AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?
A. Perhaps one of the more thought-provoking questions in the Bible is that one asked by Cain…
1. Cain had killed his brother because God had accepted Abel’s offering, but not his own (Gen. 4:3-8)
a. Abel had offered a bloody sacrifice pleasing to the Lord
b. Cain had brought an offering from the fruit of the ground which did not please the Lord
c. Cain killed his brother in jealous anger
2. When the Lord inquired concerning Abel, Cain’s response was: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9)
B. This is a question we would do well to ask ourselves today:
1. Are we our brothers’ keeper?
2. Do we have a responsibility to watch out for and care for one another?
C. When one turns to the New Testament, it becomes clear that the answer is in the affirmative. In fact, there are many passages which emphasize…
A. OUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO ONE ANOTHER
1. We Are To “Love One Another”…
a. As commanded by Jesus
1) John 13:34-35
2) John 15:12, 17
b. As taught by Paul
1) Romans 13:8
2) 1 Thessalonians 4:9
c. As instructed by Peter – 1 Peter 1:22
d. As stressed by John
1) 1 John 3:11-12
2) 1 John 3:23
3) 1 John 4:7
4) 1 John 4:11-12
5) 2 John 5
e. But how are we to express such love?
1) How do we know if we are truly loving one another as we ought?
2) Other passages can provide the answer…
2. How We Show Our Love For One Another…
a. Romans 15:7
1) We are to “welcome” one another
2) “Accept one another” (NAS) – “receive ye one another” (KJV)
3) Not accepting sin or error, but we are all different – different in education, race, financial status, etc.
b. Romans 14:19
1) “Mutual up building”
2) We are to “edify another” (KJV)
3) Strengthen and build each other up
c. Galatians 5:13
1) We are to “serve one another”
2) Christianity focuses on providing for the needs of others – spiritual and physical
d. Galatians 6:1-2
1) We are to “bear one another’s burdens”
2) We all have burdens of various kinds that must be dealt with – but the burden in this context is the burden of sin
3) We must help one another overcome sin
e. Ephesians 4:32
1) We are to be “forgiving one another”
2) When a brother repents – we must forgive
3) Not on probation – not holding grudges…
f. Ephesians 5:21
1) We are to be “submitting to one another”
2) The idea is to be submissive to one another
g. Hebrews 3:12-13
1) We are to “exhort one another”
2) To “encourage” (NAS)
3) Lit. “to call to one’s side” – it carries the idea of motivation and if need be reproof
h. Hebrews 10:24-25
1) We are to “consider one another”
2) NAS – “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds”
3) This conveys the concept of careful consideration, thoughtful attention and deep concern
k. 1 Peter 4:8-10
1) We are to show “hospitality”
2) Notice it is to be done “without grumbling”
3. In light of such “one another” passages, is there any doubt that we are to be our brother’s keeper?
a. But how well are we doing?
b. To stimulate our thinking and help us reexamine how well we are fulfilling our obligations to one another, consider the following questions…
B. EVALUATING OUR ROLE AS OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER
1. When One Becomes A Brother…
a. Do we receive them into the family of God, or ignore them? (Rom. 15:7)
1) Are they properly assimilated in the family life of the congregation?
2) Do they remain on the fringe?
3) If we do not even know their names, we can be sure that we are failing as our brother’s keeper!
b. Do we edify them, or put stumbling blocks in their way? (Rom. 14:19)
1) As individuals, are we “bodybuilders”, encouraging the members of the body?
2) Or are we like a cancer, weakening the members of the body of Christ?
a) By our own example
b) By our words, attitudes, etc.
3) It was said of Philemon that he refreshed the hearts of the brethren; do people say the same of us?
c. Do we submit to them, or arrogantly rule over them? (Eph. 5:21)
d. Do we serve them in love, or expect them to serve us? (Gal. 5:13)
e. Do we demonstrate hospitality to them? (1 Pet. 4:8-10)
1) By visiting them in their need?
2) By inviting them into your home (or accepting invitations to their home)?
2. When A Brother Is Overtaken In A Fault…
a. Do we even consider them? (Heb. 10:24-25)
1) Are we even aware of who they are?
2) Are we ignorant of their problems? If so, why?
a) Maybe it is because we don’t assemble enough ourselves
b) We may “wonder about them”, but that is not sufficient!
c) I often hear, “Has anybody checked on so-and-so?”
d) I often what to respond, “Have you?”
3) Do they drift away, with no one making an effort to reach them?
b. Do we exhort them, lest they become hardened by sin? (Heb. 3:12-14)
1) Or are we afraid to confront them, for fear of running them away?
a) If we truly love them and approach them with humility, they are not likely to run away
b) If they do, they are running away from God, not you!
2) Remember, such exhortation is to be daily! Perhaps we wait too long…
c. Are we willing bear their burdens? (Gal. 6:1-2)
1) So as to help them overcome and become stronger
2) Or do we rather not be bothered?
d. Are we quick to forgive them when they repent? (Eph. 4:32)
1) Fear of not being forgiven and accepted back into the family may keep some from repenting and returning to the fold
2) Do we communicate a willingness to accept with open arms and offer complete forgiveness?
A. How we answer such questions may reveal how well or poorly we are…
1. Fulfilling our responsibility to be our brother’s keeper
2. Living up to the one responsibility we have that includes all others: to love one another as Christ loved us – John 13:34-35
B. If we have failed to be our brother’s keeper, we need to…
1. Repent of our lack of concern, our inactivity, or whatever has hindered us
2. Confess our shortcomings in this area to God
3. Resolve to apply with zeal these “one another” passages!
C. Are you your brother’s keeper?
1. Are you even identified with a congregation whereby you can be a working member who both cares for those in the family, and be cared for by them?
2. I hope this study has stimulated your thinking about responsibilities you have toward your brethren in Christ…