My Sister’s Keeper. . .
Are you your sister’s keeper? Do you think you should be? I will just put it up front… At times I know we should be and at other times I believe we reserve the right to regard ourselves and our wellbeing above the needs or wants of others. However, let me be clear. Looking out for ourselves first should never cause harm or detriment to another person.
“AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”
I am grateful today the phrase “Am I my brother’s keeper?” has been given a more positive connotation. You’ve probably heard of organizations like “My Brother’s (or My Sister’s) Keeper” that embody this notion. But, even with the positive associations with the term now, I think it’s wise not to forget the origins of the phrase.
The phrase “Am I my brother’s keeper?” came after a murder in the Bible told in Genesis 4:9. Yes. It’s true. The first son on earth (Cain) killed his brother (Abel).
THE STORY OF CAIN AND ABEL
Cain and Abel were the children of Adam and Eve. Scripture tells us Cain was a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd. One day Cain brought some of his fruit that had fallen to the ground as an offering to the Lord. Afterward, Abel came and brought his first lamb, killed it, and presented the best parts of it to God as a sacrifice. And the Bible says God was well pleased with Abel’s offering, but Cain’s didn’t get the same stamp of approval. This infuriated Cain.
Well, as Cain began to sulk (jealous about his brother receiving greater approval than he did) the scripture infers God confronted Cain about his behavior; explaining to him if he didn’t learn to control his emotions, they would lead him to sin. God encouraged Cain to overcome those feelings of frustration and in the future work to put forth his best. Because remember, Cain brought God what had fallen to the ground, not his freshest fruit.
Unfortunately, Cain did not take heed of God’s advice. Instead, he beckoned his brother to the field where he then killed him. When God asked him where Abel was, Cain’s response was “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Because of his actions (and I’m sure that sly response) the Bible says God cursed Cain and made the land where he slayed his brother unproductive. Additionally, God cursed Cain to be a wanderer for the rest of his life.
Let’s dissect that.
THE DANGER OF ENVY AND COMPARISON
Because of Cain’s disdain for the attention his brother received from God…and his enraged reaction to kill him…God not only cursed what was around him to be unproductive, but He also cursed Cain to be a wanderer.
wan·der·er – a person who travels or roams around aimlessly without ever having a clear plan or purpose.
Can you imagine?!
Question. Have you ever looked upon your sister, friend, or fellow woman as your enemy or competition? Have you ever been unhappy or annoyed by the recognition someone else received? Let’s just be honest. We all have at some point. My prayer, however, is that most of us are in a better, more mature place today. But let’s admit, it takes us some time and growth to get to this place.
Thankfully, or I assume, most of you reading this blog have never physically killed your sister. But how many of us have either mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually hoped ill will or negative outcomes for her? Having feelings like these is very common when we (like Cain) are not our best or have failed to put forth our best effort. We look upon others with resentment when we ourselves have not put in the work or have not been consistent in the work we know needs to be done.
For whatever reason, in our immature or insecure state, we are unable to fathom why our fellow sister is more successful, more attractive, or why she is receiving more favor than we are. And because we envy the thing she has. . . the “it” factor that makes her stand out or more desirable . . . that part of her that causes others to be enamored by her. . . We hate her so much to the point we would do anything to take the light off of her. . .and somehow reposition it to illuminate us instead. Though we may in some moments gain a little visibility and notoriety, or some applause, does it benefit us if the spotlight is not meant for us, or it is not yet our season?
DO YOUR WORK
I hope by thinking of it this way, we can draw the connection to the scripture that when we respond in jealousy or comparison it “makes the land in which we dwell unproductive.” Some of us may be wondering why our pursuits are not going well. It may be because our attention and focus are in the wrong place. Rather than our attention being on what we need to do to better ourselves or to regulate our own thoughts and behaviors, we are concerned with stopping others from appearing better than us. Listen. If your sister has put in the work…LET HER BE GREAT!
TRUSTING GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
Sis, I want this scripture lesson, and this analogy to serve as encouragement to some and a warning to others. Be your sister’s keeper. Have her best interest in mind. Do unto her as you would have her to do unto you. Speak her name with positivity when she’s not in the room. Refer her for the job if you know her gifts and talents make her a good candidate. Don’t worry. Her light is not for your lamp. Be confident of Philippians 1:6 “…that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Another interpretation of that says, “…he is faithful to perform it” (fulfill it in front of an audience). Trust that.
God was trying to perfect Cain and his spirit of jealousy. He encouraged him to get it under control. But it seems that Cain was so determined to ensure his brother never outshined him again that he failed to trust God, and instead took matters into his own hands. Friend, trust your process, who God has said that you are, and trust His promises for you. You are the main character in your story. There is no one who can play you better than you. So then, you have no need to compete with anyone else.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING YOUR SISTER’S KEEPER
In the past few months, so many of my friends have had their share of trouble. Nothing financial or legal, but life’s struggles. I’ve had friends who have lost spouses either by separation, divorce, or death. Others have experienced trouble in their own health or the health of a loved one. There are friends who are being challenged with the decisions of their children. And then there are those who must take on the responsibility of caring for aging parents, or sadly…burying them. As grammatically incorrect as the statement might be, it is true. “LIFE BE LIFE-ING.”
For each of these friends, I wish I could just fix or change their circumstances somehow. Did either of these friends do anything to deserve the challenge they faced? Absolutely not. They are each beautiful, intelligent, kind, and compassionate. But John 9:3 suggests to us that life’s trials happen so that the works of God might be displayed. And what I’ve learned is that sometimes those displays will present themselves through others going through life with us . . . to lift us higher when things are good, or to help hold us up when things aren’t as favorable.
The tendency for humans to do things our own way and mistreat each other has been a proclivity we’ve had since Cain and continues to this day. We’ve needed constant reminders. Remember, God had to give Moses the Ten Commandments to tell us what to do and WHAT NOT TO DO. Remember them?
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make idols.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
A lot to remember, I know, but the New Testament gave us a simpler way to remember those commandments. In Luke 10:27 it says,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all you mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do you see that? When we love God with all our HEART . . . with all our MIND . . . and with all of our STRENGTH. . . we won’t put anything before Him. We’ll commit to learning more about Him and working to imitate Him. Then, by doing so, we will naturally love those around us better. . . to the point that we won’t speak ill of them, bring them harm, or covet what they have.
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Sis, when you love your neighbor…your sister… You can be her keeper. Truth is, she needs you more than you know. And you know what’s interesting? Though you may not always admit it, you need her too.
Today I encourage you. . . Call, text, and/or pray for that friend that has been on your mind. Reconcile with the friend that you may have disregarded or who may have disregarded you.
Like God told Cain, overcome that part of you that is quick to offend, be offended, or to become jealous or frustrated. God has a path specifically paved for you. So, in case you were wondering, what she does or doesn’t do…does nothing to thwart the plan God has for your life. Therefore, she is not your enemy. Don’t let focusing on her inappropriately cause you to wander aimlessly and miss the purpose set for you. As you continue on life’s journey, find out who God wants you to keep in your prayers and do so with intentionality. As you choose to bless and support others, you’ll find those blessings reciprocated towards you.
YOUR SISTER’S KEEPER
The story of Cain and Abel teaches us about the importance of treasuring those close to us and treating them with care. In other words…being keepers. The story depicts for us just how jealousy can lead to destruction and reminds us of the danger of envy and comparison, and how these feelings can lead to harm and devastation. Our failure to recognize the detriment of displaced behaviors can stifle our growth and cause productivity to be hindered.
To be our sister’s keeper means to do these things:
- Have her best interest in mind
- Speak positively of her
- Support her in her journey.
This comes as we learn to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. By drawing closer to Him and His likeness, we inevitably learn to love ourselves and others in a more fulfilling way. Trusting God’s plan for our lives and showing up as our true and authentic selves is essential to getting there. Why? Until we are secure in who we are and do the work that needs to take place in us, we truly can’t give our sister what she needs, and she can’t meet the needs we have. As we grow, we learn to bless each other and receive blessings in return. Today, let us choose to bless someone else, pray for them, and be intentional in our relationships. So, the next time you’re asked if you are your sister’s keeper…respond with “YES I AM!” and choose to keepHER.
I hope you enjoyed “My Sister’s Keeper.” If you did, please LIKE and SHARE, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and stay connected. For more blogs like this one, or for inspiration and motivation, check out these:
- How to Push Through Struggles and Become the MVP
- Rip Me Out the Plastic: 7 Steps to Achieve a Fresh Start the Season
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