The whole idea of being our brother’s keeper comes up very early in the Bible, and it comes up under some really bad circumstances – the murder of Able by his brother Cain. God had watched the circumstances develop that would lead to Cain’s growing rage and God actually intervened with a potential solution. The Bible shows us the thought pattern of Cain – the downward spiral he willingly stepped into and followed rather than following God’s solution. It is a really scary sequence, because it is the all too common spiral of rage that is alive and well today. Cain inevitably chose to ignore God’s direction and followed his own rage instead with the result of a murdered brother. When God rhetorically asks Cain where his brother is (he was laying dead in a field) Cain’s response is the infamous line “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The answer to that infamous question is a resounding yes! We are to be our brother’s keeper – but what does that really mean? First of all, the word “keeper” literally means “to hedge about, to guard” “generally to protect, to attend to”. So, the first thing to notice is that being our brother’s keeper is much more than just acknowledging or noticing our brother – it means to be protective of him, to work towards his best safety and welfare.
The next thing we need to think about is another really good age old question “Who is my brother?” Who should be on my radar to “protect and defend”? Here again we see that all of humanity is not and should not be treated in the same way by each of us. Whoa, really? Are we saying that we should be discriminating in the way we treat others? Yes – but please remember that the word “discriminating” does not always mean prejudice – it means using wisdom as well!
Think about it – we treat our family in a special way because we have a special physical bond, a commonality with them. We treat our brotherhood in Christ in a special way – similar to family – because we have a special spiritual bond and commonality with them. We treat our neighbors and associates in a different way, in accordance with whatever our common ground is and we treat our enemies differently, because of a lack of commonality.
What do all of these relationships have in common? Love! We are to love all of them. Check out our May 22, 2016 broadcast “Should We be Our Brother’s Keeper?” and see how to apply this “protect and defend” principle in different ways depending on the relationship involved, as it just might make your day!
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