In Genesis 4:1-15 we see a familiar Scripture, “…Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain had just killed his brother Abel. God approached him and asked him “Where is Able your brother?” We know that Omniscient God knew exactly where Abel was…dead. So why ask? I think that it was a call to accountability and an opportunity for Cain to confess and repent. Instead, Cain responded with a lie and in sarcasm to Almighty God. He rejected accountability for all of his wrong doing, and whined like a baby when he was banished. Still only caring about self!
Christians unfortunately can be like Cain. Often we reject efforts to hold us accountable and we neglect to hold others accountable. Have you observed the immediate tension when you say to someone, “I missed you at prayer meeting on Wednesday; is all okay?” How do you respond when someone asks you the same?
God has ordained accountability in the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13) The body of Christ is a universal body of people who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In the local body, Christians have the opportunity to grow in Christ through the teaching of the Word, fellowship of the saints, exercise of spiritual gifts, and to grow in love for one another. As with the human body, each part is fully dependent upon the other part to function optimally. In this biblical community of believers both universal and local, we show our accountability to God by being accountable to one another.
Let’s examine 1. Why we resist accountability; look at 2. The Biblical solution; and 3. Evaluate how we are doing as our Sisters’ Keeper?
1. Why We Resist Accountability? A simple answer is Pride.
Cain was the quintessential example of this age old problem of pride.
- Cain wanted to do things his way not God’s way. So do we.
- Cain became very angry and depressed when his way was rejected. So do we.
- Cain rejected God’s counsel to do what’s right. (Gen 4:6-7) So do we.
- Cain’s anger and pride spiraled out of control resulting in destruction of life and family. Our pride can result in destruction of relationships too.
- Cain never repented. If we are like this, then we need to examine ourselves to see if we are even a Christian. (2 Cor 13:5)
2. A Biblical Solution: Biblical Community — Accountability to One Another
Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
We are so prone to sin, that we have to be exhorted daily not to harden our hearts against God.
Exhorting includes proactively encouraging one in the Word to continue to obey God but it also includes admonishing one another in love when we see our sister flirting with sin.
In Ezekiel 3:16-21 we see exhortations that can be applied to biblical community today. God tells Ezekiel to warn the wicked and the righteous to change from sinful ways. If they change, great. But if they didn’t change, then God would not hold Ezekiel responsible. However, if Ezekiel did not warn them, then God would hold Ezekiel responsible, “ his blood will be required at your hand”. This should cause us to admonish even when we get negative responses!
We must be open to admonishment by others. Admonishment is a two-way street.
Early in my marriage I took everything so seriously and stressed out about everything! My dear friend, Grace, tried to encourage me over the humps and bumps of marriage. At one point, she had to just say to me “Carolyn, you better get a sense of humor about this stuff in marriage or you are not going to make it! You get too upset about every little thing your husband says or does.” Initially I rejected her words but I swallowed my pride and took heed. Thirty seven years later, I still thank my friend for her admonition to me as a young wife.
3. Evaluation: How Am I Doing as My Sisters’ Keeper?
- Do I watch after my fellow sisters in the flock like a Shepherd who keeps His sheep?
- Do I pray for my sisters by name asking God to protect them from the wicked one and from the snare of sin?
- Do I faithfully go to church services and events (Hebrews 10:23-25) on a mission to seek out a sister to encourage in the Lord?
- Do I actively seek out those straying from the flock and attempt to disciple them?
- Do I trust God for courage to admonish a sister in love?
- Do I willingly allow the sisters to be my keeper too?
So the answer to Cain’s modified question…
Am I My Sisters’ Keeper? Yes, indeed I am! And so are you!
How are we doing?