“Am I my brother’s keeper?”… such a smarmy comment to make to the Creator of the Universe. There is so much to be learned from the fourth chapter in the book of Genesis.  I always wondered why God would set Cain up to lie, but then I started working with young children and I understood a little better. I’ve definitely asked questions that I already knew the answer to, not to force a lie, but as a character test. It takes great humility to announce your shortcomings up front. However, today I want to talk about the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

I have a lot of faults and weaknesses, and I have a lot to learn about humility and accepting criticism gracefully. I hate being corrected. However, lately I’ve had to ask myself, do I hate being corrected more than I hate disappointing God?… and the answer to that was a resounding “No”… So I had to reach out to friends in my small group (we call them caregroups) and ask for a trusted friend to keep me on track. In the past, even a little “should you really be eating that?” could ruin my whole day. I hated that someone else was watching and criticizing something so minuscule as a Hershey kiss going into my mouth, that I would sabotage my entire diet and pig out… and then feel terrible about myself and binge even more.  Even though now I have reached out for help, I still get the urge to freak out every time someone offers me a little “friendly advice.”

But I’m working on it.

Now, accountability in personal struggles is one thing, but what about community accountability? What are police officers if not accountability partners? We all know not to drink and drive, yet some people choose to, and thankfully there are police officers there to help set them on the right course. But who keeps them accountable? And the people above them? And above them?… We do. You see, we are all here to keep each other accountable. To check in, pat each other’s backs, and to set each other straight.

Here’s the catch:

Keeping someone honest and controlling their life are two totally different things. I can remind someone what the difference between right and wrong is, and let that conviction change their actions. When I try to control their actions, things usually backfire. Case in point. You know the “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” slogan? Well in my life, I call it the “friends don’t let friends drink until they black out and wake up in a stranger’s house” rule. Only, it didn’t work for me. I was a bit harsh and told her she was dumb…and then hung up on her and wouldn’t take her calls for a week. I was pretty sure that this method would help her see the error of her ways… only it didn’t. At 2am, I pick up the phone to sobs on the other end… not just mild tears, I’m talking inconsolable sobbing. She’d not only not taken my silent treatment as a sign to stop drinking… she went out on a bender and got caught as a minor… Not really the outcome I’d been hoping for. So my point in all this, is that in some respect, yes, we are our brothers’ keepers. We do need to look out for each other… but looking out for someone doesn’t mean controlling them into obedience.

So, if you’re struggling with something…weight, drugs, alcohol, sex… whatever your battle, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Or if you know someone who is struggling, don’t be afraid to be the voice that speaks the truth they need to hear. We all need help. We all need to know that we’re not alone. God uses people, especially people who feel considerably inept to do the job  which He has called them.


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