Lessons from Abel the Teenager:
While Abel's story seems sad and short, he had a number of lessons to teach us about offering and righteousness. Hebrews 11:4 reminds us, "It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith." (NIV). Studying Abel's short life reminds us:
- God sees it all. There is no hiding anything from God. Cain learned this lesson the hard way when God confronted him after killing Abel. God knows what we do, what's in our hearts, what we think, say, and more. We can try to lie to God, but he knows otherwise. We may be ashamed of our sins, but there is no reason to hide them from God. Instead, we need to understand the cleansing nature of confession and how important it is to put effort into overcoming temptations.
- How we offer worship matters. Worship isn't just singing songs or reading our Bibles. True worship of God comes from inside our hearts. Abel's worship came from a pure place of faith. An offering wasn't just an obligation to Abel, it came from a place of love for God. It came from a place of honesty and truth in his heart. Just giving to God "because we're supposed to," doesn't come from a place of love, but of fear.
- God doesn't ignore us. Sure, it may seem like God isn't there sometimes, but He's never ignoring what we do. Abel worked a labor of love, which was noticed by God. Meanwhile, Cain had anger and jealousy in his heart, which was definitely not ignored. We may not always realize God is there, because His response to what we do isn't always instant. Sometimes it takes days, weeks, or years to see the results of what we do.
- Actions speak louder than words. Abel's actions were deemed more righteous than Cain's, because he did the right thing coming from the right place in his heart. While faith is the way to God, and the way to salvation, we are still called to turn that faith into action. Whether it's doing things for others via outreach or evangelism or spending time in the Word, we are called to an active faith. We are also called to pay attention to how others view our actions. People look to us to be examples of our faith, and when we show bad behavior we give a bad impression of Christians to others.
- Popularity isn't the key to anything. High school is full of popularity contests. Adults always try to remind us that popularity isn't as important as we make it to be in school (easier to say than to deal with day-to-day, though). In God's eyes, the adults are right. Being Prom Queen or starting quarterback means nothing in God's eyes. God loves us as we are, for the person He created us to be. We can be pleasing to God, no matter what group we hang out with in school.