Monday, July 30, 2012

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Our daughter Jordan, son-in-law C.J., Rilyn and
     This past weekend, I was called upon to babysit for our daughter and son-in-law as they helped our middle son and his family move into a new home.  Caring for a three year old active little boy and his nearly four month old sister takes a lot of energy but it was worth every moment I spent with them.  Since my husband went to help with the move, I was on my own all day.
     Part way through the afternoon, I decided I would start a project with Gavin when he got up from his nap.  Wanting to make some memories, I decided I would bake some chocolate chip cookies and involve him in the process.  This was a great idea but also a big challenge since baby sister Rilyn had a rough afternoon.  It was as though she wanted to sleep but refused to allow herself the rest she needed.
     When Gavin got up, we began working on the cookies.  I sat little Rilyn in her bouncy seat in the kitchen close by so she could watch us.  Gavin started off well with the project and was excited to make "his" cookies, but halfway through, he got bored and started driving his toy cars through flour that had spilled on the counter.
     Once we got the cookies in the oven, little Rilyn had enough of her bouncy seat.  She was hungry plain and simple.  I tried to feed her the bottle and then, the timer went off.  I was caught in a pinch.  She needed a bottle and I needed to get the cookies out of the oven.  I thought I could stop her bottle feeding long enough to retrieve the cookies but this led to a loud wailing on her part.  At this point, Gavin said, "I can help you Grammie.  I will give her the bottle."  He hopped down from the kitchen chair and proceeded to hold the bottle for his baby sister who was ever so pleased to be reunited with her food source.

Gavin my helper and his sister's keeper
     As I watched the two of them on the kitchen floor, my heart flooded with emotion.  Every now and then, Rilyn would stop taking the bottle to smile at her brother.  It was then that I thought about how God wants us to treat one another.  We are to be our brother's keeper.  However, when sin first entered the world, the relationship between two brothers was not a loving picture.
     Most of us know the story of Cain and Abel the sons of Adam and Eve.  Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd.  When it came time to bring a sacrifice to the Lord, Cain brought some grain and Abel his best lamb.  God accepted Able's sacrifice because he had brought his best with a heart motive that was right before the Lord.  Cain, on the other hand, did not bring a sacrifice that pleased the Lord either in substance or heart attitude, and God rejected it.  The Lord warned him that sin was crouching at his door and he could stand against it.  Instead, Cain allowed his heart to become angry and jealous towards his brother.  With malice, Cain murdered his brother and buried his body.
     According to the Bible, this is what happened next:  "Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?'  'I don't know,' he replied, 'Am I my brother's keeper?'  The Lord said, 'What have you done?  Listen!  Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground'" (Genesis 4:9-10).  Here was the exact opposite of what I witnessed yesterday between three year old Gavin and his baby sister.  God's intent for relationships is to demonstrate love and respect.  We are to have hearts willing to help one another not doing things begrudgingly, but with joy to honor our Lord.
     How many conflicts could be ended, what strife could be avoided and how many hurt feelings could be spared if only we would learn to be our brother's keeper?  It does take some time and a little extra effort, but the reward is feeling the pleasure of God and knowing we have done the right thing.  In Cain's case, he chose the selfish way and took the life of his brother destroying family unity and breaking fellowship with God.  What did he gain?  He gained a life as a marked man.

     In Christ, we have the opportunity to serve like Gavin did the other day.  He humbled himself to help his baby sister.  He was his sister's keeper.  Can we do any less?  Whom can we serve today?  Can we give up our own rights and be willing to help others even if we have done it many times before?  We all must remember the words of Jesus when He said, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,  you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40).  We live and serve the Lord when we act as our brother's keeper.  Selah!


Christina said...

Tears in my eyes, Barbara! This is a really beautiful reflection and right in line with what I believe God has been showing me through his Word and in the providences of my own life. While our relationship with God is the most important of all relationships, we are not at peace with God. As Christians, we ought to be striving for the same gentleness that He has with us -- and especially to the weaker brother or sister. Your grandchildren are precious! God bless your family!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you as always for visiting and sharing your thoughts Christina. It is a blessing to know and communicate with one another how God is working in our lives. This is what brings us encouragement!

Gpd's blessings!