More than Abel
This post goes out to the person who feels like they're wasting their life.
You feel like your efforts to serve God and use your gifts are invisible at best and in vain at worst. Or maybe you’ve been knocked down so many times you’re not sure if you should just give up and stay safe. Quiet that inner witness that you were meant for more. Because life is just too dangerous, too painful, too unfair.
What if I told you someone in the Bible who had every reason to feel like that was actually HONORED by God with a spot in the Hebrews Hall of Faith?
He’s not talked about in a lot of sermons and his story is often glossed over in Sunday school lessons. They don’t make movies about him, and kids don’t aspire to be like him. His life isn’t one of those Bible stories that we like to highlight to our children, secretly hoping that we could see them live it out.
If we knew someone like him today, we’d probably conclude that his life was a waste. A tragedy. Nothing more. And yet his life and even his name prophesies a crucial aspect of God’s character that we were meant to cling to.
His name is Abel.
His story in Genesis 4 is brief, violent, and painful.
The younger son of Adam and Eve honored God with the sacrifice He asked for--a spotless lamb from the flocks he tended. Cain, his older brother ignored God’s instructions and brought fruit from the fields. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. This made Cain burn with jealousy, and even though God came alongside the young man to warn him back from sin and encourage him in the right direction, Cain killed Abel out in the fields and then denied responsibility when God confronted him.
God’s gut-wrenching curse proclaimed that Cain would no longer have success working the ground because his brother’s blood was actually crying out from the soil (Gen. 4:10).
Horrible story! A young man’s life snuffed out because of another man’s jealous actions. What did Abel’s obedience count for if that’s all it afforded him?
This brings us back to those original thoughts you might be thinking about yourself, your own obedience. Is honoring God in obedient faith still worth it if you’re not commended by those around you, your success is snatched away by others, and you’re not getting what you know you deserve? Where’s the hope in that scenario?
As always, the hope is found in our God Himself, the One who lifted Abel up as a model of faith right alongside Moses and Abraham while we would’ve written him off. This is what God had to say:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”
Hebrews 11:4 redeems Abel’s story, showing us that his death wasn’t the end. His faith which manifested in obedience mattered SO MUCH that God commended him by accepting his gifts and justified him as righteous! If God counts you righteous, what does it matter who excludes or disqualifies you on earth?
God empowered Abel’s voice even beyond the grave, so even though his earthly life was cut short, his faith speaks on for eternity. Even more amazing is that Jesus’ Blood shed on our behalf speaks an even better Word than Abel’s (Hebrews 12:24), cleansing us from all sin and paving our path back to God.
You were reborn when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Everything began afresh that day! No matter what the middle of your story is like, remember that persistent, obedient faith is the only guarantee of a rewarding end. Each of us was meant to please God and arrive in eternity with a voice He’s empowered and gifts He’s accepted. And if you haven’t been living your life with that in view, you can begin today!
Start with this food for thought:
- Is there an area of your life where you need to reassess your obedience level?
- What part of your life feels like the most painful waste?
- Dedicate the area(s) above to God. Only He can turn a valley of dry bones into a living, breathing army or a desert into a garden (Ezekiel 37 & Isaiah 51:3)!
- Testify about where He’s already done that in your life!