November 30, 2007

I cannot pass the buck or fake it

Yesterday a woman talked about the irresponsibility so common in many people. She didn’t understand how someone who “wasn’t raised that way” could constantly blame-shift, even be blind to any personal responsibility for whatever was obviously her own doing.

I’m reading this morning in Genesis 4 and once again am taking back to the first sins committed after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. When He questioned him, Adam blamed Eve but also God when he said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Even blamed “The serpent (who) deceived me.” Human irresponsibility began very early.

Adam and Eve were cast from the garden and no doubt learned important lessons from this harsh failure. However, the Bible teaches that sin passed from them to “all people” and it shows up in their sons.

Cain and Abel both knew to honor God by bringing Him a sacrifice. Verses 3-5a say:
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.”
It’s been argued that the sacrifice Cain brought was not an animal and therefore unacceptable. However, this offering, called a “minkhāh” was later part of the Law and an offering of gratitude and dedication. It could be an animal or a basket of food, so this seems an unlikely reason for God’s displeasure with Cain’s offering.

Verses 5-7 continue and hint at a more plausible reason. They say:
“So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’”
Cain’s reaction to God says a great deal about his heart. Instead of being God-focused and concerned that he did the right thing, Cain was pouting and took no responsibility for what he was doing. Yet, God saw into his heart and knew that no matter what he gave, Cain had a bad attitude. It wasn’t the offering that was at fault; it was the person. His heart was not in it.

A few weeks ago we heard a speaker at a lunch meeting related to my husband’s work. In the beginning his microphone was not what he’d asked for and it took a few minutes to get the right one and make it work properly. He then gave an excellent presentation. The next day he gave another one to the same group, but first he apologized. He said that his speech was correct but he wasn’t. He’d been angry about the microphone and asked the group to forgive him for having a bad attitude—an attitude that no one had discerned.

Even though I was incredible impressed with this man’s integrity, I’ve taught Sunday school that way, gave gifts that looked generous on the surface, smiled and been polite on the telephone, performed a host of so-called good deeds that seemed okay, but my heart was not in it. I may have been upset with something or someone, or just unthankful and out of sorts with God. Admitting it may have happened a few times, but that admission does not come easily. I’d far rather blame things like lack of sleep or others who annoy me.

Genesis 4 points out that I cannot get away with that particularly when I worship God. He looks at the heart, and any offering made to Him and for Him cannot be done with a superficial piousness. He sees right through it. He wants my heart to be fully engaged.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). If I am going to be a blessing to God and to others, I cannot fake it.

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