The comment card accurately reflected the condition of the restaurant and the service (or lack of it) that I received that evening. I don't know how my comments were received, but that was not something over which I had control. They asked for my opinion and I gave it to them; they wanted my feedback!
Feedback is always good; however, how we receive it determines its value to us! It is our tendency to reject feedback that takes issues with our actions and to place value on feedback that approves our actions. Maybe you haven't had that problem, but I think most of us have at one time or the other. Talk about considering the source, what do you suppose would happen if God gave us immediate feedback as to how He views our actions? Would you feel free to disagree with Him, or to discount His comments as if they were of little or no value? Today's devotional considers just such an occurrence.
“...Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4.2b-5). Two men, two offerings, two reactions by God, and two responses to God's feedback; these things are the crux of today's story. We are prohibited by space from getting into all the details, but we will look at a few interesting things about these events.
First, God gave feedback (apparently immediate) to the two worshiper's offerings. We don't know for sure how that feedback occurred, but we know that it occurred. Regarding Abel, God was pleased; regarding his brother, it was a different story. The text simply states that God “...did not respect Cain and his offering.” It is implied that the worshipers knew without a doubt what God thought of their offerings. Previously in this message, it was stated, “Feedback is always good; however, how we receive it determines its value to us.” The feed back was good, but the way in which it was received was horrific! Who could be a better judge of the acceptability of ones offering than God! Yet, Cain was very angry.
Beyond being angry, the scriptures also say that Cain's countenance fell. This is not a common phrase, but certainly one which we can understand. We have all seen it and more than likely we have all done it. When things didn't quite go our way, the smile was wiped off our face and our look betrayed the dejected feeling in out heart. A bitter pill to swallow is still a pill; its taste does not determine it value! As regards the medicinal value of a pill, whether it is candy flavored or totally without any enhancement, it is what it is! God gave both worshipers feedback, but Cain was not ready to accept the only opinion that mattered; his desire for acceptance was eclipsed by the selfishness of his offering!
The rest of the story is well known; Cain's inordinate envy of Abel caused him to commit the first murder among the human race. He had some other wonderful options! “So 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 lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'” (Genesis 4.6-7). God's final counsel to Cain was “...you should rule over it.” This could be loosely paraphrased as “...stop being so self-willed and listen to what you are being told!”
Cain did not consider the source. Had he stopped to look at his actions, he could have ruled over them, but he did not. Selfish desires can lead to horrific consequences. Hear the feedback by reading the book!
1. How did Cain and Abel know how God felt about their worship?
2. Why did Cain's countenance fall? What could he have changed so that his countenance would not have fallen when he received God's negative feedback?
3. What could he have changed so that God's feedback would not have been negative?
4. What could Cain have done to make God's feedback of value to him? Was the feedback good? Was his reaction to it good? Explain the difference.
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