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.

25 Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her

Sometimes men can be dumb. Real dumb. I don’t think it’s intentional, it’s just how men are wired. We’re not emotionally connected beings. We’re designed to be physical and strong.

Men don’t sit around talking about our feelings. You never hear men say, “Jim, how’s your heart today? You look like you need a hug.” Men don’t go to the bathroom in herds just to talk. We just don’t know why or how.

Understanding that, sometimes it can lead to conflict in marriages as women try to communicate their way and men just don’t get it. We need some advice from time to time and some coaching on how to effectively communicate to our wives that we love them and cherish them.

Doug Flanders shares on his blog here 25 great ways to communicate love to your wife. Below is his list.

  1. Listen
    To be truly heard is the longing of every human heart, and your wife is no exception. It sounds simple, but listening can be harder than it seems with so many distractions around us and within us. Set aside some time every day to look into your wife’s eyes and really listen to what she has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear. (James 1:19Matthew 11:15)
  2. Communicate
    Don’t make her guess what you are thinking or feeling.
  3. Sing Her Praises
    Shamelessly brag about her good qualities and quietly pray about her bad ones. Her reputation is your reputation. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  4. Pray For Her and With Her
    Praying on your wife’s behalf not only enlists the help of the Almighty, but also puts her and her needs at the forefront of your heart and mind, right where they belong. Praying alongside your wife will strengthen your relationship like nothing else. Studies show that couples who regularly pray together stay together, enjoying a 1% divorce rate compared to the usual rate of 50% or more. (Philippians 4:6Matthew 18:19)
  5. Value Her Individuality
    Your wife is wonderfully unique. Don’t compare her to your mom, or your ex-wife, or your old girlfriend. Your mom may make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but unfavorable comparisons won’t win you brownie points.
  6. Put the Seat Down
    Perpetually raised toilet seats are a pet peeve of wives everywhere. And while you’re at it, tidy up a bit. A little consideration goes a long way. (Philippians 2:4)
  7. Throw Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper
    It’s likely just a few steps from wherever you are dropping them anyway. Make this a habit, and it will let your wife know your don’t consider her your personal maid.
  8. Turn Off the T.V.
    Lay aside the video games, pocket the iPhone, and shut off the computer, as well. It is staggering how many hours we waste gazing at some sort of screen instead of interacting with the real people in our lives. Consciously set limits on your tube-time, whatever form it takes. Use the time saved to invest in your marriage: take a walk with your wife or play a board game together instead. (Psalm 90:12)
  9. Loosen the Purse Strings
    We all have to keep an eye on our budget, but an occasional splurge can be well worth it. Seemingly frivolous things like flowers, jewelry, and overpriced restaurants let her know that she is more valuable to you than a number in your bank account.
  10. Practice Servant-Leadership
    All organizations have a hierarchy. It’s impossible to function without one, but being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin. Jesus washed his disciples feet and then died on their behalf. It’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, but that is what being a godly leader entails. (Matthew 20:28,Philippians 2:1-8Mark 9:35)
  11. Remember that Intimacy’s a Two-Way Street
    Unfortunately, men are notoriously selfish in the bedroom, yet are dumbfounded when their wives are less than enthusiastic in this arena. Make this area of your relationship as pleasurable for her as it is for you and it will pay huge dividends. It may mean washing the dishes or helping with the kids, so that she has energy left at the end of the day. It may mean cuddling and candlelight, so that she can relax and let the worries on her mind drift away. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just ask her, and then listen. (1 Corinthians 7:3)
  12. Give Her Time to Herself
    Everyone needs an occasional break to rest and recharge, and this is especially important for a wife who is at home all day with young children. Yet it’s very easy to neglect this legitimate need unless you regularly and intentionally schedule time for it. (Luke 5:16)
  13. Set Aside Couple Time
    Soak in the tub together each evening or go on a date night once a week — whatever gets the two of you alone on a regular basis. (Genesis 2:24-25)
  14. Be Careful with Female Friendships
    We all have friends and colleagues of the opposite sex, but tread cautiously. Not all affairs are physical ones. Honoring your marriage vows means remaining faithful in thought and word as well as in deed. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  15. Use Good Hygiene
    It is amazing how meticulous guys can be prior to marriage in their attempts to impress a girl, but once they walk down the aisle, all bets are off. Clean up a little; I promise it won’t kill you.
  16. Limit the Gross Stuff
    Few women find burping and farting nearly as hilarious as the typical guy does. Good manners are always a win. (Ephesians 5:4)
  17. Be Patient
    In whatever way this applies to you and your situation, apply it. (1 Corinthians 13:4Proverbs 14:29)
  18. Cherish Her Children
    A mother’s bond to her children runs immeasurably deep. When you invest time or energy in them, you are investing in her as well. Kindness to them counts as kindness to her. (Malachi 4:6)
  19. Choose Her Over Hobbies and Buddies
    Invariably there will come times in your relationship when you will be forced to choose between your wife and something else that you enjoy. Always choose her.
  20. Provide for Her Needs
    This is so much more than just putting food on the table. It is all-encompassing. Whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, you name it — do your best to provide. Sometimes life’s circumstances hinder us in one area, but we can compensate in another area. Often the effort is as important as the outcome. (Galatians 6:2)
  21. Dial Down the Anger
    Your caveman instincts are handy on the battlefield, but horrible for a happy home life. Every outburst or flare-up is a relationship setback. To go forward, the first step is to stop going backwards. Learn to control your temper or it will control you, your marriage, and every other aspect of your life. Just because your wife puts up with it and your co-workers tolerate it, doesn’t make your short fuse an asset. Do whatever it takes to gain victory in this all-important struggle that has haunted man since Cain slew Abel. (Ecclesiastes 7:9,Ephesians 4:31)
  22. Cut Out the Condescension
    If you have been blessed with a quick wit, you can either be the life of the party or a pain in the neck depending on the circumstances. Condescension is anger’s younger brother. It isn’t as loud or as dramatic, but it can be equally hurtful and all the more so for its subtlety. Lay off the snide remarks, the sarcasm, and the belittling. Speak to your wife in the same way that you would speak to a respected colleague. She is, after all, your partner in the most valuable investment of your life — your family.(, (Ephesians 4:29Colossians 3:19)
  23. Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights
    Value her input and give it a preferential place in your decision-making process. (Proverbs 19:2012:15)
  24. Learn to Forgive
    Freely forgive your wife’s past, present, and future offenses. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of every meaningful relationship. (Ephesians 4:32Colossians 3:13)
  25. Verbally Express Your Love
    There are lots of ways to show your love, but women still like to hear it spoken.

Are there any more suggestions or items you would add to the list? What’s your advice on how to communicate to your wife effectively that you love her?