"Where is thy brother?" Genesis 4:9
Here is a young man. He is the only son of a widowed mother, whose
husband died and left her bankrupt. She has toiled hard to give her son an education. She
has watched over him with the tenderest care, and he leaves home with high hopes of being
a comfort and blessing to that mother in her declining years. He has gone down to college,
and, as is so often said, he is "easily influenced." If he is easily influenced
for bad, why not for good? Somebody has tempted him, and has led him into sins of which he
had never dreamed. He has fallen into the depths of wickedness, and is fast reaping the
wages of sin.
Many a young man has gone from a home like that, and before his college
course has closed has been put into his coffin and sent back to his mother. Where is thy
brother? Where is he? Is your answer going to be like that of Cain: "Am I my
brother’s keeper? What is that to me? I have nothing to do with Abel. I shift the
responsibility. I deny that I am responsible for anyone. I mind my own business, and let
every man mind his. I am not going to take any interest in that man".
In a western city, some years ago, they tried to get a very influential
merchant to throw his influence against the saloon. He was a temperance man and had a
lovely family, but he thought it might affect his business if he should identify himself
with prohibitionists. He had influence enough to have carried that town for no license;
but he said it was none of his business, and would not interfere. The town voted for
A few months later he went to the station, with his carriage and his
footman, to get his wife and daughter, who were coming from the East. The train failed to
arrive, and soon it flashed over the wires that there had been a wreck, and that this
man’s wife and daughter were dead. When they came to make an investigation they found
that the engineer was drunk.
Was it none of that man’s business whether or not liquor was sold?
Some years ago a man living on the banks of a lake, one cold night when the thermometer
was below zero, heard a cry of distress. A man out skating had gone through the ice, and
it is supposed that he had got hold of the ice, and kept his head above the water, and
called for help. The man heard his cries, but said: "It is none of my business. It is
a cold night, and I don’t want to get up and go out. No one had any business to go
out there skating, anyway."
The cries became fainter and fainter, and finally ceased. The next day
the body was found. The man was foolish enough to tell what he had heard, and that whole
population rose up in indignation and hounded him out of town. They said he wasn’t
fit to live among them. Everyone would say, "That is true"; and yet is he any
worse than one who will see a young man go down through drink, and not lift his hand to
help him? Where is thy brother?
There is a story told of a great storm on the coast. The life boat was
being manned, and a mother came rushing down to the shore to find that her boy was going
out in it. She cried: "My boy, it will kill me to have you go. You know you are all I
have left. Willie was lost at sea. Don’t go." But there was the wreck out there,
and men on the wreck, and he felt compelled to go and rescue his fellow men. The mother
saw that boat rise and fall on the billows, and it seemed as if the storm would dash it to
pieces, and all would be lost. At last they reached the wreck, and rescued the men. That
mother listened, and looked out into the storm that seemed to be raging harder and harder.
By and by the boat came near enough so that the son could call to his mother. He put his
hand to his mouth, and cried: "Mother, I’ve saved Willie!" His own brother,
whom they thought was lost, was on board. Oh, friends, have you ever tried to save anyone?
I do not ask you if you have succeeded, but have you ever tried? God pity the man who
never tried to save anyone! God pity him! If you haven’t, make up your mind today
that you will do it. Wouldn’t you like to have the joy that they have in heaven over
someone that repents? What a grand day this would be if you could be the instrument in
God’s hands of turning someone from darkness to light, and from the power of sin unto
You can join with Cain and say, "Am I my brother’s
keeper?" But, thank God, you can do something better than that. You can say, "By
the help of God I will save someone, and my life shall not be a failure."
I was on the Spree when the shaft broke and knocked a hole in the
ship’s bottom. The stern sank thirty feet in mid-ocean, and for a whole week, if a
storm had burst upon us, we would have gone down. One man was so bewildered and terrified
that he jumped overboard. I remember how wretched I felt to think I couldn’t help
him, to see him left out there in mid-ocean, head above the waves, looking at us. The
passengers took life preservers and whatever they could find, and threw them to him, but
all fell short. I never forgot the look of that man; it has followed me all these years.
But what would you have said of me, if the life-line had laid right at my feet and I had
refused to throw it to him? What would you say?
O, friends, the life-line lies at our feet. Men are sinking all around
us. Let us throw out the life-line!
Throw out the Life-Line across the dark wave,
There is a brother whom someone should save;
Somebody’s brother! oh, who then will dare
To throw out the Life-Line, his peril to share?
Soon will the season of rescue be o’er,
Soon will they drift to eternity’s shore,
Haste then, my brother, no time for delay,
But throw out the Life-Line and save them today.
A father was told one day by a friend that his boy had got into bad
company and was drinking. The father wouldn't believe a word of it, and was quite
indignant with the man for telling him. But one night he thought he would wait until his
son came in. It came to the small hours of the morning - it was a cold night in winter -
and he heard someone trying to get the key into the door; he went to the door and found
that it was his boy, drunk. He shut the door in his face and told him never to come back
to that house; he was a disgrace to him.
Then he went to bed and tried to sleep, but his conscience rose up and
smote him. The thought came, "Have I ever tried to save my boy? I have often put
strong drink before him on my table. Have I ever talked to him about a better life? Have I
ever told him of a Savior?"
The man got up and dressed himself, and went out that cold night. He
found the policeman on that beat, and hunted until he found the drunken son, and brought
him home. When the boy was sober the father confessed that he hadn’t done right
himself, and asked his boy to forgive him. The result was that the boy was saved.
Do you know of anyone that is stumbling over you? You have been a
professed Christian for many years, and you never have spoken to anyone about his soul.
You have seen them go down all around you. Where is thy brother? Perhaps a letter written
to him today may save him. Ask him to forgive you for not having spoken to him before, for
not throwing out the life-line before. If he is easily influenced, say: "God helping
me, I will influence him to be good and to be right."