I am by brother’s Keeper.
The first relationship between two brothers in the Bible didn’t end well. Cain killed Abel just because God preferred Abel’s sacrifice over him (Gen 4).The reason was simple – Abel offered his sacrifice with faith and sincerity of the heart while Cain just sacrificed as a normal action that he was obligated to do.
The repercussions of this very act was magnanimous. God was pleased with Abel but not with Cain. Cain was full of wrath and killed Abel, his brother. When God asked him where was Abel, his answer was disrespectful – am I my brother’s keeper? What followed was a curse so severe that he had to negotiate for a softer punishment.
What can we learn from this?
How would have Cain responded from the beginning?
In my view, he had the choice of learning from his younger brother about sacrifice but his self stood on the way. He had the ‘I am older than you’ syndrome. It got him a curse though.
We see the same syndrome with David’s brothers. David had to charge through this forest to get the King’s attention and later his confidence. We all know what happened afterwards in the valley of Elah (story for another day).
Back to Cain. He was his brother’s keeper but in denial because of the evil he had done. Most of the times we retract to this emplacement when we know too well that we are on the wrong.
We have a responsibility over our brothers. I do not imply that we should condon laziness, ineptitude and irresponsible living from them but we must seek to build and empower each other, for mutual benefit.
Another not so cordial brotherly relationship is displayed in the sons of Isaac – Esau and Jacob. Jacob purchased the birthright by a bowl of lentils soup. He later impersonated himself and got Esau’s fatherly blessings.
What ensued was a feud that lasted twenty years. Esau wanted to kill his brother. Jacob would later embark on the most risky journey of his life to make amends with his brother. It costed him (Gen 25 and 32).
When brothers fight, peace is a luxury. The consequences thereof can’t be understated.
On a positive note, we find a remarkable bond between Jonathan and David. Jonathan was a royalty and David was a warrior but their souls were knit together. Jonathan loved David as his own soul (1 Samuel 18).
During an instant, Jonathan gave David the following items that I find to have significant meaning which we can learn as men, and our lateral friendships:
1. His Robe.
The robe meant royalty and honor. It wasn’t worn by any common man.Our brotherly friendships must be laced with great respect for each other. We might not agree on everything and that’s okay. When I treat my brother with respect, that’s the least that is expected of me.Furthermore, I should cover him. In as much as I know his weakness, they are sacred to him. I am in no way supposed to expose them for the whole world to see.
2. His Armor.
This signifies protection. He knew that David was a man who lived by the sword and needed to be guarded. On the same breathe, we have an obligation to shield our brothers, whether elder or younger ones, against the wiles of the world. The world can be so unforgiving for a lone ranger. We need to walk together.
3. His Sword.
The sword was a means to fight. It was the weapon of choice in those days. It was a means to survive. We must help where we can. We can build and promote each other so that we move as one entity. I do understand that it’s easier said than done. I have been there too. But some little effort would go a long way.
4. His Bow.
The bow was a very important weapon because it was used to catapult an arrow to inflict injury on the enemy far away – where the sword could not reach. In the same way, we are obliged to help our brothers achieve their goals and realise their dreams. Some will need to be infused the vision. Some have the arrows, they only need a bow. Encourage each other and cheer him on when he is making progress. Don’t be jealous. Why should you have sleepless nights. Be zealous about your brothers progress. Prosper together.
5. His Belt.
The belt binded everything together. It fastened the robe on the body. It also acted as a harness for the sword. It held everything together. The belt signifies character.
Discipline is brewed in character.
Blessings are sustained by character. Wealth is gotten and sustained by character. This is of paramount importance. A man full of wisdom, knowledge and understanding has the right attitude towards life. He is a man of good repute. A man of character. We become better, together, when we build healthy brotherly bonds which are laced with sincere concern for each other. A real brother does not sit back and watch his brother disintegrate. He will warn him and sometimes snatch him from the predicament he’s about to get himself into. Real brothers watch over each other for the betterment of themselves and those they love. Brotherly concern is a selfless way of living. Some brothers are by blood and some are not. Sometimes, those that are not stick closer.
Either way, you are your brother’s keeper.