In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.’
Any discussion about money and wealth must begin with Cain and Abel. And no, it’s not because an animal can fetch a better price at the market than some fruit. It is the first time in Scripture that we see human beings working and offering a portion to God. Remember, the original plan for Adam and Eve was complete paradise in the Garden of Eden. Sin wrecked our utopia, so instead men and women were forced to work for their food, clothing, and shelter. For the first time, God’s children knew sweat, labor, pain, and what it means to give up something you’ve worked hard to cultivate. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a few sentences after the concept of work is created, the world experienced the first murder.
All mention of money and wealth in Scripture is tied back to the idea of what is ours and what is God’s. We owe everything to God. Cain’s sin was not in bringing the wrong offering to God, but believing that something he had done, something for which he was responsible, was deserving of higher regard. God is not impressed by our individual financial savvy if we believe that it is our financial savvy. God wants us to recognize that He, the Creator, is responsible for our well-being and we are merely offering back to Him what is already His. Abel gave the best of what he had to God, the most valuable parts of the best animals. Perhaps Cain’s gift was excellent too, but his pride in his own harvest led him to sin.
This week we will be examining our relationship with God and money. Our first takeaway is the most important: everything belongs to God. We still sweat and labor and sacrifice to earn a living, but we must also remember that it is not our money or accomplishments. God grants us talent and opportunity to perform good works on His behalf, but all agency belongs to God, from whom all blessings flow.