Daily Dose, April 23 — My Brother’s Keeper

  Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.” Next, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time, Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel, for his part, brought of the firstlings of his flock, 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 countenance fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” 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 your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:1-12) “I’m the maker of my own destiny. What other people do is their business. I’m not responsible for anyone but me. I don’t want to get involved. It’s their business.” It’s all too easy to take this position, but this might not line up with what the Bible teaches us. What is the Christian’s role in the lives of others? Are we really supposed to live life on an island, not concerned with tending to the wellbeing of others because “it’s none of our business”? In the Bible reading for today, we encounter a guilty Cain pleading ignorance when God asks about his brother Abel’s whereabouts. “I do not know,” Cain says. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It’s his way of saying that he has no responsibility. But God knows…God always knows. To be fair, this story illustrates the extreme edge of human behavior. Cain feels animosity toward Abel, and he resorts to murder. Most all of us (I hope!) are not prone to such extremes. But I’d argue that we all sometimes take the defensive posture of Cain. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What is our responsibility to others? Does God have an expectation of us that is higher than what we often have of ourselves? Much later in the Old Testament, we see these words from Micah: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” It’s interesting to notice the action words there. We are to “do” justice, we are to “love” kindness, we are to “walk” with humility. These all point us outward, beyond ourselves, toward our brothers and sisters. Ask yourself today, “Am I my brother’s (and sister’s) keeper?” If so, what impact would that have on how you treat someone today? -- Rev. Brad Greene