Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9)

The story of Cain and Abel is a familiar one. The sons of Adam and Eve, they were commanded by God to bring Him an acceptable offering.

In response, Abel brought an offering of his flocks, which was acceptable to God. Cain brought an offering of his fields that was less than what God required. God did not accept Cain’s offering.

Because God preferred Abel’s offering, Cain killed his brother.

When God tested him after the murder, Cain replied to God by famously asking if he was his “brother’s keeper.” His actions and response revealed not just a murderous heart toward his own family, but a selfish, immature, sinful spirit.

Of course Cain was his brother’s keeper. We all should be. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my children’s keeper. I am Karen’s keeper. I am responsible for the members of my family, for my neighbors, and for my fellow man.

The truth is this: God holds us responsible for how we treat people, especially our family.

A successful marriage is marked by a sense of mutual concern for one another. A man cares what is happening in the life of his wife. Likewise, a woman cares about the details of her husband’s life. They “keep” each other. They care for one another. Their lives are intimately intertwined.

This is also true in a successful family. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters—they all look out for one another with an attitude that says “if you’re not okay, I’m not okay.”

In a family, we protect each other and rally around the person who needs us.

But this attitude of caring extends even further. It should also flow outside the home to people in our neighborhoods, our churches, and our cities.

The attitude that bonds families together and perpetuates a strong society is one of mutual concern for our fellow man.

Jesus had much to say about this. His personal commandment to His Church was to “…love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Once, when a man quoted that commandment back to Jesus about loving your neighbor as you love yourself, the man asked “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-36).

In this story, Jesus expanded the definition of “neighbor” to anyone we encounter in life who is in need and whom we have the resources to help. The point of the story? God holds us responsible to help each other.

God takes the way we treat people personally. People we may judge as being losers, weirdos, or unworthy of our care are the same people He loves. Ours is a selfish, rejecting culture, but we must remember that God is pursuing the same people we reject.

Yes, you are your brother’s keeper, your family’s keeper, your spouse’s keeper—and God expects you to honor that responsibility. Do not forget this truth!

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