Yesterday our Bible lesson was on Hebrews 11. It’s a familiar passage, one I’ve read many times, and yet this time, verse 4 came to life in a totally new light.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4
So then I turned to the original passage in Genesis 4 to see exactly what it said.
And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:2-7
Cain “brought an offering”, Abel “brought of the firstlings”. The difference between Cain and Abel was that Cain gave a gift, Abel gave his best.
I’m currently in the middle of writing our next script. And thought I’m super excited about it, there have been plenty of times these past weeks and months when I’ve wanted to pull my hair out. The problem is that with each movie, we raise the bar. We’re not content to just make movies, we want to push ourselves and give the very best we have to offer. But sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I want to give up and just finish it and shoot it and be done with it. And it could be a perfectly good movie with a good Christian message that would have a positive impact. But this passage reminds me that God doesn’t want us to settle and make good movies. He wants us to give Him our very best and make great movies.
But what constitutes a great movie? Some experts say a movie should be judged by how much profit it makes. Others say it can’t be a great movie unless it has a theatrical release. Still others judge it by the awards or accolades it receives or what the critics have to say about it. These are all wonderful worldly barometers. But I say God looks at the heart of the filmmaker and judges accordingly.
42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12: 42-44
God has blessed us each with different levels of talents and resources. For some filmmakers, a big budget blockbuster hit will be a Cain offering. For others, a micro budget short that is never distributed and is only seen by a small audience will be an Abel offering. All we can do is take the gifts that God has given us, use them to the best of our abilities, and offer them to God with our humblest of hearts. The key is in offering our finest first fruits rather than our leftovers. We need to strive for excellence and though we’ll surely fall short, it doesn’t keep us from stretching and reaching. We write and rewrite, get critiques, and write some more. We plan ahead and take our time to get the best footage we can afford with the equipment, crew, and talent that we have. We edit, get feedback, and edit again. And only after we’ve done everything in our power to make it the best possible, do we give it to God as our sacrificial offering to use for His glory. And then perhaps our work will be like Abel’s, to continue to speak to people for years to come. “And though he is dead, he still speaks”.