These words are familiar to you. You’ve heard them before. You may have asked them. You may also know that these are the words of Cain when he responded to the Lord’s question, “Where is your brother Abel?” The Lord didn’t answer his question directly but made it quite clear that not only was Cain Abel’s keeper but he also caught him in his sin of murder.

No one is being accused of murder, but this question that Cain poses is a very serious one that we should all take to heart, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In other words, “Is it my responsibility to be looking out for the physical and spiritual good of my brothers and sisters? It is your responsibility to help your brothers and sisters physically and to encourage them spiritually. You may already be answering, “It’s none of my business.” It is your business. Consider what the writer to the Hebrews said.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. Hebrews 3:12-14

It is your business to see to it that none of your brothers and sisters have an unbelieving heart that turns away from God or despises his Word and Sacrament. You are to encourage one another whenever and as long as you have the chance.

The congregation will meet for its quarterly voters’ meeting on July 22nd. At that meeting, there are dozens of members who are up for removal from membership because they have despised the Means of Grace. As the writer said, they are not holding firmly to the confidence they had at first. They haven’t been in worship, some for ten years or more, and they have not responded to the encouragement from their pastor or elders.

To despise the Means of Grace, the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, is quite simply a sin and so Scripture also urgently warns, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Hebrews 10:26,27

So how will you answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” or “I am my brother’s keeper.” It is still “called Today” so it is still time to encourage your brothers and sisters so they do not have an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. Some of these “brothers and sisters” are literally brothers and sisters in your family. Some are your children or grandchildren. Some are your close friends and some are your neighbors. But they are all your brothers and sisters in Christ. You are your brother’s and sister’s keeper. You are called to encourage.

Keep Christ First,

Pastor Chris Christenson