I Am My Brother’s Keeper…
In the Old Testament record of Cain and Abel, Cain was was called upon by the Lord to account for his brother. “And the Lord said unto Cain, ‘Where is Abel thy brother?’ And he said, ‘I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Genesis 4:9). This beginning of days, so to speak, history of two of the sons of Adam and Eve is an early lesson in accountability for one’s brother, neighbor or fellowman. Jesus of Nazareth reiterated the importance of regarding our fellowmen when He asked, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:37).
The question of accountability for our acts, and for those whom we encounter in our walk of life, is often discounted by some who would not take responsibility for their own actions or the needs of the community that surrounds them. We all at times put the desires of our own hearts, or rather the lusts of our desires, ahead of more important needs and people who we could impact with thoughtful and compassionate action. It is said that true followers of Christ should always care for those in need. This is a sign of true discipleship. The Lord declared, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:40).
Elder Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, expressed concern for the times in which we live and the lack of personal accountability that is so often exhibited by so many. “We live in perilous times when many believe we are not accountable to God and that we do not have personal responsibility or stewardship for ourselves or others. Many in the world are focused on self-gratification … [and] do not believe they are their brother’s keeper. In the Church, however, we believe that these stewardships are a sacred trust…. My hope is that each of us will review individually and as families the stewardships for which we have responsibility and accountability.”
Elder Cook well spoke the need for this review, reexamination and recommitment to our God assigned stewardships, for if we will not reach out an uplifting and generous hand to our brothers and sisters in so many needs, we will endure the sore consequences of not following the Savior’s example. Our peace is dependent upon the peace we provide for others. “Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls” (Doctrine and Covenants 56:16).
Of the need for accountability for our personal stewardships, assigned duties, and caring for the poor and needy, President Spencer W. Kimball explained, “In the Church a stewardship is a sacred spiritual or temporal trust for which there is accountability. Because all things belong to the Lord, we are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties. A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy.”
In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus taught that we all should be neighbor to those whom we encounter, even strangers fallen on the side of life’s highways. If a perceived enemy of the Jews, a Samaritan, could help without question a wounded member of a rival community, surely no one should be exempt from the generous and kind outreach of our God-given hands.
May we act as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ with open arms and outreached hands to provide aid and comfort to all those in need, and fulfill our natural stewardships as sons and daughters of the Most High, brothers and sister all of us. Let us answer well the Lord’s concerned and accounting inquiry, worthily declaring with humility, “I am my brother’s keeper.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.