground" (Genesis 4:3). He worshiped God out of his income from past labors. Abel worshiped God with the psychology of faith. His gift was risky: "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions" (Genesis 4:4). He gave to the Lord from his breeding stock and from their best parts. He worshiped God out of his chances for the future, out of his capital. When God rejected Cain's worship, he took his anger out on his brother. Murder in the cathedral (T. S. Eliot). The beginning of the divide between the true and false people of God who otherwise mingle together. It is good to run from safe, no-risk worship. It is good to worship God with a practical demonstration that He alone is the future our hearts will be happy with. "Let us offer to God acceptable worship" (Hebrews 12:28). by Ray Ortlund

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