Shepherd and Sower - Farmer and Rancher
I’d rather be a shepherd than a sower, a rancher rather than a farmer. Farmers like Cain seem to work so hard that it makes them mean. Ranchers may be looked down on jealously and even called lazy, but God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected his brother’s. Why?
God knows that roasted meat smells better than roasted fruit or grain! But seriously, why was Abel’s offering accepted and Cain’s rejected?
Was it about the attitude of the heart? Abel humbly cared for his animals. Sure he probably spent time in the heat of the day catching a siesta under his hat in the shade of a tree on a bluff in the breeze looking down occasionally on the green valley below.
Picture Cain seething, tilling the soil in the scorching sun. All the hotter because of his rage that Abel did not have to work as hard, and in a hurry to plant before the rain fell at the wrong time. Cain feeds on fury and fear.
In Mongolian winter Abel would wake up to snow, and his work continues. He feeds the animals out of the fodder he has stored up. He travels out to search for water, to break the ice, finds the flock home before dark.
Cain, however can rest easy, his crop already harvested and safely stored. He can travel to distant warmer lands. He can sleep in or rise and watch the shepherds go out into the cold winter mornings and nights, to watch and guard against wolves. Soon he starts to get restless, feels lazy, himself, starts to get fat and sinks into self-loathing. He complains about the weather, and can’t wait to get back into the fields, forgetting their heat.
Abel will meekly overlook the stares and glares of his older brother. He will humbly herd his animals to green pasture and still waters and see them give birth and gain each spring. Like a tortoise racing a hare, Abel in the end proves faithful and able with what was entrusted to him. So he offers a portion of his flock, his best, to the Lord who gives the increase. And the Father and Lord of his soul, the Creator of all, is smiling and pleased.
God’s favor rested on Abel, but His wrath remains on Cain, whose jealous anger made him a murderer, coward, slave to fear, and a wanderer.
I’d rather be a tortoise than a hare. Turtles live longer. I’d rather be a shepherd than a sower, a rancher than farmer. Meat and milk tastes better than bread alone. Humble honest work over the long haul yields a better gain than hot and hasty hurry, sweating in the sun and cursing the dry.
Better still, Abel and I wish the farmer and the rancher could be friends.
This is only possible when each of them can in the words of Galatians: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” (6:4)
How do you test your actions? Seek God, consider his thoughts, and let him into yours. He knows them and your attitude and motivation anyway. If your motivation is to seek and please him, he will know it and bless and accept you. If both offerings are accepted by God, the three of you can sit down and enjoy a meal of meat, vegetables, bread, and butter!
A better meal than bread and water, or meat and milk alone, pleasing God is much more satisfying than the contentious curse of constant competition.