Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Think back on the Christmas presents you have just given. Which one do you think was appreciated most by the one receiving it? What made it an especially good gift?
2. The adage that we should give until it hurts has been countered with the command to give until it feels good. For you, what makes the difference between painful giving and joyful giving?
Read Genesis 4:2-5a.
1. What was God’s evaluation of the offerings of the two brothers (vv. 4b, 5a; Hebrews 11:4)? Although a reason for this difference is not explained, how might these verses clarify the contrast: Proverbs 3:9; Leviticus 22:20, 21; Mark 12:44?
2. Some commentators look back to Genesis 3:21 to speculate that God might have previously explained what constituted an acceptable sacrifice. Explain how killing an animal to make coverings could relate to verses such as Hebrews 9:22.
3. Understanding that Cain and Abel probably would have bartered with each other for what each produced, how does the availability of animals to both change the focus from Cain’s unacceptable offering to his unacceptable attitude toward God?
Read Genesis 4:5b-9.
4. Review God’s questions to Cain in vv. 6, 7. How might Cain have answered these inquiries?
5. We usually think of sin as actions we take or refuse to take. How does the description of sin in verse 7 differ from that explanation? Explain how sin can take an active role in corrupting us (John 8:34; Acts 8:23; Romans 7:11).
Read Genesis 4:10-16.
6. Compare the situations surrounding God’s question in Genesis 3:13 and in Genesis 4:10. What curses resulted in each case? What did God do to mitigate the consequences of the curse on Cain?
7. Consider the statement, “How we give affects how we live.” Evaluate your own attitudes toward your offerings to God. What changes might happen in your life if your giving were more joyful?