"Am I My Brother's Keeper?"-
Genesis 4: 8-9
1. This question was Cain's reply to the question God had just previously asked: "Where is Abel they brother?"
a. God knew. He merely asked this pedagogical question to remind Cain of where Abel was.
b. This is the second cross-examination found in the Bible. the first concerned Adam and Eve and their sin (Gen 3: 8-13). It was asked after man's struggle with Satan. The second one was asked after man's struggle with man. Adam and Eve were evasive but humble. Cain was hardened and cynical. This is evidenced in his reply: "Am I my brother's keeper?"
2. Of course, the answer is "yes."
a. However, Cain intended for the question to convey the meaning that he was not his brother's keeper, that his brother's state was no concern of his; because he prefaced the question with these words, "I know not." He did know, for he had just killed him. The question was asked in deception and contempt. "The question gains a slightly different force in the Hebrew, where the predicate stands for emphasis: 'Am keeper of my brother I?" like 'Am I supposed to watch him all the while?'"--Barnes Notes.
b. This same merciless indifference toward the welfare of others was manifested by the priest and Levite who passed by on the other side of the needy man (Luke 10: 29-37). Jesus condemned their behavior as unneighborly.
3. Envy kept Cain from being his brother's keeper.
a. His uncontrollable and spiteful envy had just roused him to murder his brother (4:8). Centuries, his cold-blooded and malicious deed, excited by envy, was held up as an awful warning to man. John said, "For this is the message that we heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." (I John 3: 11, 12). Envy caused it. The spirit of Cain will incite a murderous hand to be raised against a brother. It raised the bloody hand of hate against Jesus (Matt. 27: 18).
b. Envy is a sin of disposition that weakens and shrivels the soul. It is the sign of a little person. It makes him little because it steals from him bigness of character, nobility, and bortherhood, and gives him in return only the littleness of malice, infamy, and baseness. Envy is a despicable trait; it it is putrid and cheap, low-down and mean; it is "the rottenness of the bones" (Proverbs 14: 30). A tree may be strong, healthy, and pretty from outward apearnaces. A wind blows it down and you see, to your amazement, that it was rotten and eaten up on the inside. that is what envy will do to a person. It will cause him to rot and decay on the inside. It did that to Cain. Envy is distinguished from jealousy in that one may be envious of that which belongs to another, while he may be jealous of that which belongs to himself.
4. Selfishness restrained Cain from being his brother's keeper.
a. He was too self-centered to be concerned over his brother's welfare. His spirit is thus expressed: "The whole world must center around me, and nobody or nothing must get in my way." He loved himself too much to love anybody else.
b. The Bible: "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth" (I Cor. 10: 24). "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Phil 2: 4)
c. Others: "As frost to the bud, and blight to the blossom, even is self-interest to friendship; for condifence cannot dwell where selfishness is porter at the gate"--Tupper. "Sordid selfishness doth contract and narrow our benevolence, and cause us, like serpents, to infold ourselves within ourselves, and to turn our stings to all the world besides."--Walter Scott.
5. Cain's spirit was a renunciation of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.
a. Inasmuch as God is the Father of us all, then it naturally follows that we are all brothers (Isa. 64: 8; Eph. 4: 6).
b. As brothers in the human family, we have duties and obligations to each other. "Have we not all one father? hath not one God creaetd us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?"
c. The brotherhood of man demands that we be our brother's keeper, as seen in Mal. 2: 10. This is the link that holds mankind together. In watching for a brother's good we must do the following:
1. Love neighbor as self (Lev. 19: 18; Matt. 22: 39)
2. Restore the sinful (Gal. 6: 1)
3. Bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6: 2)
4. "Do good unto all men" (Gal. 6: 10)
5. "Give to him that needeth" (Eph. 4: 28)
6. "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12: 15)
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