There were once two men, Mr Kane and Mr Abel. They were cousins. Both men were very artistic. Mr Kane made beautiful sculptures, Mr Abel was a painter.
One day, Abel decided that he wanted to give something back to God. He had believed and trusted in God since he was a boy, he attended church every Sunday and spent some time each day praying, trying to live how God wanted him to. He decided to paint a beautiful portrait. He knew that he could not give the actual painting to God, but he could give some of the money to the church, to be used to help those in need and to pay for those who used their time telling others about God.
So, he went to his attic and found the best quality canvas that he had. He spent time, sketching his painting on rough paper, then carefully began to apply paint to the canvas. It took many months to paint. Sometimes he made a mistake and he had to wait for the paint to dry before he could paint over it. He painted a young Dutch girl, standing with her broom. It was a beautiful painting.
When it was finally finished and dry, Abel went to have it framed. He bought the best frame that he could afford, the one that best suited his portrait. Then, when it was finished, he stepped back and admired his work. It was probably the best painting he had ever produced. He was very tempted to keep it, it would look very nice in his lounge, where all his friends and prospective customers would see it. But he had decided that this painting was a gift, to show his love for God. So he wrapped it carefully in a thick blanket, took it in his car and showed it to an art dealer in town. The dealer hummed and hawed but gave Abel a good price.
The very next Sunday, Mr Abel was in church. When the collection plate came round, he carefully placed an envelope containing a cheque onto the plate. It was his offering. The best that he could do.
The plate was then passed to Mr Kane. Mr Kane had also been busy. He had created a beautiful sculpture that month, which he hoped to sell for a lot of money. He was hoping to buy a new car. When the offering plate was passed to him, he scrabbled around quickly in his pocket. It would look bad if he didn’t put something in, people might think he wasn’t doing his bit, might think he was mean. He pulled out a heap of change. There were some pound coins there and some fluff and a dirty hanky. Picking out the fluff and hanky, Kane put the coins on the plate. Then he sat, feeling smug, he had done what was required.
Now, God was watching those men. When he saw Kane’s offering he frowned, said, “No thanks, I don’t need your afterthought, your left-overs.”
When he saw Abel’s offering he smiled and accepted the spirit in which it had been given. God is God.
Thank you for reading. This is a variation on the story in Genesis. So often we bring to God the dregs of our lives. We pray when we’re tired from the day, we take cheap biscuits when it’s our turn to do coffee at church (because after all, it’s ‘only church’.) We give what is left over from our money, the bits we wont miss. This story teaches us that actually, God is God. Nothing we can bring is good enough. But we should always bring our best because that shows the place that we give to God in our lives. If we give God our leftovers, God who actually needs nothing from us, then God is very likely to say, “No thanks.”
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