17 April, 2024

Death by Faith

by | 1 July, 2023 | 0 comments

By Megan Rawlings 

It was frigid. The winter break had seemed to last forever. I had just arrived back at the Bible college campus in the rolling hills of Kentucky. My appetite for knowledge was growing. My classes that semester were mainly general education, but the Bible classes I took over those few months truly deepened my devotion to Jesus and his Word. 

I entered one particular class and sat midway back, where I would appear neither as eager as the people in front of me nor as uninterested as those behind me.  

The professor entered the room and asked, “Do you know why God accepted Abel’s gift and not Cain’s?”  

Most students in the class had attended Sunday school, so they quickly offered possible explanations, everything from “he was jealous” to “Abel gave the better offering.” 

“OK,” the teacher replied. “How do you know that?” 

“The Bible!” we yelled (just like we had done during all our years in Sunday school).  

“Show me where it says that in the Bible,” the professor challenged.  

This moment was the turning point in my life. This was the pivotal event that made me realize how much I didn’t know and motivated me to dig deeper into the Bible. 

The professor seemed to take satisfaction in watching us scour Genesis 4 to defend our answers. I’ll spare you the dramatic tension and just say the answer to the professor’s question can’t be found in Genesis. The book states that Cain did, in fact, murder Abel, but it never explains why God chose to accept Abel’s gift and not Cain’s. My mind was blown.  


It is not until the book of Hebrews in the New Testament that we learn the true reason God accepted Abel’s gift and not Cain’s: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4).  

When Abel prepared and then brought God his offering, he did so out of faith. It’s possible the reason Abel’s sacrifice was accepted as better than Cain’s was that Abel gave the best of his animals, while Cain gave merely what he had on hand. We know Abel acted in faith when he brought his offering to God, while Cain clearly lacked faith, as evidenced by the fact that God did not accept his offering. 

Cain’s insatiable appetite for blood directly resulted from the bitterness he felt after God disapproved of his gift. God warned him that sin was crouching at his door, but Cain threw all caution to the wind.  

Perhaps it was jealousy that drove Cain to murder Abel, for Abel was commended by God as righteous because of his faith. This should serve as a lesson that some people will dislike or even despise you despite your best efforts, just as Cain despised Abel and the world despised Jesus.  


James 2:26 is a familiar Bible passage for many: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” It was not enough for Abel to have had faith; he also needed to put it into action. A moral conviction in the truthfulness of God and acting on it are essential components of having faith. Simply believing in something with all your heart is not enough. We must die to ourselves and choose Jesus every day.  

Jesus issued his Great Commission shortly before ascending into heaven. Even in this, his last command, Jesus challenged Christians to put their faith into action . . . to make it a living faith. The command Jesus gave his disciples he has also given to us. We are to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded. 

I encourage you to have the faith that longs to be obedient in Christ. Don’t be jealous of others’ faithful actions, as Cain was; instead, put your own faith into action. 

Megan Rawlings

Megan Rawlings is the founder and CEO of The Bold Movement. She is an extrovert, pastor’s wife, and lover of the Scriptures.


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