AM I MY BROTHERíS KEEPER
Our lesson this morning begins with the familiar story of Cain and Able. Let us begin in,
Genesis 4:3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.† 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,† 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.† 6 So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?† 7 "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."† 8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. †
This is our first recorded murder in the Bible and even worse it was between two brothers. Cain killed his brother because of his jealousy since God had accepted Abel's offering, but not his own. Notice the question that God ask Cain.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
This is an excellent question to ask ourselves today
† a. Are we our brother's keeper?
† b. Do we have a responsibility to watch out for and care for one another?
Well as we begin to study the New Testament, it becomes very clear that the answer is yes .In fact, there are many passages which emphasize our responsibility to one another. For instance the Bible teaches us that we are to love one another in fact Jesus himself commands it in,
Jn 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.† 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Now you think about how deep a love this is. Jesus wants us to love one another as he loved us and we all know what he did for us even though we didnít deserve it. It important that we take this command to heart because as Jesus said when we have this type of sincere love for one another it shows that we are Disciples of Christ. When we love each other like we are suppose to it makes Christianity very attractive to the sinner in the world because everyone wants to experience this kind of love. However if you have a church that constantly fighting against each other and they are not showing love one another this will be a big turn off to the sinner because they could witness that kind of treatment at home or anywhere in the world. So its imperative that we continue to grow in our love for one another. Notice what Paul has to say about this in,
Ro 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
1 Th 4:9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
Peter also has some instructions for us on this matter as well.
1 Pe 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
This word ďferventlyĒ means intensely and suggest that we should love one another with our whole heart. The apostle† John who has been called the apostle of love has this to offer,
1 Jn 3:11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.
You see if Cain had possessed the kind of Love that we are to have for one another he would of never even considered killing his brother. Instead he would have been happy for him that God had accepted his offering. This is the kind of thing that happens when we start replacing love with jealousy, rage, bitterness toward our brother or sister in Christ. Now we may not get to point where kill someone but we can certainly find ourselves thinking evil of someone which will lead us to sin. Finally John says this,
1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
†12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
These passages make it very clear that we are our brothers keeper and if we want God to abide in us we are to love one another.
Now the question becomes, how do we show our love for one another? Once again the word of God gives us great insight to this question. Notice what Paul tells us in
Ro 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
This certainly a great way for us to show our love for our brother and sisters in Christ. We should always be willing to fellowship with our fellow Christian no matter who they are. Jesus received the lame the diseased and whoever wanted to come to him and we should follow this same example because truly shows that we love our brethren because they are child of God and not because of the outward appearance or their social status. Every soul is important to God and should be to us as well. Not only was Jesus willing to receive all while he was on this earth he longs to accept all those who will come to him today as,
Rev 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This means we need to receive everyone that Christ will receive.
†Another way can show our love is by edifying (build up/encorage)one another"
†Ro 14:19 †Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
†Everybody needs to be encouraged and built up from time to time and when we do this we show our brethren that care about them. When we encourage someone it can make the difference of them having a good or a bad day. I know I have days where I feeling pretty low but when someone takes the time to encourage with sincere words it lifts me up every single time. So, lets us always look for opportunities to edify one another.
Another thing we can do is "serve one another" with love †as,
†Ga 5:13For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
This means that we look for ways that we might help each other out. If someone is sick or has lost a love one we might serve them by bringing them food. We might mow someones lawn for them when they cannot. I experienced the kind love from several of my brothers here in the congregation because when I was building my house I needed to raise my roof and many of you came and helped me and will never forget how you served me that day out of love. So this is certain one way we can show our love for another. ††
Another thing we can do is "bear one another's burdens" †as,
Ga 6:1-2Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
This† is an excellent way to show you love for your brother or sister. When someone goes through something that really just drags them down to rock bottom they need someone to help them bear their burden. The quickest way to turn someone away from the church is failing to be there for them in their time of need. We as Christians need to be watchful so we can help one another with our burdens. I know of several instances where Christians left the church and started going to a denomination because no one in those congregations were there for them when they really needed the support of their brethren. But on flip side of this as individuals you have to let someone know that you are struggling with a burden so that we can know that you need help because we are not mind readers. So, lets always do our best to try and bear one anotherís burdens.
Another thing we can do is be "forgiving of one another" †as,
Ep 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
This can be a very difficult thing for us to do sometimes. We all struggle with this especially when it really hurts us deep in our heart. Paul tells us that† we must forgive one another just as Christ forgave us. It always encourages me to be forgiving of others when† I think how Jesus was hanging on the cross suffering for our sins and yet he still told the Father to forgive them for they know not what they do. I also think about how Paul the chief of sinners was forgiven for all the cruel things he had done. So if we want to show love toward each other we need to forgive one another.
Another thing we can do is to "submitting to one another" as,
Ep 5:21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
This caries the idea of being humble or respectful to one another and this would certainly eliminate all kind of problems that cause bickering and strife. You see when love someone even when we donít agree with them on certain things you hold your tongue and try to focus in on those things which you do agree.† †
Another thing we† can do is "exhort ( comfort or strengthen)† one another" †as,
†He 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Exhorting someone means to take them to the side and speak words to them that will either comfort them or build them up. Notice the text says to do this daily while it is still called today. If you know someone that is struggling with their relationship with God go talk to them today. Donít wait till tomorrow or next week do it today. We should love our brethren enough to do this so they might not depart from the living God. When act today instead of the next time we see them this show them the we truly care about their relationship with God.
Another thing we can do is to "consider one another"(that is to show a continuous care for each other's spiritual welfare)
He 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Its one thing to consider someone one time as opposed to continually caring for them. Some have the attitude that if they do some good deed once for a person that they never have to that again. Its like some people have list of things they want to do and once they complete the mark it off so they can say, I did that. But the way you show that you really love someone is by being there for them every time that you can. These verses also stress the importance of assembling with the saints. Think about this for min. How can we show a continues care for our brethren if we donít assemble with one another? How can the church know if you need care if you neglect to come to the church services? So, you can show your love for brethren by assembling with saints and use these assemblies to express you concern toward one another.
Last but not least we can also show our love by being "hospitable (love of strangers)† to one another" as Peter says in,
1 Pe 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
This is something you donít see happening that much these days. However this use to be very common many years ago. This certainly shows our love for others when we invite someone to our home. It is great way of spending more time with one another and so that we develop stronger bonds in Christ. This is an excellent reason why we should try and make it to fellowship opportunities when we can.
After examining all these "one another" passages, there shouldnít be any doubt that we are to be our brother's keeper.
Now the question becomes, How well are you being your brothers keeper? To help us answer this, Iím going to ask you several questions that will help you evaluate yourself.
When a new person becomes a brother or a new Christian starts attending our church do you receive them into the family of God, or do you ignore them?
One thing I have observed in differing congregation is that when a person becomes a Christian everybody is excited about it and just about everybody will hug or encourage that person right after their baptized. But, after a couple of weeks go by the new wears off and everyone goes back to their same group of friends and leave this new convert left standing around with no one to talk to no one to encourage them and then we wonder why they have stopped coming to church. The same thing applies to the new Christian that moves in. †Do you try and reach out to others in the church that are new or do you find yourself staying with your same old friends? If we just stay in our little group we cannot possible be doing that great of a job of being our brothers keeper.
Or next question is do you try to edify your brethren or do you put a stumbling block in their way? As individuals, are we doing our best to encourage the members of the body or are we like a cancer, weakening the members of the body of Christ by our negative example or attitudes?††††
It was said of Philemon that he refreshed the hearts of the brethren; do people say the same thing about us?††††
†Do we submit to them, or do we arrogantly to rule over them?
Do we serve them in love, or expect them to serve us?
Do we demonstrate hospitality to them by inviting them into our homes (or by accepting invitations to their home)?
When one of brethren is overtaken by a sin do we consider them?
†Are we ignorant of their problems?† If so, why? Maybe the reason is because we don't assemble enough with each other. We may "wonder about them", but that is not sufficient! We need to find out what the problem is and visit them and call them up so they will know that we care. Otherwise the will simply drift away because no has made an effort to reach them.
†Do we exhort our brethren lest they become hardened by sin or are we afraid to confront them, for fear of running them away?††††
If we truly love them and approach them with humility, most likely they will not run away If they do, they are running away from God, not you! Remember the writer of Hebrews said this exhortation is to be done daily!† Perhaps we wait too long...
Are we willing to bear their burdens †to help them overcome and become stronger in lord or would †we rather not be bothered?
I can promise you that if we do not bear their burdens it will be very difficult for them not to fall away from God. The following verses makes this point clear.
. Ecc 4:9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
If a Christian has no support from their brethren they make an easy target for the devil to drag them down ever further.
Are we quick to forgive them when they repent or do we have a pessimistic attitude and say to ourselves that person really isnít repenting? When we fail to forgive those who repent not only do we show a lack of love for our brethren we fail to be like Christ and if we continue to harbor resentment in our heart against that individual it will make our lives miserable and will most like lead us to sin.
So,† are we willing to accept a brother with open arms and offer complete forgiveness?
These answers you gave to these questions I asked should reveal to you how† well or how poorly you are †fulfilling your responsibility to be your brother's keeper
†† As Jesus said in John 13:34 we must learn to love one another as Christ loved
This morning if you have found yourself failing short of †being your brotherís keeper , then I want to encourage you to make a change in your life and a change in your attitude. So that you can start showing love for your brethren by being your brothers keeper. We all desperately need to learn how to love one another and strengthen one another more. Not only will this make God happy it will strengthen and grow His church. When you read history books on Christianity all of them make mention of the great love that they had for one another. I hope that we can follow in their footsteps and strive to love one another and to be our brothers keeper.