Have you ever known a person who is really, really good at giving meaningful and intentional gifts to others? They are the ones who months ago heard you mention that you really loved a certain brand of coffee, or that you had seen a beautiful emerald green scarf at a certain boutique that caught your eye. When it comes time for a special occasion, you can’t wait to see what they have found to give as a gift because you know it comes from the heart.
When we read of the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16, we see how they both brought an offering before the Lord, but we see two different reactions from God: God was pleased with Abel and his offering, but with Cain, He was not pleased.
Abel knew what would please God most, and he selected the best he could offer to God. His offering was a demonstration that he knew what God wanted most, and his offering reflected that.
Cain’s offering showed there was something else going on in his heart toward God. It wouldn’t have mattered what Cain had brought as an offering; the issue wasn’t that God wasn’t happy with the offering. He doesn’t need an animal sacrifice any more than He needs anything we could come up with on this earth. He’s God! He is the Creator of all.
But what displeased and disappointed God was the heart behind the offering. The offering was just an external display and indicator of what was happening internally with both Cain and Abel’s hearts.
Hosea 6:6 says, “For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice; I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings.”
God isn’t looking for our most extravagant displays of offerings and sacrifice. He loves obedience, but if we are doing the right thing with the wrong heart, just doing enough to tick the boxes of religious actions, nothing about that is pleasing to God. He is longing for the heart behind it all, the heart response that shows Him that we love Him and want to do what pleases and honors Him most.
He’s looking for a faithful, pure heart who comes before Him with a spirit of humility and repentance. He’s looking for what’s real and genuine, not routine and rote; faithfulness, not optics.
When we have a heart posture that is honoring and humble, we are telling the Lord, “It’s an honor to do what pleases You most, because You are worthy of all I have to offer, and so much more.”
We speak God’s love language when we come before Him with beautiful, faithful, pure, humble hearts. That’s what delights God.
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