Being one another's 'keeper'
Helping children learn about God's care
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Some kids were discussing this question in a Sunday School class. It's from the Bible story of Cain and Abel (see Genesis 4:1-13). Cain was so angry and jealous of his brother Abel that he killed him. Afterward, when God asked "Where is Abel?" Cain said he didn't know. That's when Cain asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" But he was really saying, "My brother is not my problem."
The students were sure that God's answer to the question would be, Yes, you are your brother's keeper. They decided they could think of everyone, not just people in their family, as their brother or sister. So all the kids at school are their brothers and sisters. And if you are being your brother's keeper, here are some examples of things you might do for other people: keep an eye on them so you'll know if they need help, be caring and nice, be encouraging to them.
If a friend of yours were doing something wrong, you'd talk with that friend to help him or her be good and stay out of trouble. If what he or she was doing were hurting your friend or others, you'd also tell an adult so that the friend could get help.
The kids gave specific examples of how to be a "keeper." You could help someone struggling with schoolwork. Or, as Sam said, "You can be a good sport if you lose a game, and not be jealous and get mad at the winners." Rebecca said, "You could pray for someone by knowing what God knows about them."
Robert made a point when he said, "I'm not doing as well in band as I'd like to right now. I'm not sure I can be a keeper there." That reminded them that sometimes we need a keeper ourselves. We can trust God to provide keepers for us when we need them.
Patricia said, "I think some kids need lots of keepers," and then she told about a boy at school who wants to be in with a certain group. He wants this so much that he lets those kids do bad things to him. Patricia thinks he needs to wake up and see what's happening. She knows that God made him and loves him.
Alex added that she knows a boy at school who plays the drums really well, but he always stays by himself. She thinks he needs a keeper, so she tries to be friends with him.
The students talked about how sometimes you can talk to others or do things for them. But sometimes you can't. Yet you can always be keepers in your thinking. They know that God loves them. So they know God must love everyone at school. They can feel God's love, so God must make sure each one can feel His love.
God made each of them to be His image and likeness, spiritual and perfect, so everyone at school must also be God's wonderful children. Each one is important to Him, and each is loved and cared for by Him. Each one can feel and know this. The kids know they can include everyone at school when they think about God's love.
Jesus was always helping people. In this way, he was showing us how to be a keeper. One time, Jesus told a story about the King who gathered together people who had helped him. Maybe they gave him food or clothing or something to drink, visited him when he was sick or in prison, or took care of him.
When the people said they didn't remember helping him, the King said that doing good for anyone was like doing good for him. Then he rewarded those people. The story is saying that helping others is like working for God. And God will reward you. (You can read the story in Matthew 25:31-40.)
It's natural for us to be our brother's keeper. God is Love, and He made us to be caring and kind to others. God shows us how to be a keeper what caring things to do and what to think. And when we need someone to watch out for us and care for us in some way, He will make sure we have a brother's keeper of our own.
'Love one another' (I John, iii. 23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)