Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of 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 face fell. Genesis 4:1-5
Most of us know that Cain killed his brother, Abel. But why? God regarded Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. Why not? This was the first recorded offering man makes to the Lord, but it is safe to say that by now many had been made. Cain and Abel were either adults or older adolescents by this time, and there was probably a pattern already set for what was an acceptable offering. The only other sacrifice recorded was when Adam and Eve sinned. The Lord slew an animal and made clothes for the couple from the skins. That animal was the first blood sacrifice for sin, and Abel’s sacrifice was after that pattern. And since it’s safe to say there had been other sacrifices since then, Cain and Abel had seen this pattern and understood why. Cain decided to do something different, that did not commemorate the substitutionary sacrifice for sin.
Today, we all have the same choice. We can either honor the sacrifice Christ made for us, or, we can make our own sacrifice. Maybe you believe that doing your best is all that matters. Although doing your best is a good thing, it does not take away sin. And sin is what separates us from God, not our to-do list.