"Am I my brother's keeper?"
Cain and Abel may be the most famous brothers in history. Cain was the older and he was a farmer. Abel tended sheep, and God was pleased with the several choice lambs he would offer to God. Cain on the other hand, brought God leftovers. A Jewish writer said he offered hemp seed or flax, trifling things. One wonders why he bothered to bring anything to God at all! And God made His displeasure known.
This made Cain very angry. We can see how unbridled anger leads to bigger and bigger sin. God tells Cain to control the demon lurking at the door. "You can be its master!" God instructs. But Cain succumbs to his rage and murders his brother!
In the next scene of this tragedy, God asks Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" Doesn't God know where? Of course He does, but just as in this whole narrative He chooses to teach His truths patiently, He asks this simple question. Cain answers with the disingenuous , "Am I my brother's keeper?" Am I supposed to keep track of everywhere he goes? Am I responsible for him?
In Ezekiel 33:7-9, the Lord makes clear we are responsible for our brothers and sisters. We are supposed to warn them when they are sinning! We are supposed to be in good relationships with them, taking care to reconcile with them before coming to offer sacrifices on the altar (Matthew 5:24). It is obvious here that God did not accept Cain's offering because it was not first- fruits, but also because there was something festering in his heart against his brother.
Lord, You made us stewards not only of what we have, but also of our relationships. We are supposed to watch out for each other, call each other on as we journey towards heaven. Help me, Lord, to see if there is anything festering in me that needs to be uprooted, cleansed and exposed that I may be pleasing in Your sight!