Raising Cain

Raising Cain

Genesis 4:1-16

Pastor Adam Mallett, Jr.

Adapted from sermon by

Pastor Gary DarDar, Jr.

Worship is a concept that is as misunderstood as it is critical to a right relationship with God. Denominations exist, in part, as a result of people who felt that worship should be done differently than how someone else worshiped. I grew up in a very somber church environment. In fact, it took a while before I stoped cringing every time someone shouted “Amen!” once I began attending River Of Life! Different styles of worship are okay. Different people express their praise towards God in different ways. Some people are less demonstrative than others, and that is okay, too. Sometimes, the manner in which I worship depends on the day. There is a time for being demonstrative and a time for being reserved. A time for being boisterous and a time for being somber. Worship looks different from one church to another, from one person to another, from one service to another. Worship is a beautiful thing! And it is a necessary thing! Despite the variety of ways we see people worship, there are some things about worship that are set in stone. God calls us to certain standards in regards to our worship!

We see in Genesis that Cain and Abel worshiped in different ways. They both offered up a kind of sacrifice, but the materials offered were different. More than that, we can infer from the rest of Cain’s story that his motivation for offering his sacrifice did not line up with God’s requirements for worship. Wen we worship, we are offering something to God. Whether it is offering our time by serving, offering our devotion by singing, or offering our money by giving, worship requires us to sacrifice something for the sake of the Kingdom. Many people misunderstand exactly what worship is, but it is important for us to get it right! Cain set the example for what improper worship results in, and our God is deserving of our best efforts!

Your worship on Sunday, as the church is gathered to sing and hear the Word, consists of familiar actions, movements, thoughts, sights, and sounds. We sing, play music, clap, raise our hands, move our feet, and other things that we probably don’t do anywhere other than church. When you are worshiping on Sunday morning, what are you offering to God? If I were to ask, “who are you worshiping,” you would simply say that you are worshiping God. (Though, that might not always be true.) But the question, “what are we offering in our worship,” is a tough one to answer. As I already mentioned, there are things that we do that are familiar to the typical American church, in one form or another. What are those things to God? Raised hands, clapping, Amen’s, singing; these don’t enrich God or add to His greatness! I would challenge you to spend some time before God, asking Him to help you understand yourself. What are you attempting to offer God when you sing and praise? Are you offering your talents? Your singing ability? Your fantastic sense of rhythm demonstrated through expert clapping? While those things are wonderful, that’s not what God is concerned with. Our great God calls us to worship, by use of our bodies, for the purpose of our hearts being aligned with His. He is calling us to offer ourselves. Not just an ability or block of time. He wants us! He wants all of us! He desires for us to submit ourselves in obedience to Him, and, when we are faithful to do so, that is what He calls worship. That true worship might be physically expressed, but Jesus made it clear that worship is primarily a spiritual matter. We worship in spirit and in truth, which may well require some physical movement or exertion! But it always requires our hearts.

I asked a question earlier that I’d like to touch on briefly. Who are you worshiping on Sunday mornings? Again, you would most likely answer very quickly, saying that you are worshiping God! Yet, that is not always true. I’m the “worship leader” of our church, and I can’t say that I only ever worship God on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I pick songs that I like, that I think I do a great job at, or that I think will have a powerful emotional effect during the service. Whenever I allow myself to make decisions such as these, I am not worshiping God! I am worshiping me! Whenever I go to a Christian concert and find myself fixated on what gear the band members are using, I am worshiping me, or maybe even the band! Whenever my focus is on anything other than God, I am not worshiping God. We were created to worship. Worship is our primary function! If I am not worshiping God, I am worshiping something else! 

We must be careful to worship God appropriately on Sunday mornings. Our attention must be on Him, His Word, and His Will. We must sing to Him, clap our hands in honor of His greatness, etc. God is worthy to be praised, and He deserves every second of our worship! In fact, our worship cannot be limited to only Sunday. If the only time we ever worship is on Sunday, then, really, we are never worshiping at all! Worship is meant to be a lifestyle. That’s why Romans 12 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. We are alive every day that we aren’t dead, so then we must worship every day! Sunday isn’t the only day for it! We worship by singing and praising, but also by working, serving, evangelizing, and testifying. Worship ought to extend far beyond Sunday. But, often, it doesn’t. Worship often gets left in church, even by those who are holier than we might be!

There are many reasons why we neglect to worship every day, but I would like to talk about your specific reasons! Every one of us has excuses as to why we neglect to worship. I know I do! Excuses are never good! Excuses never cut it! God knows perfectly what we are up to, and He is completely aware of our schedules. So when we offer excuses instead of sacrifice, we deserve nothing less than to be treated exactly as Cain was! Whether we feel too busy or too tired, we must remember that God has given us the time we have, and it is enough. God has given us the capacity for work that we have, and it is enough. However, we sometimes add too much to our schedules, or add the wrong things to our schedules, which leaves us tired and exhausted from all the unnecessary work that is distracting us from God! Maybe you figure you’ll just get to it later. But maybe you’ll die before later ever comes! Maybe, like me, you get distracted very easily. But, like me, you have probably just allowed God to become too “familiar” or “routine,” forgetting just how glorious and majestic He is! 

Whatever your reasons, I suggest that you find time this week to worship God in a simple, personal, intimate way, trusting that He will meet you where you are and honor your sacrifice. Don’t worship with your excess stuff! Worship as a sacrifice, offering your full attention and obedience, trusting that God will help you align your heart with His. He is worthy of all our praise and worship, so let’s give Him our best!

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