Today’s Reading: 2 CHRONICLES 21:1-4; 2 KINGS 8:16-22; 2 CHRONICLES 21:5-7
Am I my brother’s keeper?– we have all heard the question. Admittedly, for the first 18 years of my life I thought the legitimate answer was “No”. I thought that was the logical answer – my brother can take care of himself and it is not my responsibility. Maybe I thought that way because I was the little (imagine that – little, ha) brother.
But when I was 18 or 19 I learned that the correct answer was “yes” you are your bother’s keeper. You are supposed to help him and look out for him.
Today we are reminded of Cain and Able from Genesis 4. Abel wass killed by his brother Cain because Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s. Cain was bothered that his brother’s good sacrifice reinforced how unworthy his was. Cain was jealous and angry. In a fit of rage he killed his brother. Why did John remind us of Cain and Abel? John explains it for us.
1 John 3:12 (NIV)
12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
Unfortunately, the killing of brothers did not start and end with Cain and Able. In today’s reading we read how the son of one of the better kings of Judah blows it big time. Jehoshaphat has died and his oldest son Jehoram is named king. Jehoram, ruins the family heritage by killing all of his brothers after he had solidified power as king. He removed his brothers because their holiness made his ungodliness look bad. He was jealous and threatened by them.
What is the lesson for us today? Here is the I John 3:12 verse in a broader context.
1 John 3:11 – 24 (NIV)
11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
So, yes, the answer is we are our brother’s keeper. It is the model that Christ laid out for us. Just as He loved the world so are we to love one another. By loving one another we know that we belong to the truth.