First Things First

Genesis 4:1–10 NLT - Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” Later she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!

I. Re-gifting to God

A. Have you ever received a gift and thought to yourself, How much effort went into this?

  • Sometimes we receive gifts we don’t really like. Some of those gifts we end up re-gifting to others.

B. God accepted Abel’s gift and rejected Cain’s

  • Dr. Mariottini (Old testament professor at Northern Baptist Seminary) suggests there is not sufficient evidence for either theory. He contends the reason is likely due to Cain’s attitude toward giving.

C. Attitude

Hebrews 11:4 NLT - It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

  • Maybe it was the way Cain felt about the gift that made the difference.

Could that be why God rejected it his offering? Did Cain decided to give God something he really didn’t want? Could it have been his attitude toward giving that cost him dearly?

II. How they gave their offerings

Genesis 4:3–4a NLT - When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift…

A. Abel gave the best

  • Abel gave his best, which introduces us to the concept of first-fruit offerings.

B. First fruits refers to the first portion of the harvest which is given to God.

Psalm 24:1 NLT - The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.

C. What attitude did Cain have? How did he give?

Genesis 4:1 NLT - Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain, she said, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!”

  • In Hebrew, Cain's name is kayin. The context suggests that the name derives from the word kanah, which means acquire. Which is the direct translation of Eve. We say produced or brought forth but our bible all have a little note by that.

  • Cain the "acquirer" Cain the farmer works the earth, seeks to ground himself in possessions.

Ecclesiastes 1:4 NLT - Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.

D. Two things I think are important.

  • First the obvious. Cain wanted to keep the best for Himself. He gave God what he didn’t want.

  • Secondly which is not so obvious and I get it from what Eve says about Cains birth, then the actual consequences that Cain faces after he murders his brother.

  • I think Cain may have had this same attitude. I’m the farmer. Look what I and God have done

Isaiah 42:8 NLT - “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.

Genesis 4:11–16 NLT - Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!” The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

  • What he loved more than God turned against him. Instead of being grounded in one place like farmers are he settles in the land of Nod which means wanderer. He goes on to build cities not farm.

III. What happens when we Give with the wrong attitude.

A. Does God punish Cain for his attitude?

B. What is the result of not giving first fruits?

  • The result is sin is couching at the door eager to control you.

C. Cain lost what he loved most.

  • God will always ask for what you have put over Him.

Mark 10:17–21 NLT - As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

IV. How do we insure giving First Fruits

A. You will never choose first fruits until you choose Him first.

  • He has to be your first in your time. How much time do you give Him.

  • He has to be your first in your talent. How are you serving God and His church.

  • He has to be first in your treasure.

B. More important than the amount or the type of gift is how the offering is presented.

2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT - You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

Mantra: It’s not about how bad you are, but how good He is.

Summary

Giving God our best is a reflection of our relationship with him; if we don’t think much of him and what he has done, we are probably not going to give easily or generously. What happened to Cain because of how he gave not so much what he gave. Let’s bow our heads and Give God our lives in gratitude.