2008-04-22 - Abel: Mr. Innocent
Hebrews chapter 11 is usually regarded as a faith chapter. Today I'd like us to start looking more closely at the people mentioned in the chapter. The author of Hebrews included these men and women, based on their acts of faith and they can be guides for our lives today.
Have you ever experienced a friend, colleague, or a family member who was jealous of the accolades or attention you were getting? That's just what happened to Abel.
It was a typical day during the harvest season. The sky was its normal shade. Abel was minding his own business, doing what a shepherd is supposed to do, keeping constant care and watch of his flock. When it was time to offer back to the Lord what He has provided, Abel made a point to find the best meat from his lambs. He made a conscious choice to give God something of value. Only the most excellent animal would do for the Lord. It was all His anyway. Abel's older brother Cain saw things a little differently. Cain was a farmer, planting seeds and tilling the land. He offered God a gift of his produce, but the produce wasn't his finest. The food was neither colorful nor abundant. Abel wasn't about to tell Cain how he was mocking God, and that he needed to show some sort of effort.
While Cain gave God leftovers, Abel offered God the best. Abel genuinely surrendered the best sheep in his fold as a gift to the Lord. Not surprisingly, God wasn't happy with Cain's offering, and only accepted Abel's. Abel offered his best to God, while his brother Cain squeaked by and shortchanged the Lord.
Later, Cain met his younger brother in the field. Could it be Abel thought Cain had a change of heart, and wanted his advice on how to honor the Lord. Oh, if that were true. Fit with anger and envy, Cain killed Abel. It was a dark day for the Earth's first family. Abel was gone, and would never become a man. All that promise, talent, and innocence vanished at the hand of his brother. God punished Cain by banishing him from the grounds. Cain eventually found meaning in life. He became the founder of a city, and had a family of his own.
Abel didn't know his sacrifice to the Lord would result in the ultimate sacrifice: his own life. Although it was not fair that Abel should lose his existence because of Cain's selfish actions, he will be remembered throughout the ages for his faithfulness. Abel sacrificed something of himself. Sacrifices aren't always comfortable, and inevitability cost us something. Whether in the financial realm or balancing life's responsibilities, we need to be willing to make sacrifices, in order to allow the Lord access on our behalf. Whatever form our sacrifice takes, it goes hand and hand with trusting in God. They are companions on this road to success. We have to trust that the Lord will meet our needs, as He has said in Philippians 4:19. Abel made his sacrifice ungrudgingly. He didn't focus on what he was giving up. Making a sacrifice communicates to God. The unselfish act tells Him we are willing to be used by Him-and willing to suffer, trust, and honor God. Thanks to Hebrews 11 Abel isn't just remembered for being the first casualty in the Bible. Adam's and Eve's second son is remembered for his faithfulness. Abel was obedient, he experienced God's favor, and was innocent of the crime done to him.
Unfortunately, human nature hasn't changed much since Abel roamed the Earth tending to his sheep. We should not stop doing the right thing, afraid something bad will happen. We remain obedient to God first, and we don't base our actions on fear, nor should we dread something bad will happen.
Lord, You are our protector. We look to You for guidance and protection. In Jesus' name, Amen.