If your life were summed up in one sentence, what would it be? A question question posed by Warren W. Wiersbe’s Life Sentences: What Sentence Will Sum Up Your Life?. In it Wiersbe Steps To Get Your Ex Back With You summarizes 63 lives from the Bible in one sentence each. Here’s his summary, and somewhat surprising reflection, on Abel:
Abel - By faith he was commended as a righteous man. -Hebrews 11:4
The most important thing in life isn’t what we think about ourselves or what others think about us, but what God thinks about us. He is the final Judge. When He examines and evaluates our motives, words, and actions, are we commended, as was Abel, or are we condemned, as was his brother Cain? “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at,” God told the prophet Samuel. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
The difference between Cain and Abel
Why did Cain murder his brother? “Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:12)… By using the plural “offerings,” Hebrews 11:4 may suggest that [God gave his approval] each time Abel came to the altar; and perhaps each time Cain noticed it, he became angrier and more resentful. What a tragedy to come to worship God and then go away filled with thoughts of murder!
Had you questioned Cain, you probably would have discovered that his theology was fairly sound. He believed in God and believed that God had created all things. He believed that God wanted to receive worship and thanksgiving. He believed that he and his brother were supposed to work and carry their share of the family burdens. But the demons believe in one God, and they aren’t saved; and when they think about God, they tremble — something Cain didn’t do (James 2:19). That’s why James added, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).
Dead faith is deceptive faith, but it doesn’t fool God. True saving faith makes the believer into a new creation, with a new Master, new motives, new priorities, and new desires to love God and one’s neighbor. Jesus called Abel “righteous Abel” (Matt. 23:35), and John said that Abel’s actions were righteous, so in both character and conduct, he proved to be a righteous man.
Is life meaningless? On the death of Abel and the victory of Christ
The name Abel (hebel) means “vanity” or “meaninglessness.” It’s the same word Solomon used in Ecclesiastes at least thirty-eight times. One of my seminary professors defined hebel as “what’s left over after a soap bubble breaks.” Why Adam and Eve chose that name for their second son is a mystery; perhaps life had become meaningless for them in the cruel world, especially when they recalled the delightful days they had spent in Eden.
But Abel’s life and death were not meaningless or a tragic waste, for Abel is associated with the Lord Jesus Christ. As believers, we have come “to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:24). While Abel’s blood cried out from the ground for God to avenge his death, the blood of Jesus speaks from heaven of mercy and forgiveness, for His blood has obtained eternal redemption for all who will believe on Him (Heb. 9:12). Abel died as a martyr, but Jesus died as a victor and arose again to ascend to glory.
Paul’s great desire was that Christ be exalted in his body “whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). And it was Paul who gave us 1 Corinthians 15, that great resurrection chapter, which climaxes with this marvelous assurance: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58).
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless,” scoffed King Solomon at the opening of Ecclesiastes. Life is hebel from start to finish!
“Not so!” said Paul. “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain!”
Christ has been resurrected and glorified. Abel has been vindicated.
-From Life Sentences by Warren Wiersbe
Learn more about Life Sentences: What Sentence Will Sum Up Your Life? by Warren Wiersbe.
Q: IOn a scale from 1 to 5, how difficutl ‘d like to repeat those words of Paul: “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” What is a good reason to know.
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