"...take care of my brother?"
"The Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, I don't know.
Am I supposed to take care of my brother?" (Genesis 4:9)
A few days ago I watched these ducks for several moments while I walked around their pond. The one male stood erect, carefully watching me and the rest of his surroundings as the other two ducks moved along the edge of the pond poking around under the water for food. He never once put his head under the water while the other two were feeding. Only when they moved away from me toward the center of the pond did the sentinel sit in the water and scratch some itch.
The ducks started me thinking about Cain's question to God, "Am I supposed to take care of my brother?" or as it is more commonly known from the older King James version of the Bible, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Of course, Cain sarcastically asked the question after God confronted him him about Cain having murdered his brother, Abel. Regardless of the way it was asked, the question is still critical. It comes almost at the very beginning of the Bible - the ninth verse of the fourth chapter of the very first book. In the version of the Bible I'm using that's page six. In some ways it seems to me that the rest of the Bible spends a lot of time addressing that question - in my version that's another 1688 pages. It must be a pretty important question.
I think God's indictments against humanity throughout the Bible can be summarized as failure to focus on God and failure to answer Cain's question in the affirmative. "Am I supposed to take care of my brother (and sister)?" ---- YES! When Jesus was asked to give what he felt was the greatest of God's commandments he responded by saying that all the commandments could be contained in two very concise statements -- love God and love one another. Why does it take 1682 pages to convince us that we are to care for one another?
There are hundreds of reasons and excuses for our not caring for one another, but none of them cancel the reality that God compels us to love and care for one another as we have been loved by God. "Keeping" one another is not one of those "if I have time and can get around to it" sort of issues. Caring for one another is not something we're called to do if we have enough extra, left-over resources. We don't care because we have to, we care because we first feel cared for by God. If we're finding too many excuses for not caring it's probably because we've diverted our focus from God and therefore are not feeling God "keeping" us.
"Am I my brother's (and sister's) keeper?" YES! If ducks can do it then so can I! I pray that God's Spirit will fill me with the awareness of God's love for me so that I might love and care for others. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
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"...take care of my brother?"