Acceptable Worship

The story of Cain and Able gives great insight about worship. We can gain a practical understanding about worship. First, worship is doing something. It’s stopping your normal routine and intentionally doing something for the sake of worshipping the Lord. Second, it is giving something. Both Cain and Able brought an offering to the Lord. In the same way, in our culture, we should give something to the Lord. There is so much that we can give: time, money, energy, our lives, etc. Third, worship is pleasing someone. This is what set the worship of Cain and Able apart. The offering Able gave was received with favor. It was acceptable to the Lord and met the standard that God had set.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

We can go through the motions and do the things that look like worship. We can give to the church, to others, and to God. However, just because we do these things, it isn’t automatic that we are pleasing God. A popular song says it well, “You search deeper within, through the way things appear. You’re looking into my heart.” (Heart of Worship by Matt Redman)

Think about it:

With the things we do to worship the Lord, are we pleasing God?

As a living sacrifice, is your life pleasing to the Lord?

Is what you do in the work place, at school, at home, when you go out, is that pleasing to the Lord?

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