“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” (Hebrews 11:4).
WE DO NOT KNOW SPECIFICALLY WHY ABEL’S OFFERING WAS MORE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD, BUT WE ARE TOLD THAT HE DID WHAT HE DID “BY FAITH.” Unlike his brother, he trusted God enough to do things God’s way — whatever that might have involved — rather than substitute his own preferences in the matter.
When we look over the entire history of God’s dealings with mankind recorded in the Scriptures, we see an interesting pattern. Whenever people have decided to follow their own inclinations, we see two differences between their way and God’s way:
(1) God’s way is more simple. Human beings have a tendency to complicate things. Our projects are usually complicated at the start, and they grow even more complex as time goes along. In contrast, God’s way of doing things is more plain and unadorned — His plan is so simple that we often see it as “simplistic.”
(2) God’s way is conducive to humility. Precisely because God’s way is more simple, it takes trust for us to believe it will work. To follow God’s instructions, we have to bow before His wisdom and rely on methods that seem insufficient, if not completely silly.
If somehow we were able to build the kingdom of God according to our own blueprint, the result would be pride — and rightly so, because the achievement would have resulted from our own wisdom. Until our house of cards came crashing down (Psalm 127:1), we possibly could have said, “Look at what we have accomplished.” But when we follow God’s plans there can never be any pride in it. His way goes against our ideas and opinions, and the honest person will always have to admit, “Well, I didn’t think such a plan would work, but I was wrong. Although I would have set things up differently, God’s way turned out to be the best.”
The wisdom of God is revealed to us today in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16,17). We should study the Scriptures with a reverent, childlike trust in our Father. Such a trust is not naive; it is based on His proven reliability. He is the God of ultimate truth and reality, and reality is a thing that requires humility on our part.
“Humility is nothing but truth, while pride is nothing but lying” (Vincent De Paul).