Too often, in an attempt to justify our own inaction, we have asked, in one way or another, “Am I my brother’s keeper.”
Bernie A. Van De Walle
The devotion I read today got me thinking, which I guess is the whole reason behind doing devotions. 🙂 Van De Walle talks about the story of Cain and Abel and says that when God asked Cain where his brother was Cain made two denials. The first was that he didn’t know what happened to his brother. The second was telling God more or less that it wasn’t his (Cain’s) responsibility to know or even care about where his brother was. Van De Walle states that most of us have not committed murder but too many of us use the second excuse, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper”? What in essence he is suggesting is that we are not all that far removed from being like Cain. Ouch! This is a pretty harsh, or is it?
Could we in fact be going through our lives with blinders on our eyes to what the plight is of those around us? What are we saying to God when we go around with these blinders on? Aren’t we in fact then telling God that we are not our brother’s keeper? Why then do we do this? Could we be telling ourselves that we are not “equipped” to deal with “certain” situations and that someone else will come along who is in a better “position” to handle things. Now don’t get upset with me. I know that there are some of you out there who really take to heart the injustices that others have to deal with. I’m talking about those of us who are still quite comfortable with our blinders in place. I’m also talking to those of us who still have no idea that we have blinders on in the first place. We are walking around blind because if we can’t “see” the problem then we won’t be asked to try to “do” something about it.
Van De Walle suggests that we could be taking part in a social phenomenon called “the bystander effect”.
Sociologists have noted that this lack of responsibility for the welfare of others grows exponentially when the number of potential helpers to a particular need also grows. … Human nature, it seems, is always ready to assume that someone else will take care of those in need – I do not need to bother, I do not need to act. Surely someone else will. Surely someone else is better equipped.
Bernie A. Van De Walle
So now comes the application part… How do I know if I am playing into “the bystander effect”? The very fact that you are now aware that there is such a thing as “the bystander effect” will make you less likely to participate in it.
How do I know if I have blinders on or not? Well the problem with this is that if you have them on then your are not aware that they are there. Pray and ask God to remove any blinders that you may have in place. Ask Him to show you the world through His eyes. Remember in order to change something you first have to acknowledge that there is something that needs changing. Just be open to the possibility that you may have these blinders in place. 🙂
Now let’s address the aspect of our “want to”. Maybe you don’t want to ask God to remove the blinders because you are afraid of what you might see and then of what God might ask you to do. Here’s the thing…if God asks you to do something then He has already equipped you to do it! Don’t be afraid, ever, of what God has asked you (us) to do or is going to ask us to do. Because it is not by our might that we accomplish things but by the might and power of the Holy Spirit that resides inside of each believer in Christ. This is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead…so really…what is there to be afraid of? Here it is again…if God asks you…He HAS already equipped you with everything you could need to get the job done! All you have to do is believe it!
YES, We ARE our brother’s keeper!