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A main reason we gather at the house of God is to worship God. Of course, we come to be edified and to fellowship and to be equipped for service as well. But a primary reason for our gathering is to worship God.
But what constitutes acceptable worship?
The main word used in the New Testament for worship is the word is προσ-κυνεω (PROS-ku-NE-oh). It’s basic meaning is “to do reverence to.” That’s what worship is all about; acts of reverence to God. Our worship normally involves singing, giving, praying, and hearing the Word of God.
Some churchgoers, however, are just going through the motions when they do these acts of worship. Some do that intentionally while others do so of ignorance. The end result is the same because they do not worship God in truth.
The first act of worship recorded in the Bible involves Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. This biblical account underscores an important point about acceptable worship and unacceptable worship.
One day Cain took of the fruit of his field and offered it to the Lord (Genesis 4:3). Abel also made an offering to God from the firstlings of his flock (verse 4).
Whenever I read about this, I find it interesting that they did what they did. In other words, at least in the Scriptures, we don’t see any evidence that God told Cain and Able to do this. It’s as if it was intrinsic to their nature to do so. One of the reasons God has created us is to worship Him. Because of that I believe we have an innate tendency to worship.
Anyway, God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. Cain was angry about the rejection (verse 5). I am not sure what sign God gave Cain to let him know He had rejected his offering. Whatever it was, it was communicated to Cain in such a way that he knew it and he became angry.
So, we ask ourselves, why was that? Is God a respecter of persons? We know that’s not the case. Did God have a problem with what Cain was offering? No, both of their offerings were good.
This is a relevant question for us to ponder because the same thing happens in church each week as people attend public worship. That is; God regards one person’s acts of worship as acceptable but rejects the same of another person.
What was the problem?
“If thou doest well, shalt not thou be accepted?” God asked Cain (verse 7). In other words, Cain, If you do what’s right, your offering will be accepted also. So, now Cain knows what he needs to do to experience acceptable worship.
How did Cain respond? He rose up against his brother Abel and killed him (verse 8).
Wow! If you had never read this biblical account before, you would not have seen that coming. Remember, Cain was angry that God did not accept his offering as if he really cared. And now he goes and kills his own brother.
Remember that God told Cain if he did well, his offering would be accepted also. Up until the point God said those words to Cain, nothing in the Scriptures suggested that he was a wicked man. But when God says if you do well, your offering will be accepted; clearly, God knew Cain was a wicked man.
The point is that others may not know what’s going on but God always knows. And Cain’s problem exploded into something ugly and deadly—he killed his own brother.
The difference between Cain and Able was that Cain was a child of the devil and Abel was righteous (1 John 3:12). Cain was doing the same thing many churchgoers do today. They don’t know the Lord but they go through the rituals of worshiping Him. But as we can see, this is not acceptable worship.
Copyright © 2021 by Frank King. All rights reserved.