Sabbath, April 16, 2016
“It is not pleasing to God to see man looking only upon his own things, closing his eyes to the interests of others.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 137.
“By helping others they increase their own happiness and usefulness.” –The Adventist Home, p. 485.
“It is in a life of service only that true happiness is found.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 272.
Where are the others?
1. How did Cain answer the Lord’s question as to where his brother was? Is this an uncommon thought, or is it a typical response? What does the Lord say of those who are unwilling to care for others?
Genesis 4:9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Psalm 10:13, 14 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it. 14Thou hast seen it: for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
“At our very doors, all about us, on every side, there are souls to be saved, souls perishing–men and women dying without hope, without God–and yet we feel unconcerned, virtually saying by our actions, if not by our words, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ ” –(Review and Herald, August 14, 1888) Christian Service, p. 93.
2. Should we care only about ourselves, or is it our duty and privilege to be our brother’s keeper?
Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Ezekiel 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
“Brethren and sisters in the faith, does the question arise in your hearts, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ If you claim to be children of God, you are your brother’s keeper. The Lord holds the church responsible for the souls of those whom they might be the means of saving. (Historical Sketches, p. 291)….
“These men who lost their lives in trying to save others are eulogized by the world as heroes and martyrs. How should we who have the prospect of eternal life before us feel, if we do not make the little sacrifices that God requires of us, for the salvation of the souls of men?” –(Review and Herald, August 14, 1888) Christian Service, pp. 13, 93, 94.
Implications of brotherhood
3. Although we are of different races, nations, tongues, and cultures, what is said about humankind? Therefore, what are we all by creation?
Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Acts 7:26 And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
“No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan’s circle the poor souls who have been deluded by his deceptions. It places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise.
“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. All are brought nigh by His precious blood. Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:13.
“Whatever the difference in religious belief, a call from suffering humanity must be heard and answered. Where bitterness of feeling exists because of difference in religion, much good may be done by personal service. Loving ministry will break down prejudice, and win souls to God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 386.
4. What broad implications are contained in this great truth? What does it mean to be one’s brother’s keeper in the first place?
Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“He who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, will reflect the purity and love which exist in Jehovah, and which Christ represented in our world. He who has the love of God in his heart has no enmity against the law of God, but renders willing obedience to all His commandments, and this constitutes Christianity. He who has supreme love to God will reveal love to his fellow men, who belong to God both by creation and redemption. Love is the fulfilling of the law; and it is the duty of every child of God to render obedience to His commandments….” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 51.
Love and the gospel message
5. If our hearts are truly full of love for our brethren, what will be the first evidence?
Philippians 1:14, 17 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear…. 17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
“God is calling for men who are willing to leave their farms, their business, if need be their families, to become missionaries for Him. And the call will be answered. In the past there have been men who, stirred by the love of Christ and the needs of the lost, have left the comforts of home and the society of friends, even that of wife and children, to go into foreign lands, among idolaters and savages, to proclaim the message of mercy. Many in the attempt have lost their lives, but others have been raised up to carry on the work. Thus step by step the cause of Christ has progressed, and the seed sown in sorrow has yielded a bountiful harvest. The knowledge of God has been widely extended and the banner of the cross planted in heathen lands….
“Paul’s heart burned with a love for sinners, and he put all his energies into the work of soul winning. There never lived a more self-denying, persevering worker. The blessings he received he prized as so many advantages to be used in blessing others. He lost no opportunity of speaking of the Saviour or of helping those in trouble. From place to place he went, preaching the gospel of Christ and establishing churches. Wherever he could find a hearing, he sought to counteract wrong, and to turn the feet of men and women into the path of righteousness.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 370, 367.
6. When we see our neighbor truly as a brother, what will we be willing to do?
Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
“We are commanded to ‘do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.’ Galatians 6:10. In our benevolent work special help should be given to those who, through the presentation of the truth, are convicted and converted. We must have a care for those who have the moral courage to accept the truth, who lose their situations in consequence, and are refused work by which to support their families. Provision should be made to aid the worthy poor and to furnish employment for those who love God and keep His commandments. They should not be left without help, to feel that they are forced to work on the Sabbath or starve…. It is of this class especially that the Lord speaks when He says: ‘Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.’ Isaiah 58:7.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 85.
7. May we neglect or delay carrying out this holy principle? What is promised to all who love their brothers?
James 2:15, 16 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Matthew 25:41, 45 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…. 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Acts 20:35 I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
“Any neglect on the part of those who claim to be followers of Christ, a failure to relieve the necessities of a brother or a sister who is bearing the yoke of poverty and oppression, is registered in the books of heaven as shown to Christ in the person of His saints. What a reckoning the Lord will have with many, very many, who present the words of Christ to others but fail to manifest tender sympathy and regard for a brother in the faith who is less fortunate and successful than themselves….” –Welfare Ministry, p. 210.
“It is in a life of service only that true happiness is found. He who lives a useless, selfish life is miserable. He is dissatisfied with himself and with everyone else.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 229.
For further study
1 Corinthians 10:24
Isaiah 58:10-12; 20:35
“Happiness that is sought from selfish motives, outside of the path of duty, is ill balanced, fitful, and transitory; it passes away, and the soul is filled with loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and satisfaction in the service of God.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 124, 125 (1892); Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 644.
“But remember that happiness will not be found in shutting yourselves up to yourselves…. Seize upon every opportunity for contributing to the happiness of those around you. Remember that true joy can be found only in unselfish service.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 362.
I met a Christian merchant who was visited by a broker who sold items from a catalog. One day the merchant said to himself, I have dealt with this broker for nine or ten years now, and we have met almost every day. He has brought me his merchandise, and I have paid for it; but I have never tried to do something good for him. This is not correct. Providence has placed him in my way, and I must at least ask if he loves Jesus.
Now, the next time the broker came, this good brother did not feel and believe it appropriate to start a religious conversation. The broker never returned. His son delivered the products. “What happened?” asked the merchant.
“Daddy died,” the boy replied.
That merchant, a close friend of mine, told me a little later: “I could never forgive myself. That day I could not stay at work. I felt responsible for the blood of that man. I had no thought of that before. How I can get rid of the guilt when I remember that my foolish shyness shut my mouth?”
Dear friends, we are responsible for our brothers, for their lives, for their future, for their salvation. Do not bring terrible remorse on yourself but speak and help them, give them the message; and it will be a blessing also for you. –Adapted from C.H. Spurgeon, quoted in A. Lerín, 500 Ilustraciones, No. 485.