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Are You, Your Brother’s Keeper?
Posted by Clare
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Last week, I had to make a hard call to a Christian guy I didn’t know all that well. This man is active in his church (not my church), has a great family and has a good reputation in the Christian community. But, a non-Christian man who I was meeting with, casually mentioned that he saw this guy at a social gathering having too much to drink and acting inappropriately with a woman, not his wife. “I thought you Christians didn’t do things like that,” was his stinging observation.

It hurt.

So, I called the man, introduced myself and passed on to him what I‘d been told. Fortunately, he took it very well and owned up to what had happened. He was clearly embarrassed by my call, but knew he was wrong.

But, he asked these questions, “How did you have the guts to call me? I could have just told you it was none of your business and I’m not accountable to you. What’s the difference between just being a Christian busy body and being your brother’s keeper?” Great questions!

It’s not my problem
The first person to utter the “Am I my brothers keeper?” excuse was Cain who had just killed his brother. (Genesis 4:9) But it’s been used a million times since, generally as an excuse to absolve someone from their personal responsibility to care for another. A modern paraphrase might be “It’s not my problem.”

But when a fellow Christian sins, especially publicly, it is our problem!

We have six children and until they got married, their name was tied to mine. They had different first names, but their last name was De Graaf. In doing so, their reputation and mine became intertwined. When they acted well, it made their mother and me proud. But when they didn’t, it made us look like poor parents – they made us look bad.

In the same way, anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, takes on Christ’s name. And when they do, their behavior either enhances or detracts from on Christ’s image in the world. But it also affects me and every other believer, because we belong to the same spiritual family.

Restoring a brother
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

It’s the responsibility of every believer to protect Christ’s reputation. When a brother sins, we have the responsibility to bring it to his attention and if necessary, restore him gently. We are our brother’s keeper.

That doesn’t mean you’re the moral police of your town. But it does mean when a fellow Christian you know has behaved sinfully or inappropriately, we have some responsibility to let them know what we’ve observed or what we’ve heard from credible witnesses. (And they have that same responsibility to us.)

But what about the “judge not, lest you be judged” passage in scripture? That Matthew 7 passage just may be the most often misquoted and least understood “teaching” in the Bible. If you want to find out why, please read my blog, Should Christians Judge One Another (

But, if you do decide to call a brother or sister to discuss something that concerns you, pray before you do. Ask the Holy Spirit to not only give you the words, but to prepare their heart to receive them. Restore a brother gently and the kingdom of God will be better off for it.

How following Jesus works in real life.

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Comments (2)
  1. Rick Theule said...

    Great post. Very timely for me right now. I wonder how often we miss out on a very important word in Galatians 6:1, “gently”.

    • Clare said...

      Rick, it’s my experience that almost all correction is painful and usually doesn’t feel “gentle” at the time. The key isn’t always how they feel, but the question is this; have we handled them as gently but biblically as we reasonably could? I think that will be the litmus test Jesus will apply to us.

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