A Prayer to Have a Faith That Speaks
By Maggie Meadows Cooper
Abel. Most of us know him as the second son born to Adam and Eve or the brother Cain killed. But up until recently, I admit I didn't know much else. His mention in Genesis 4 is short, so it seems that he wasn't all that significant. Until we find he is the first man worthy of being listed in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith.” And the question is, why is he there?
Hebrews 11:4 says: "It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith."
Though he's dead, he still speaks. Wow, I couldn't wait to see what he said and how it would impact my heart. But when I got to Genesis 4 and read, guess what I found? He never spoke a word. At least not any recorded in Scripture. All we have is the record of one event in his life:
"...When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected." Genesis 4:2-5
That's it. One seemingly insignificant offering to the Lord. But then, I looked back at Hebrews 11:4, and I saw it: "...he still speaks to us by his example of faith." It wasn't about the words. It was about his faith in action.
Two things we can learn from Abel are this:
1. Actions, many times, speak louder than words.
"...Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—
the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock." Gen.4:3-4
Cain gave some, but Abel gave his best: the firstborn, along with what other translations tell us were the "fat portions." Abel made a sacrifice. Cain made an offering. It was the heart behind the action that mattered, y'all. The humble action of faith Abel carried out "spoke". And that is the challenge to us today. Do our actions leave a legacy that will still be "speaking" when we are gone?
2. Doing the right thing does not go unnoticed.
"...The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you..." Gen.4:4-7
The Lord never tells us that Abel did what is right, but we can infer that from this passage. And the question is, what did he do so right that Cain did so wrong? I think we see it in Cain's reaction to the Lord's rebuke. He became angry. A humble heart is more willing to apologize and ask the Lord's forgiveness. But instead, pride took over, opening a door for Satan to gain a foothold that ultimately led to the murder of his only brother.
Abel possessed an obedient, humble heart, y'all. That heart led to the sacrifice that became the action of faith that still speaks today. May we all have the courage to act out our faith, do the right thing, and leave a legacy that speaks long after we are gone.
Thank you for Abel and his example of humility and obedience. Help me to share my faith in you, not only with my words but with my actions. Help me to have a heart willing to sacrifice the things of this world, putting you above all else.
In Your Mighty Name, Amen
Photo credit: Unsplash/Ben White
Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mom, educator, author, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book “Bumper” and blogs at The Little Moments about what the Lord is teaching her through her children and everyday life. She contributes to Blogs by Christian Women, Devotional Diva, She Disciples, and Connecting Ministries. An educator with an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University (War Eagle!), she has twenty years of experience working with young children. She loves all things chocolate, real Coca-Cola, and lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.
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Originally published Sunday, 05 March 2023.