“…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. 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 rule over it.” – Genesis 4:5-7 (NIV)

I think sometimes we sympathize with Cain in this brief excerpt from his story. He brought an offering that was not pleasing to the Lord. We’re not sure how long sacrifices and offerings had been made, but it was obviously long enough that people knew the protocol. He probably worked really hard at planting and reaping those crops, and we can imagine his disappointment when it wasn’t what God wanted.

But it becomes obvious very quickly that the problem was not with what Cain was offering, but how he was offering it. Cain had a bad attitude. His heart was not in the right place, and that’s what it always comes back to.

Anyone can follow a set of rules. We can go through the motions and do everything exactly as we’ve been instructed, but if our heart is not in it, the result is less than satisfactory. And when all of our hard work doesn’t pay off, or the product is unacceptable, we can get angry and even blame others.

Have you ever worked at a job or been in a relationship where it seems that nothing you do is good enough? It’s extremely painful and difficult, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why it’s so important to understand that Salvation is not based on the things we do, or how good we are. Rather, it’s based solely on what Jesus did and how absolutely good He is.