There was a time I had hurt my back at work and the workman compensation doctor prescribed pain medicine so my back wouldn’t hurt. That was great because there was no pain soon after taking the medicine but the pain would increase shortly before the next dose; it was a vicious cycle. This doctor only looked at the symptom; the pain in my back; instead of addressing the real problem at hand. It wasn’t until I went to a chiropractor who adjusted the vertebrae to its proper location that the pain went away and the medication was no longer needed. The pain medicine masked the pain of the real problem at hand; the out of place vertebrae. The out of place vertebrae had to be put back where it rightly belonged.
Society does the same thing by looking to the symptom of each problem and then trying to manage the symptom instead of addressing the real issue at hand. We now believe if we could only petition to get rid of a certain business, limit access to a specific website or ban a particular weapon; man would not chase those things and life will be sunshine and rainbows for everyone. The problem that we are seeing is that control over an item is not the issue. Even if that particular nuisance is eliminated there would be a second and third choice right behind it. The real problem at hand is man’s heart and this must be addressed if we want to really take care of the problem instead of only treating the symptoms.
This problem is seen early on in the creation of mankind. In Genesis chapter four, Adam and Eve had two boys by the name of Cain and Abel. Though it is not written for us to see; there must have been some revelation to them that they should give a gift to God to express their gratitude for God’s provision. Cain was a farmer, so it would be proper for him to bring produce. Abel was the rancher so it would be proper for him to bring an animal.
It appears that it was about relationship and the heart of the giver. Thus the idea of a gift. A gift is something that is given voluntarily. The gift was also about giving in faith. To give by faith the first of something means there is no guarantee that the plant will produce more fruit or the mother goat will have more kids. God prescribed this for them to do but God must have promised something. If you do this my way; you will be righteous.
It appears that Cain brought his gift out of his surplus or just because he felt obligated since Abel did it. It wasn’t given from the heart. Abel brought the first born and the best portions from his flock. Cain gave out of duty or obligation; Abel gave by faith from his heart.
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4
Abel was righteous for doing it God’s way. Their way of salvation was by being obedient to what God commanded them.
Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 esv
The Lord accepted Abel’s offering, but Cain’s offering was not accepted. Cain did not care to do things God’s way which was by faith. Cain wanted righteousness by his own way, but it is clearly seen that righteousness comes God’s way by faith.
Cain became angry and sad and he recognized that he didn’t do it how God wanted. Now he has a choice. To come to God: God’s way, which is by faith or continue to do things his way. He could have gotten out of his sad state, but instead of getting right with God, Cain expresses his frustration to Abel then kills him. Cain picked up a rock which was the closest thing to him; then he uses that rock to kill his brother. The rock wasn’t the issue though it was the tool used; the problem was Cain’s heart which was far from God.
Despite the atrocity that Cain did, God still provided an opportunity to show grace to him by asking, “Where is Abel your brother?” Instead of confessing his actions to God and asking for grace and forgiveness; Cain unapologetically tells God, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (vs.8); truly showing where his heart was. His heart was far from God.
How about you? Is your heart from God like Cain’s? Quit addressing the symptoms and let’s address the real problem with mankind: our hearts. God is patiently waiting for you to turn to Him. Come to God His way by faith and let him cleanse your heart.
…Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:1-2,10