This post is the first in a series of posts based on selected one-liners from the Bible. We start with the well-known words of Cain, the Bible’s first murderer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Still today people will use this phrase when they don’t want to take responsibility for someone’s whereabouts.
That was pretty much the case when God confronted Cain about murdering his brother, Abel. Cain was unrepentant and pretended that he did not know where his brother was by responding, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” His attitude was, “I didn’t know it was my day to babysit my brother.”
The reason Cain murdered Abel was because Abel had made him look bad. When it came time to bring their offerings to God, God was please with Abel’s offering but he was not pleased with Cain’s offering. God tried to calm Cain down by speaking to him:
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, ESV)
The way it is worded in Genesis 4 indicates that God views a person and their offering as one: “And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.” (Genesis 4:4-5, ESV) Do we think about that when we bring out gifts to God today? How would it impact our gifts to God if we all realized that God looks at the gift and the giver in the same light?
As a wise person pointed out, “We are not our brothers’ keepers but we are our brothers’ brothers.” We are not called by God to keep tabs on our brothers and sister in Christ like a zookeeper keeps track of his animals by keeping them in cages but we are called by God to be a brother or sister to them. In Christ we are all equal before God so we are to look out for each other. “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 6:2.
An even wiser person once wrote:
“Abel’s blood for vengeance pleaded to the skies,
But the blood of Jesus, for our pardon cries.”
Since there was no earthly government established yet, God himself took vengeance on Cain for killing Abel. But centuries later God sent Jesus Christ, his beloved Son, into the world to bring pardon for all our sins. Now when anyone tries to condemn us for our sins we turn, not to our own righteousness, but to the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross.
We may not have committed murder but in God’s eyes, a sin is a sin and the only way to forgiveness is through the blood Christ shed for us on the cross. And the blood of Jesus does not free us from whatever earthly punishment that the governing authorities may impose if we have broken the law.
Secure in the forgiveness that is ours through the blood of Christ, we then strive to show love and support to others as our brothers and sisters.