A BROTHER'S KEEPER
by Arway Sayeh-Swepson
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A Brother’s Keeper
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Genesis 4:9
Am I my brother’s keeper?!! What a defiant answer and the nerve to sass the Almighty God like that? Anyway, forget Cain. He is history. What about us? If we were asked the same question today, how would we respond? Do we really know of our brother’s whereabouts? Do we know our primary duties and responsibilities as a brother’s keeper?
First of all, it is important to understand who our brother is and our job description as a Brother’s Keeper. Sound Christian doctrine teaches that we are all brothers and sisters.--God’s children. Hence, from this perception, the word “brother” does not denote a male sibling or a devoted religious worker. Christians should consider everyone as a sibling regardless of their place of origin or status in society. Male or female, friend or foe, black or white, Protestant or Catholic, Pentecostal or Baptist, Jew or Gentile, alien or citizen; as long as we are of the human race we are all siblings—God’s children.
COMPASSION – A REQUIRED QUALITY
Perhaps all is well with you and you are very content. That is awesome! It is indeed a blessing to be at peace in this world of pain and suffering. No aggravation, no worry, no sorrow and you have no regrets. Wow! Semi-Heaven!
Considering your present state of contentment, you are probably assuming that it is well with everyone else and there is no need for concern; right? In any case, if you think that everyone is in the same peaceful and steady boat with you then you are mistaken. Just because you are fortunate does not mean that everyone else is. Don’t “function on assumption”; it is a gambler’s policy. Whether you believe it or not, the stark reality is, it is not well with everyone.
I don’t mean to intrude and disturb your so-called “Fantasy Island”, but if you don’t mind, just step out of your comfort zone for a moment and look around you carefully. You will find that the tranquility you now bask in is not as widespread as you think it is. The unpleasant truth is it is a different version of your “picture perfect” life somewhere. Someone is not as fortunate as you are at this moment. They are probably troubled, confused, disappointed, hurting, angry, poverty-stricken, going astray and worst of all, on their way to hell. As a Christian, shouldn’t you be concerned that perhaps your brother does not share your tranquility? Doesn’t it bother you? Aren’t you the least bit troubled? If you are not, then you are probably a Christian “missing in action” or gone A.W.O.L.
Seriously, we should be concerned about the welfare of our brother. Compassion is an essential quality of a Christian. Our job description as Christians is incomplete without love. We should be sensitive to the needs of others—not only proclaiming verbally that we love people but proclaiming it in deeds as well. The Bible states that a Christian, with all of his spiritual gifts and status, is nothing without love,
I Corinthians 13: 1-2:
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become a sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Well said! What is the use of being a gifted Christian and yet lack the basic quality which defines a Christian. Christianity is not about showing off. It is about love. It was out of love that Christianity came into existence in the first place. John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he give his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Listen, God is not expecting us to sacrifice our offspring but he wants us to at least love one another and exhibit it. It is our solemn duty as Christians to love and care for one another, and when we do that, it shows that we are caring for Jesus as well.
Matthew 25: 35 – 40:
”For when I was hungry you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; Naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me”.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord when were you hungry and I fed you….
And he shall answer, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of my brothers, you have done it unto me”.
Jesus uncompromisingly states that whatever we do to our brother affects him as well. Let us remember this when dealing with people. The notion that we are caring for Jesus as we care for our brother should prompt us even more to support one another.
Don’t eat, drink, and be merry and forget about your brother. Always regard others as you prosper and enjoy life. The awful truth is it is not always well with everyone.
• There is a possibility that while you are visiting your child at college, your neighbor is visiting theirs in prison.
• While you are celebrating your child’s birthday, someone is putting flowers on their child’s grave.
• You may have the ultimate job but some woman’s pride is hurting because out of desperation, she now has to live on food stamps.
• While you are celebrating your wedding anniversary, someone’s marriage is failing.
• While you are searching to buy a new home, someone has just received a foreclosure notice.
• You might be like the “Old woman who lived in a shoe with so many children and she didn’t know what to do”, but on the other hand, another woman is childless.
• You may be in excellent health but someone has just been diagnosed with Cancer.
• While your business is thriving, some other business has just filed bankruptcy and so forth.
The awful truth is it is probably hell for someone while you are experiencing Heaven on earth but please do not misconstrue my point here. Let me make this very clear. It is not a crime to be at peace and have plenty. But while you are in that lofty position, be it wealth, health, knowledge or whatever form of tranquility you find yourself basking in, just remember that there is a possibility that all is not well with your brother.
BE A BROTHER’S KEEPER AT ALL TIMES
A Christian should retain the status of “a brother’s keeper” at all times. Everywhere that Jesus went, he was busy doing good; he was healing people, feeding people, teaching people, defending people and comforting people. Therefore, like Jesus, let us exhibit good qualities wherever we go too. Before crisis begin, keep in touch with your brother. Help keep him on track. Be a guardian, a provider and a counselor in order to minimize or prevent crisis. Rebuke him as necessary. Don’t wait until Satan strikes.
If Satan beats you to it then reach out anyhow to that troubled brother. Look for ways to help. Find out what the trouble is and in anyway you can, offer your help. Allow your brother to lean on you when he is not strong. Be a shelter in a time of storm and a bridge over troubled waters. Help him to fly when his wings refuse to even flutter. Wipe away his tears when he can’t find the strength to wipe it on his own. Help him to smile when he doesn’t remember what it is like to smile anymore. Help him to hold his head up and maintain his balance when everything around him is shaking and falling apart. Help him to face tomorrow and give him a purpose for waking up in the morning.
NOTE: Even if that brother is your enemy; Romans 12:20 says, “If your enemy is hungry feed him, thirsty, give him to drink.”
TALK IS CHEAP --TAKE ACTION
Don’t just talk or gossip about your brother’s troubles; what he should have done and what he failed to do and blah, blah, blah. You are not accomplishing a thing by constantly repeating the events that led to his misfortune. The only thing achieved here is the imitation of a scratched record or CD--just going around in circles but stuck in the same place and not making any sense at all. If you must talk about the situation, talk about it on your knees to your heavenly father alone. Intercede for that person.
Help your neighbor financially, spiritually, visit or call him often. Invite him to church. Look for ways to help. Do whatever you can to help but at least do something. A period of difficulty, is a time when most (if not all) people are very vulnerable. This is the time when they will stop and listen. So take advantage of the opportunity. Beat the devil to it. Don’t let the devil get to him with all of his lies before you do. Or else, it will be quite a battle to win your neighbor over.
AVOID A JUDGMENTAL ATTITUDE
As you reach out to your troubled brother, do not make him an object of condemnation. Do not pass judgment prematurely either. If you can’t figure out why the person is in such a mess just keep your mouth shut.
If you really want to help, listen first. Examine the situation to detect the root cause of the problem. Who or what is responsible? What are the contributing factors? Is the person reaping what he sowed?
Whatever your findings are, do not be hasty in passing judgment or making recommendations: “you should not have done this; you should have done that and blah, blah, blah”. Please, it is too late for that now. No need to cry over spilled milk. Perhaps, if you, the “Christian”, had been around more often to offer sound advice, the person wouldn’t be in such a predicament.
Sometimes we do not engineer or contribute in any way to adversity. It just happens because we live on a fallen earth with Satan roaming about endlessly--seeking whom he may devour. Perhaps, it is a test from God or a snare from the devil. At the outset of the problem, the cause is usually unclear but in due course the truth will be revealed. In the meantime, do not be judgmental and conclude that it is the wrath of God because of some failure or sin on the part of the person.
Take for instance, Job. When Job was being severely tested, his friends accused him falsely of having some hidden sin. They maintained that Job had done some evil and God was not pleased with him. They were very wrong.
Sometime ago there was a disaster (hurricane & flooding) in New Orleans. Some people claimed that it was God’s judgment. No one really knows why it happened. If God were to judge us accordingly, tell me, who would stand?!! We should do away with the notion that whenever something evil befalls someone or a nation, it is a judgment from God. Listen, God does not think and neither does he function like man (Thank God!).
Being a brother’s keeper also requires honesty; speaking out sincerely when an error needs to be addressed and corrected. After listening and examining the facts and it is conclusive that the individual is responsible for his misfortune, then do not hesitate to tell him. Remember to use tact. Show him his shortcomings; what he failed to do and what needs to be corrected.
CONSIDER YOUR BROTHER’S
PHYSICAL NEEDS TOO
When Jesus ministered to people here on earth, he did not only concentrate on their spiritual needs but their physical needs as well. Do you remember when Jesus fed the five thousand? (Mark 6: 37 – 42) He preached to the crowd and fed them too. He was not inconsiderate. He did not go on and on with his sermon without realizing that he was ministering to humans.
As you reach out, don’t just go with your “holier-than-thou” attitude and can’t even offer some kind of physical or material relief. You have said enough words already; now show deeds.
If the person is experiencing financial constraints, do not run from him, help him out. What good is your concern or advice, if you are in the position to help financially and you wouldn’t? Don’t tell your brother to pray hard for a miracle or for some manna to drop from heaven when you could be the very source of his manna.
NOTE: When you’ve provided help, do not brag about it to anyone. Matthew 6:2, When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.
SATAN THE SOURCE OF TROUBLE
The bottom line is that Satan is the source of all of the misery in this world. He has caused enough damage already. The question is what will you the Christian do about it? Will you sit by idly and let Satan abuse, misuse and walk all over your brother and eventually destroy him both physically and spiritually?
As a “brother’s keeper”, we should do all that we can to pick our brother up and keep him on the right track. Don’t shun him in his time of need. Be there for him. Stay with him until you see a breakthrough. Keep lifting your brother up in prayers until he is free. Even after the breakthrough, stay connected.
SHOW GOD THAT YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR BROTHER IS
Don’t be like Cain. When you are asked about your brother, have a concrete answer for God. Stand with your head held up high and don’t stutter either. Convey what you have done for your brother with pride. Let God know that your brother is alive and well,
Let God know that because of your honesty and sound spiritual advice, he was able to turn his life around.
Tell God that because of your financial provision, he now has a place to lay his head and that he and his family do not go to bed hungry anymore.
Tell God how you reached out and helped picked your brother up when he did not have the strength to pick himself up; how you helped him walk with his head up in the midst of trouble and ridicule, how you comforted him and gave him new hope.
Go on, keep telling God with dignity how you have been a good brother’s keeper and your heavenly Father will be very pleased with you, Matthew 25:40 “And he shall answer, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of my brothers, you have done it unto me”.
Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… Matthew 25:34 .
Arway Sayeh-Swepson - 2007
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