"Now Abel kept the flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering - fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast." Genesis 4:2-5 (NIV)
When my sons were young, they were preoccupied with a desire to please their father. From what they were wearing to how they performed in their classes and on the basketball court, their priority was to have the approval of Dad. They had me in the palms of their hands!
That seems to be the attitude that Abel had toward God - a desire to please God more than a desire to please himself. And his desire to please God is what caused God to "look with favor on Abel and his offering." By giving God the good stuff - the fat portions - the parts of his flock that everyone would want - Abel received such favor from God that it literally drove his brother Cain crazy and ultimately cost him his life. Although Cain lived longer, Abel's legacy is much larger.
Favor from God is a response to those He can trust to make Him their priority. When we put God first, God's favor elevates us in ways that may drive others crazy. But if our goal is to please God with all that we have and do, then what others think or how others respond becomes irrelevant. Perhaps God would be willing to help us get more if God were convinced that we would behave like Abel - give back to God the best portion of our blessing.
Cain seemed to have God on his agenda while for Abel, God was the agenda. Cain got so angry at God's response to his brother that he committed the first murder and killed his own brother. Abel had done nothing to prevent Cain to be just as favored by God as he had been. But Cain ignored his opportunity, took out his anger on Abel and will always be remembered for being the world's first murderer.
This tragic story reminds us to seek financial blessings so we can do more for the God who provides our blessings. If our motives are right, our rewards will be incredible.
"God, I have a list of things that I want and need. But help me remember to put you first and to honor you with my blessings. Amen."