Maybe one of the most famous quotes from the book of Genesis comes from Genesis 4:9 – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In context, Cain had just murdered his brother Abel and was trying to avoid telling God where his brother was. Fast forward to today and that is still a popular question. So, what is the answer? Am I my brother’s keeper?
The New Testament answers this question quite clearly; yes. There are over 130 instances where Paul uses the term “brother” in talking about fellow Christians. In fact, the Hebrew writer goes as far as to make the claim that Christ is not ashamed to call His followers “brethren.” (Heb. 2:11) This term points to the crucial familial relationship in Christianity. Brotherhood is a sharing of a common blood and Christians share in their relationship to the blood of Christ. (Eph. 1:7) Not only that, but we share in our bonds to a heavenly Father. (Eph. 4:6) Christianity is a brotherhood and this implies a care for one another.
Several times and in several verses, Christians are called to have a care and concern for one another. Passages such as James 2:14-16 show us that a selfish mindset avails to nothing. On the other hand, there are imperative verses like 1 Corinthians 10:24 that tell us to seek the well-being of others. John points out that Christians are to love one another, but he makes an important distinction – Christians are to love one another as brethren, unlike Cain who was wicked towards his brother. (1 Jn. 3:11-15) Christians are to love one another and that involves encouraging one another. We are to provoke one another to love and good works. (Heb. 10:24) And if a brother stumbles, we are supposed to be brother keepers and help them regain their footing. (Gal 6:1)
So, am I my brother’s keeper? If you are a Christian, then the answer is a resounding yes. Christians are brethren, family, and as such we should have a care and concern for one another. We are not to lord over one another, but we are to take care of one another. (Matt. 20:24-25) To love one another as a family should love one another.