Not too long ago DMI Dave said he was going to start putting up something devotional on Sundays. I like the idea, but this is as devotional a post as I could come up with for today.
The Lord commanded Cain to offer the â€œfirstlings of their flocks for an offering unto the Lordâ€ (Moses 5:5). You might expect that Satan would come along and tell Cain not to do it. Instead, Satan â€œcommanded [Cain], saying: Make an offering unto the Lordâ€ (Moses 5:18). Rare agreement between God and Satan. Seem strange? Read onâ€¦
We get some hints as to why Satan may have wanted Cain to make an offering as the story unfolds.
Cain did finally make an offering, but the Lord didnâ€™t accept it. Where did Cain go wrong? Many have supposed it was Cainâ€™s offering of fruit, as opposed to Abelâ€™s blood offering, that made the offering unacceptable, but this does not appear to be the case. The law of sacrifice given to Adam in the Garden of Eden included both the â€œfirstfruits of the fieldâ€ as well as the â€œfirstlings of the flock.â€ Both types of offerings were later part of the Mosaic Law (Deut 18:4; Num 18:8-14).
While Abel â€œbrought of the firstlings of his flock,â€ Cain merely â€œbrought of the fruit of the groundâ€ (Moses 5:19). Notice that Cain offered â€œfruitâ€ rather than â€œfirstfruit.â€ It appears that Cain offered left-overs instead of offering his best. Joseph Smith said that â€œCain also being authorized to offer sacrifice but not offering it in righteousness, therefore he was cursed.â€ Cecil Hook astutely pointed out that the Lord was judging the men, not the offerings. The scripture reads, â€œAnd the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering, but unto Cain, and to his offering he had not respectâ€ (Moses 5:20-21). Notice that the emphasis is on the man, not the offering. Cainâ€™s offering was rejected because he did not offer in righteousness; he did not offer his best. As the Psalmist wrote, â€œThe sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intentâ€ (Prov. 21:27).
Satanâ€™s overall strategy becomes clear with what follows. When Cain found out the Lord rejected his offering he â€œwas very wrothâ€ (Moses 5:21). â€œAnd Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord (Moses 5:26). As soon as Cainâ€™s offering was rejected his pride prompted him to reject the Lord in return. Once Cain rejected the Lord, Satan was right there to step in and take the place of God. Within just three verses, Satan is already making his own dark covenants with Cain. Making an unacceptable offering was actually more detrimental than offering no sacrifice at all because it set Cain up for rebellion instead of simple disobedience.
I wish I could say I have never fallen into this trap myself. We all have those times when we know we are supposed to do something but we just donâ€™t feel like it. I remember many days in which that thing was tracting. Unfortunately, I can remember some days where I offered left-overs. I can picture myself trying to make it through another day of tracting, going about it in a grudging sort of fashion, reminding myself often of what a sacrifice it was, then wondering at the end of the day why I was not happy and why I was not being blessed. Not an introspective sort of wondering, but a â€œGod owes me blessingsâ€ sort of wondering. â€œWhere are they, letâ€™s have them.â€ Of course, I got the same answer that Cain did. God could not accept my offering any more than he could accept Cainâ€™s. I had not offered God my best, my firstfruits, my broken heart.
At that point, I faced the same temptation Cain faced. My pride told me to reject the Lord if he would not accept my offering. I didnâ€™t have to be serving a mission anyway. My instinct was to say, â€œWell, if my offering is not good enough I just wonâ€™t offer.â€ In offering an unacceptable offering, I had produced a justification for my underlying desire all along, which was to simply disobey. If Cain had started off by following Satan, without first making an offering to the Lord, he would always have known that he was the one responsible for leaving the Lord. Once his offering had been rejected he could always pretend (and I suspect he convinced himself) that it was God who had rejected him, not he who had rejected God. We play the same game on a smaller scale.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. (Moroni 7:8)
So what are we to do when God asks us to do something but we donâ€™t feel like doing it? It appears from what I have stated above that we are damned if we do and damned if we donâ€™t. Is that true?
Have you ever been worse off for offering a gift grudgingly than if you had not offered at all?
 Ehat, Andrew F.; and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary
Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Provo and Salt Lake City, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, and Bookcraft 1980. pg. 52, note 12.
 The Words of Joseph Smith. pg. 40-41
 Hook, Cecil. Free as Sons. http://www.freedomsring.org/fas/chap4.html