What does it mean to be your “Brother’s Keeper”? Does it mean being there when the person needs you? Or is it more than that?
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
– Genesis 4: 9
I was thinking of my present relationships and I wondered to myself if they really hold as much value as I claim they do. I started to question the true meaning of friendship and being there for someone and the first thing to come to my mind is being my brother’s keeper.
Now, I think to be your brother’s keeper means a whole lot more than we may want to accept, because that means it will take work and time…But isn’t that what friendships and relationships are really about? The work we put in to keep them alive?
“If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
I think, as with many other teachings of the Bible, we have come to water down and rationalize the teachings and expectations of God. But even if you don’t want to look at this from a religious perspective, how strong can a friendship or relationship be if we just do the bare minimum when it suits us? If we leave things at, “She knows I am here for her” instead of showing her that you are there?
It is such a great thing, and maybe a not so great thing, that Google was invented, because it saved me time on finding passages in the Bible that speaks to us being there for each other or being each others’ keepers. So I will try to tie what I have found, with my own view on what this means to me. I know I have not been practicing this, but in my heart I believe we should be doing way more than we believe we are now.
- Show Love; It is so funny, that as soon as I typed this, a car passed and the words of the song said “Love is, call on me sister.” Loving someone and showing it is a part of being that person’s keeper. It is not about just caring when it is convenient, it is about lending a helping hand, sharing kind words or being a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear. There are many times we need people far more than we are comfortable to express, but there is that moment when someone is there for you and you feel as if all hope is not lost. Now don’t be fooled, people know when you are not genuine, they know when you are more curious than caring and loving. They also know when you are doing things out of perceived obligation or pity, so it is up to us to find it in our hearts to do this because we want to, and no so much because it is expected of us.
- Show Kindness
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” – Matthew 25:35
There are so many ways in which we can show kindness to one another. We can buy a friend lunch, lend them a book or help them to clean their house. At Church of the Resurrection, a part of helping the elderly in church is by visiting them to read with them, listen to them and also help out around the house. So whether it is washing, sweeping or straightening up, we are helping them out and showing them kindness.
Being kind is about being there for someone and helping them with something that they may need. Also, being kind is a great way of improving self, you are much happier when you are kind to others. So if that means a compliment then you put a smile on their face and you light a spark in their hearts. We all just need someone to care, and honestly if we decided to be each others’ keepers, we would not have a lot of the problems we do now. But as with everything else, we as humans limit ourselves and we struggle.
- Feel the urge to do more…
Now I was talking to a few of my friends, just to get an understanding of their view on this lost topic, and I must say I was not very shocked. I was not shocked because this is how I have been behaving though I know it is not right. We have somehow convinced ourselves that being our brother’s keeper means doing the best we can when we can. But are we really looking out for others, or just ourselves? Being your brother’s keeper should not be when you are comfortable or when you have time; it should be a constant practice in our lives. It should also not be limited to family members and close friends, sometimes the persons that need our help the most are those we don’t look to help.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
As we grow, we change and we develop. What was our best in primary school, is certainly not our best now. This is the same in our relationships with each other. Yes maybe 4 years ago, the best you could do was a pat on the back or “I’m sorry”, but certainly now should be different. It should be different because we should be pushing ourselves to do more and be more for each other. Yes, we need to strike a balance between being someone’s crutch and their keeper. We should also strike a balance between taking care of ourselves and others. But honestly, are we really trying to do as much as we can? Or are we stuck in the mindset that we are doing our best, especially with all we have to deal with? I know that I am not doing my best, and I can say that to anyone, because now I can actually work on that. We should all look into our hearts, take the time to reflect on our friendships and relationships and be honest with ourselves. Could things be better if we gave a little bit more?
The mind is a powerful part of who we are, it has the ability to help us to cope with challenging thoughts. For example, a part of you feels as if you are not there enough for the people around you, but then you have so much on your plate you can’t possibly find the time. You know what your mind does? It convinces you that you are doing enough. Don’t get me wrong, maybe you are really doing enough, but I also know that we make time for the things that are important to us, and even if it is for 5 minutes, we can reach out to someone just to send them a picker upper, whether they may need it or not. I mean, don’t we need it sometimes too? Not a whole therapy session, but just a “Hey, I am proud of you. I know you may get tired, but hang in there because you have immeasurable strength.” We do.
- We need to look out for each other…
This may be a touchy topic because some people may say “not everyone wants help from others” and maybe you are right, but does that stop us from trying? Everyone may not believe they need saving, but it didn’t stop Jesus from dying for our sins so that we can be saved right?
“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” – Nehemiah 4:14
The Bible tells us to fight for our brothers and our family. It did not tell us, “Ask them if they need help then offer it”, we got that thought from somewhere else. So no, I do not believe that being my brother’s keeper means I ask him if he is okay when he seems a bit down. It means I constantly look out for him and check up on him even when he may not be showing signs that he needs it. Like I said, I am guilty of it too, but that does not make it right.
An example came to mind and I will share it because, well I don’t see a problem sharing it.
Jane, Sally, Jessie and Kelly are all friends. Now one day, Jane hears something from Janet about Kelly, something she knows Kelly would not have said to everyone. So, Jane becomes worried and feels the need to warn Kelly. But she doesn’t really warn her, she just enhanced her suspicions of everyone else. Because what she says to Kelly is, “Be careful of who you tell stuff because I heard something from someone, and I am sure you didn’t tell them.”
Now honestly, is that being your brother’s keeper? Fully, anyways? I don’t believe so. It would appear as if Jane is trying to save herself in case Kelly decides to confront the source, and who does that help? Not Kelly.
This is just an example but you get the idea; we have to look out for each other, even if that means it may cause a little conflict. So if you saw your best friend’s boyfriend with another girl, don’t go around being cryptic and sending hints. Let her know, regardless of the fact that she may get upset with you and not believe you. Because, sometimes the right thing to do and the hard thing to do… are the same things.
Well there you have it, those are my thoughts. They are not Gospel and have not been written in stone, and they also do not cover the full meaning of being your brother’s keeper, but they are simply my thoughts. I am open to comments and constructive criticisms; I mean how else can we learn?
Thank you for reading, until next time.