By R.W. McAlister
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (Genesis 4:3-8)
This is the first recorded murder in the Bible and even worse, it was between two brothers. Cain killed his brother because of his jealousy over God accepting Abel’s offering, but not his own. Notice the question that God asked Cain. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9).
That’s an excellent question to ask ourselves today: Are we our brother’s keeper? Do we have a responsibility to love and care for one another?
As we study the Bible, it becomes very clear that the answer is “yes.” In fact, there are many passages which emphasize our responsibility to one another.
The Old Testament teaches the principle of being a “watchman” in several places. In Ezekiel 17:3, God appointed Ezekiel a watchman over Israel. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” In general, the watchman was to look after the well-being of others.
The Bible teaches us that we are to love one another. In fact, Jesus Himself commands it in John 13:34 & 35: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Now, think about how deep a love this is. Jesus wants us to love one another as He loved us, and we all know what He did for us, even though we didn’t deserve it. When we love each other like we’re supposed to, it makes Christianity very attractive to the sinner.
Notice what Paul has to say about this in Romans 13:8: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Also in I Thess. 4:9: “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
Peter also has some instructions for us regarding love. He writes in I Peter 1:22: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”
This word “fervently” means “intensely” and suggests that we should love one another with our whole heart. The apostle John, who has been called the apostle of love, writes, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12Not 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 Jn. 3:11 & 12).
You see, if Cain had possessed the kind of love that we are to have for one another, he would’ve never even considered killing his brother. Instead he would’ve been happy for him that God accepted his offering. This is the kind of thing that happens when we start replacing love with jealousy, rage, or bitterness toward our brother or sister in Christ. Now, we may not get to the point of killing someone, but we can certainly find ourselves thinking evil of them, which will lead us to sin. John says in I Jn. 4:11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
Dear Reader, we are our brother’s keeper and we must love one another. Think about it this week.
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/