My Brother's Keeper

Here's a little follow up lesson from yesterday's post...

This morning during my quiet time before work (which I was more focused during), I was reading through Genesis 4. As some background, I decided this week to start a plan to read through the Bible in a year, reading both Old and New Testament passages each day. However, yesterday I was so focused on Psalm 46 I failed to complete all of my readings for the day. This morning I decided to go back and re-read yesterday's passages, and then I would read today's at lunch. I'm so glad I went back this morning because something struck me, something from Genesis 4 and the story of Cain and Abel.

I've read about Cain and Abel hundreds of times. I remember in Sunday School it was always taught that the story of Cain and Abel was a story about not being jealous of others and doing what is right by doing what God wants, not what we want. I'm not discounting that lesson at all, in fact, I think it's a good way for us to teach children about not harboring jealousy and hate in our hearts... but I think it goes deeper than that too. This morning, for the first time, I got a different glimpse of the impact that Genesis 4 should have on our daily lives.

"And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lordsaid to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground." Genesis 4:2-10

The first few verses there definitely point to the lesson that we shouldn't be jealous of others, we should be focused on pleasing God with our own words and deeds. That's a great reminder, but here's a thought on the last few verses that I'm working through this morning. After Cain kills Abel, the Lord speaks to him and says "Where is Abel your brother?" to which Cain replies "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?".. Now stick with me here... in 1 John 3:15 it says "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Which means at some point in my life, multiple points in reality... I am guilty of being Cain. When I harbor anger and jealousy towards my brother (or sister) that manifests itself into hate, I am murdering that person. Which begs the question, when the Lord convicts me about that hate, how am I responding? Am I responding as Cain did and angrily (and snidely) questioning God with "Am I my brother's keeper?"... At times... absolutely that's my reaction. When I am convicted to be there for someone, to respect someone, to reach out to someone, who I have no desire to love (from a selfish perspective) because of hate in my heart that's what I am doing. I'm looking at God and telling him it's not my responsibility, that I am not my brother's keeper. Which couldn't be further from the truth! To some degree, being my brother's keeper is exactly what I am... 

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another"

I am called to sharpen my brothers, which means being there for them, looking at for them, caring for them. If I am not spurring my brothers (and sisters) on towards righteousness and holiness, than I am contradicting exactly what God has called me to do. I am no better than Cain, giving God the business by snidely denying that I am my brothers keeper. Granted, my brothers have free will and I can't make their choices for them... but I can encourage them, push them, support them, and unify myself with them in way that keeps them strong in the Word, and the Lord. 

Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity"

Relationship with others is so important. In order to live in unity and have strong relationships with others we need to care about our brothers' and sisters' relationship with the Lord. We should be spurring each other on towards growth. When we dwell in unity with each other, we begin to live in tighter community. We are able to remove the resentment Cain had for Abel, because we should be finding joy in the good our brothers and sisters are doing, not harboring jealousy. 

How do you respond when God lays a brother or sister on your heart? Who are you harboring jealousy and hate towards? What can you do to live in better unity with others?

These are the questions on my heart this morning, these are the questions I'm working through myself.

Because I know that when God lays a brother or sister on my heart, I want to look to Him not with the response of Cain, but in a response of love saying "They're right where you have called them to be"

Grace and Peace

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