My Brother’s Keeper

To have an understanding of who I am you need to know one thing. I have a big brother. Every individual with a big brother can testify to the truth of the proverb, “A friend loveth at all times but a brother is born for adversity.” (Pro. 17:17).

My big brother (who considered my time asleep as a personal challenge) was the reason I woke one morning with dried toothpaste clogging my ears. My big brother was the reason I woke with my mother’s “intimate apparel” on my head. Once, on a weekend road trip, my brother extracted some “items” from his nostrils and re-deposited his findings on me as I slept. My only hope of surviving my big brother’s creativity was sleep deprivation.

When I was around eleven years old I thought my big brother and his friends were the epitome of cool. One evening, as they were going out, I begged my big brother to let me go with them. He agreed on one condition. I had to ride in the trunk.

So I did. Over every railroad track and pothole they could find, I rode in the trunk.

The relationship, defined by adversity, which exists between brothers began at the beginning with Cain and Abel. The first recorded words God spoke to men after the fall were to Cain concerning his brother (Genesis 4:6-9). The first disagreement over styles and methods of worship were between brothers. The first death was Abel’s, at the hand of his brother.

I find it interesting that God would ask Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain’s response was, “How should I know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain obviously felt that Abel was not his problem. God thought different.

God asked of Cain his brother’s whereabouts and expected of him an answer. Furthermore, when Abel’s blood cried out from the ground, it was not Adam or Eve that God inquired of the tragedy. It was Cain that God expected to be accountable for the blood of his brother.

Could the truth of the matter be that I am my brother’s keeper?

Not in the sense that I am responsible for the decisions he makes but that God sees us as a body, a family, a community that leans on and lifts up one another. In a very real way I am my brother’s keeper.

Scripture instructs us to love (Rom.13:8), serve (Gal.5:13), honor (Rom.12:10), edify (Rom.14:19), bless (Gal.6:10), pray for (James5:16), prefer (Rom.12:10), encourage (1Thess.5:11), accept (Rom.15:7), greet (Rom.16:16), agree (1Cor.1:10), forgive (Eph.4:32), submit (Eph.5:21), admonish & encourage (Col.3:16), consider (Heb.10:24), offer hospitality (1Peter4:9), live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1Pet.3:8), fellowship (1John1:7), hold in high regard (1Thess.5:15), carry each other’s burdens (Gal.6:2), and to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.2:3-5).

When I read this I’m inclined to believe that God intends for me to take my brother seriously. Especially when I consider that there isn’t one single verse in the New Testament that instructs us to pray for unbelievers. Not one. We’re told to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest. We’re told to direct our passion for the lost into prayers for our brothers in the Gospel.

But there are multiple dozens of scriptures that tell us to love one another, pray for one another, encourage, bless, edify, strengthen and prefer one another in Christ Jesus. To do good, “to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal.6:10, ESV).” It might just be that I am my brother’s keeper.

Romans 13:8-10, (ESV) instructs:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

If you really want to be spiritual and live like Jesus, then you must learn and practice love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.

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