Beyond Best
When Cain and Abel brought their offerings to God, Abelís pleased God; Cainís offering did not. He gave out of his own labor in the fields. The produce he brought looked pretty good to him. He wanted God to be pleased with the best he had to offer. What more could God want beyond Cainís best? (Genesis 4:3-5)

I sat in a church service listening to the preacher, waiting for his point; waiting for a bit of useful information; waiting for that lift of encouragement. It never came. His diction was clear and his delivery kept me expecting something more. He was giving his best effort.

I stood in front of a small congregation trying so hard to sing with perfect technique. I was giving my best, but something was lacking. I discovered what it was when I was given the opportunity to sing in front of a crowd that seemed like the innumerable multitude. Stage fright created in me a desire to flee and hide while I was only practicing in that huge empty auditorium.

My family and friends prayed that God would give me strength to focus on doing the music and not on where I was. The morning arrived. My name was announced. I put one foot in front of the other down the aisle up the steps to the stage. I placed my music on the stand and grasped the microphone as if it were alive and trying to get away. My brain was struggling to stay conscious. The musical introduction began. I was only vaguely aware of the audience. I felt vulnerable and inadequate.

The song came out of my mouth. I allowed myself---no, it was more like I was given the ability---to reveal myself and totally trust God with the results. I learned from this experience that if I want to give beyond my best, I cannot worry about image. My focus must be on trusting God to help me do whatever I do in his service. The only way I can give what others need is to reveal the whole me not just the part that seems presentable and acceptable in public. I must risk failure and  humiliation. Only God knows what each personís need is---what I need to offer. If I offer myself as his servant, I must offer all of me, not just what I think is the best part. (I Peter 5:5-7; Philippians 2:3-5)

When Abel offered the slain animal sacrifice, he was acknowledging his best was not enough. He was acknowledging his whole life must be completely offered to God. (Galatians 2:20) He was acknowledging his effort was not enough. He was acknowledging the future Messiah, Jesus, who would take away his sins and the sins of the whole world. 

Giving our best to God is not enough. He wants the whole person dedicated fully to representing his love and way of life. He wants our weaknesses and strengths. He wants our failures and successes. In revealing the real person and not trying to hide behind an apparently perfect façade, Godís strength becomes evident. This honors him to the benefit of others who see his workmanship in his children. (Philippians 3:7-9; II Corinthians 12:7-15; 13:9)

By Scarlett Stough