George Everard, 1885
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Genesis 4:9
Intense selfishness breathes in this question. Whoever acts in the spirit of it, knows nothing whatever of the power of true religion. Yet we fear it is a spirit that reigns in the world, and on all sides is hindering the kingdom of Christ and increasing the sorrow and misery that abounds.
When man fell away from God — at once there also arose separation between man and man. If a planet should lose the attraction of the sun and thus forsake its orbit, it might at once clash with some other planet and thus cause untold mischief. Thus when the soul loses the attraction of God's love and departs from Him — at once strife and division comes into the world, and the earth is filled with hatred, envy, and violence. Then comes the question of Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
You remember the man that fell among thieves. There he lay, wounded and half dead, stripped of his clothing; and had no friendly hand come to his aid, the end bad not been far off. But here come priest and Levite, and they see him in his misery, but they pass on their way and leave him to perish. They say in their heart, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
A ship is drifting on the wide ocean, having lost its rudder and its mast, and unable to reach the shore. Another ship passes not a mile off and her disabled condition is seen, but the captain cares only for his own ship and his own interest, and leaves her to her fate. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The same thing occurs in school life. What terrible cruelty is sometimes inflicted on another through practical jokes which would never have been planned or carried out, if there had been the very least regard for the feelings of another.
Often a younger lad is initiated into all sorts of evil, which never would have been done, had the elder lads remembered the great responsibility that rested upon them with respect to those under their influence.
Oftentimes the weak, retiring, or timid lad is put at an immense disadvantage through the rough conduct of one who lords it over others wherever he can. In a thousand ways — in the dormitory, in the playground, and elsewhere — lads forget what they owe to those about them. "Am I my brother's keeper?" is the language both of lip and action.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Never forget that this was the language of a murderer, and, in fact, revealed the spirit of murder that prompted the death of his brother. And he who acts on this principle now, is little better than a murderer in God's sight. One may kill another by his neglect or indifference, as well as by a blow or a knife. Yes, and many a lad has committed something worse than murder; for, by his conduct towards another, he has brought a blight upon his whole life and prospects, he has destroyed his character, and, it may be, has been the ruin of his soul.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Of course you are. Every man is your brother, and because of the tie of brotherhood, you are appointed of God to do all you can for him. It may be one who lives under the same roof, or the far-off Chinaman whom you have never seen; but to the utmost of your power you are to care for him and do him good.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
"Do unto others, what you would have them do unto you."
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
"Anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen — cannot love God, whom he has not seen."
Let this be a fixed rule and principle in your life — to regard every one as a friend and brother or sister, and to seek their good to the utmost of your ability. Try in this to follow the example of Christ. It will add immensely to your own happiness, and bring down no small blessing on others.
Especially have a care for those who are younger, or weaker, or less advanced than yourself. Stand up bravely for those who cannot protect themselves. Shield the inexperienced from the devilish arts of those who would persuade them to evil. Give a timely warning to those whom you see likely to fall.
And commit yourself, body and soul, to the care of that Elder Brother who loves to do a brother's part. He will never throw off the claim which faith has upon Him. He will be your keeper and guardian by night and by day. He will keep you even to life eternal.