Aretha Franklin said that all she was askin’ for was a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Rodney Dangerfield was always saying, “I don’t get no respect!” It is something that everyone wants from everyone else: respect. But what about respect from God? Do we crave and seek the respect that can come to us from God Himself?
There is an interesting statement made about Abel and Cain in Genesis 4. These two sons of Adam and Eve brought an offering to the Lord, and the Lord’s dissimilar response to these two offerings is recorded in verses 4 and 5: “The Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” The Lord respected one man and his worship; and the Lord did not respect the other man and his worship. What was the difference?
If there is any respect available on this earth for which we ought to strive daily, it is the unequaled respect that we can have from heaven. We can have the respect of God? How can we be extended the regard and respect of God? The fact that we need it is unquestioned; the fact that we can receive it is extraordinary; the fact that we must have it requires our utmost attention.
The Lord Himself explains to us the difference between Abel’s offering and Cain’s offering. We are not left to surmise or wonder about it. In Hebrews 11:4, we have the divine commentary on Genesis 4. “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts …” The difference between Abel’s accepted (respected) offering and Cain’s unaccepted (unrespected) offering was “faith.” Abel made his offering “by faith,” and evidently, Cain did not. But what does that mean?
How was Abel’s offering “by faith?” Does that mean it was just his best guess, or he believed in his offering more than Cain believed in his? No. To understand an action done “by faith,” we need to know the origin of faith. Paul stated in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Abel’s offering, to which God had respect, was done by faith, which came when he heard the instructions of God in His Word.
Put this together, and we see how we can also be the recipients of heaven’s respect. First we must hear the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Next we must have a receptive heart that believes the Word (Romans 10:9-14). Then that faith must act (Acts 2:37-2:38, 41; James 2:14-26). It must obey (Romans 1:5; 16:26). It must do what the Word says (James 1:22-25). This is the only way to receive the respect of God, and it is the only way to continue to receive the respect of God as we offer our lives to Him daily.