Beautiful Work (Genesis 4)

MOTIVATE

Expectations. Whether or not you realize or admit to it, everyone has expectations.

–          Spouses have expectations for one another. Husbands expect a wife to be always attractive; wives expect men with little back hair… hey, women were created to “help” men, so they know there isn’t much to work with! Seriously, expectations are huge in marriage and failed expectations is the source of conflict and separation.

–          Parents have expectations for children to obey. Children have expectations for parents to not be lame. Some things never change. The reality is when children grow up and be parents they realize being lame is something parents do for entertainment.

–          Everyone has expectations… including God!

  • Review Genesis 1 – 2.
    • God brought woman to man for one flesh union and to be his image bearers (Gen 1:27, 2:24).
    • God created humanity to be fruitful and to rule (Gen 1:28).
    • God placed Adam in a garden to provide and protect it (Gen 2:15).

 

EXAMINE           What does God expect of us today? Ultimately it’s worship!

God expects our worship.

The ultimate purpose for your existence is not about having your own expectations met, desires fulfilled or dreams come true. It is to magnify your Creator – to make much of Him and display His greatness as one of His image bearers.

 

Genesis 4             4 areas of worship

  1. 1.       Legacy

A first area God expects us to worship Him is in the area of legacy. Adam & Eve have intimacy and produce children. The gain two sons: Cain and Abel. Eve remarks, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” She thinks that her offspring has come to redeem hers and Adam’s sin. God promised that one of their future offspring would crush the serpent’s influence and bring victory (Gen 3:15). Eve is hopeful to achieve such a legacy immediately.

 

God expects believers today to leave a godly legacy. This is true whether in procreation or in service toward others.

“And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless…” (Malachi 2:15)

“For the promise [of salvation] is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39).

 

How do we leave a legacy? Like Eve, we must realize a godly legacy takes two elements:

1a) Investment. Many of us want godly legacy without the commitment and work. We want godly children but we want the school, church, daycare, television and the world to do all the parenting. We want a great children & youth ministry in the church but we don’t want to volunteer or properly resource it. We want a godly reputation without godly character; a godly testimony without the trials, testing and temptation that brings it. [no testing – no testimony].

ð       Commit with a long-term perspective. There are no short-cuts to spiritual growth or spiritual legacies.

 

1b) Fertile response. There are times when an investment has been made but the recipient (person or place) is either not ready to receive the investment or they reject the investment.

ð       Pray. Prayer is the trusting of God with the areas of our life that we can never control.

2.       Work.

A second area God expects us to worship Him is in our vocation. Cain and Abel grew as men and got jobs. Cain became a gardener (keeper of ground) and Abel a shepherd. Of course, these were both normal and good jobs during this time. As men, they were following in their father’s footsteps but even more, following their God-designed intention to be providers and protectors.

One of the misnomers about the Christian faith is that only those who work for or in the church are those who serve God. In other words, the average everyday congregational member who works at a “secular” job has little to no kingdom value or spiritual purpose. The Biblical picture is different in that our work is an act of worship, regardless if it is inside or outside the church.[1] God gave us the idea and ability to work before the Fall (Genesis 2:15) and this action was cursed after the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19). Even more today, the idea of work is still God’s command for His people:

Work Wholeheartedly

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

Work not Idleness

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Sabbath Rest

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2-3

 

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea , and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17

 

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:8-10

 

3.       Giving/Responding

A third area God expects us to worship is through giving. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering from their work; Cain of the fruit of the ground, Abel the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. Cain is often chastised for his offering (for various reasons which we will examine in the next two areas) but do not miss that even Cain understood that God expected an offering to be brought before God in worship.

Many want to worship God but when they realize that includes giving and responding to Him with their life and obedience they balk. We say, “God, why should I give you my time, talent and treasure? Why 10%?” Then God says, “Who said it was yours? And why should I give you 90%?”

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work.” 2Corinthians 9:6-8

 

–    Giving with Attitude (4:5-7)

How you give matters as much as what you give. Cain’s offering was rejected by God and as a result he became angry. His angry attitude came as a result of a sinful heart. God’s rejecting of the offering was not a rejection of Cain – He confronted Cain’s sinful disposition saying “sin is crouching at the door, its desire is for you but you must rule over it”. In other words, “Cain, if you do not deal with this sin through repentance and faith then it will grow into something larger.” Depression, anger, and bitterness are sinful seeds in our heart to unwanted circumstances. We are called to train our response toward God with humility not prideful hostility.

Pastor Chuck Swindoll says, “The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

“God loves a cheerful giver”

Psalm 51:16-17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

–    Giving with Selflessness (4:8-9)

Why you give matters as much as what you give. Cain’s response to God’s rejection of his offering was to murder his brother. He viewed Abel as competition rather than with compassion. Cain had no regard or felt no sense of responsibility for others.

Our giving toward God should not be done with a competitive pride or to earn the favor of another. It should be out of a sense of humility for what God has provided in our life that we give to others.

–    Giving with Faith

Ultimately, Cain’s sin was not that he was empty handed but empty hearted. His heart was filled with pride and self rather than grace and God. After God’s judgment he realized the gravity of his sin. His sin pushed him away from God, as with his parents Adam & Eve.

But… the Lord gave grace as with the parents. God put a mark on Cain to protect him, settled him in a city, blessed him with a child, Enoch. Adam & Eve were blessed with another son, Seth – another offspring they hoped would bring salvation. Indeed, people would call upon the name of the Lord. This is faith and worship; God’s intention for mankind.

 

APPLY/THINK

Genesis 4:26 “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”

–          What time? The time when people were prideful, rebellious, murderers, polygamists, advancing in technology, marriage and city life – realizing that they can fill their lives with so much but still be empty, needing God!

Hebrews 11:4-6 “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith, Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Hebrews 12:24-29 But you have come to “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven… Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

As Abel’s blood cries out and speaks… so does Jesus Christ’s! BELIEVE!


[1] For a introductory biblical understanding of “work” see Bob Thune’s 4-part article http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/03/20/what-are-you-called-to-do-a-theology-of-work/

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