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It’s not easy to put God first. We wake up and often our phones are the first distraction of the day. We read the latest news alerts and our minds start to dwell on the issues facing our society. We can see who has tried to reach us, and we start to respond. We check email. We scroll through social media. We start thinking about the day ahead. And before we know it, our minds are focused on what needs to be done instead of where we need to be.
Even when it’s not our phones, we can find ourselves putting God aside for later. That later could be 15 minutes later when we start devotion, but it’s hard to give God your best when you’re already thinking about so much else. Unfortunately, later could also become the next day, or day after that, because we ran out of time to spend time with God. When we put God second, or third, or fourth, we give Him less and less time, until there is none left.
The Story of Cain and Abel
In Genesis 4:3-5, we read about the first recorded offering the Cain and Abel brought to God:
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.
While there are many theories on why Cain’s offering was rejected, I’ll simply offer a statement based on the words used in the scripture. Cain brought to God an offering of his own choosing. Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. The use of the word “firstborn” is important. God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering shows us what is important to our relationship with Christ. He wants our “firsts”.
Why are firsts important?
Because the first reflects priority. We like being the first to board a plane, because we have more room for our luggage and time to get settled. We like when we are the first to find out important news, because it signals our place of importance is someone else’s life. First has meaning. To give God the first of us signifies that He is the first in our lives. By putting God first, we become the best that He intended for us to be.
In our day-to-day actions, when we put God first, we reinforce the role He plays in our lives. If we wake up in the morning and choose to first spend time with God, we are better prepared for the journey of the day. As we faithfully give tithe and offering, we acknowledge the source of our blessings. When God comes before work and the other important commitments we make, we start to put faith into action.
Cain Had More Choices
Yet there is more to learn from the account of Cain and Abel. Cain was angry that God accepted Abel’s offering but not his own. While in the field with his brother, Cain killed Abel. (Genesis 4:8). Here lies the first murder in the Bible. Instead of seeking forgiveness from God and finding peace, Cain allowed his anger to take over. Cain’s decision-making process became clouded, and he acted on impulse emotion.
Do not judge Cain too harshly, however, for becoming consumed with anger. We have all made lackluster decisions based on emotions. Sometimes, anger and jealousy take over and our vision starts to blur. Ephesians 4:26-27 warns us –
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
Do Not Give a Home to Sin
Distractions come in many forms. Emotions can be one of those forms that lead us to take actions that pull us away from God. We make choices filled with destruction and regret. We become indifferent to what God would have us to do, because we are focused on what we want to do. God warns us that it is in this space, where we give a home to sin.
Instead, we have to make daily choices that reflect our desire to put God first. Open yourself to God by communing with Him in His word. Spend time with God daily and give Him your first fruits. It is only when we make God our first priority, that we truly get to know His character and His will for us. He is ready to accept us with open arms, filled with love, guidance, and mercy. If there were ever a time to draw closer to God, now is that time.
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