“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”


Yes. There is no other answer.

Pause for definition: “Brother” means any human on the planet other than you. In Genesis, God asked Cain where his slain brother, Abel, was. Cain responded, “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” God’s response was telling, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Perhaps unwittingly, Cain was asking a question much broader than simply his responsibilities to his brother, Abel. And God answered equally broadly. We do not have to murder someone to fail in our responsibility to them. Simply ignoring them can be just as damaging. Even if we don’t know them.

Some years ago, my business would take me to Appleton, Wisconsin from time-to-time. I enjoyed staying at the Holiday Inn there because they had an attached full gym. This gym was complete enough to sell memberships; hotel guests had indoor, free access. Most hotel gyms have a few weights and one or two treadmills and a bike. In one gym, I had to get a ballpoint from the front desk to select weight amounts in weight stack machines, and to substitute for the pin that kept the seat post on the bike in place.  Imagine for a moment how happy I was to have found this hotel gym! At the end of long day on the road, I would get in a good workout, and either have dinner out or order room service.

One evening after a long business day and a good workout, my traveling colleague, Dave, wanted to go out. I was beat, and did not. Dave prevailed, and out we went. We went to a local TGIF, and had a pleasant, late dinner. The next morning as I was packing to check out, I discovered that I had lost my wallet. Panic. How can I get on the plane? How can I get home? How could I even pay for meals or a taxi to the airport? What now?

As I was nervously explaining my predicament to the front desk clerk, explaining that I had likely left it at the restaurant the night before, the manager, “Don”, came out. Don suggested that I get my bags and meet him out front. He explained that his cousin worked as a bookkeeper at a rival hotel, and moonlighted as the night bookkeeper for that TGIF. We drove over to the other hotel, got the TGIF keys from the cousin, then drove to the closed TGIF where my wallet was indeed in the lost and found area. Don dropped me off at the airport in plenty of time for my flight. A cash “thank you” was gently declined; I later wrote a letter of appreciation to the owners of the hotel group that included that property.

You think the story is over? I haven’t even gotten to the punch line. Months later when I was again at that hotel, I saw Don and a group of businessmen having a meeting at a table in the lobby. Upon inquiry, I was told those were the owners. I went over, apologized for the interruption, and told them in person the story I had recounted in my letter. The punch line? Don was not embarrassed at the praise, or bothered by the interruption: He simply did not get it that I was making a big deal out of what he had done. To Don, what he had done for me was simply routine, like extending a guest a late checkout. I was Don’s brother, and he was my keeper.

How you handle your responsibility to your brother as his keeper depends somewhat on how your brother has handled his responsibilities to himself. If he refuses to help himself, despite teaching and encouragement (emphasis on the latter), then your responsibility is close to zero. Yes, you can provide life support, but a little of that can easily turn into a life sentence–a sentence that will create multi-generational dependency. But that is taken up in other blogs.

Here’s the point this blog is making:  Your responsibility is always to be your brother’s keeper. His responsibility is to respond and pass it along to his (your/our) brothers.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
Join Me
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

4 Responses

  1. Ken Rice Reply

    As always, Will, your reminders can give us cause for reshaping as our years pass!

    Loved your and Don’s example of Cain & Abel. It caused me to put myself in your place if, per chance, after dropping you off in ample time for your flight from Appleton, Don had a few minutes to sit and chat before you boarded your plane. Then, upon boarding, a nice and pretty lady approached you and asked if a wallet she had just found in the waiting area might be yours. Now, knowing that Marcia wasn’t there to see you chatting with the pretty lady and really loving to talk as we all know, you failed to tell the lady right away that the wallet wasn’t yours. But then finding that it happened to be Don’s – which had apparently slipped from his jacket while saying goodbye to you – I can’t imagine what you thought to do.

    So, will you hop back off the plane and contact him to return to get his wallet and take a later flight if possible? Or, go on home and special mail it back? Or, perhaps return it by way of a stewardess (oops, hostess!) or pilot while having enjoyed telling the story to the pretty lady and with perhaps a lesser “grasp” on Brother Don? Since Don was now YOUR brother and you were HIS keeper and should you not have chosen the first option above, I wonder how he would have reacted to you months later during his meeting back at the hotel?

    We certainly Are Our Brother’s Keeper and hopefully we are up to God’s level of choice. Am still thinking of what my option would have been while knowing God is prepared for either.


    • Will Luden Reply

      Captain Ken, wow; that is involved…:). I would hope–hope–that while milking the situation with the nice, pretty lady, that I would have feigned interest in finding the owner by asking where she found it, what she had been doing when she found it, etc. Moments before the door closed, I would have “discovered” that the wallet was indeed not mine, and asked one of the crew to take it to customer service for their airline in the airport, and return it to Don that day at his hotel, or the home address on his license in the wallet. Yes? No?

  2. Ken Rice Reply

    Such patience, my man while thinking about next week’s blog? Thinking again on what I would have done if in your fictitious position on the plane, would likely have done what you did but called Don to tell him. However, while feeling somewhat guilty in talking with the lady throughout the flight, I’d likely be wondering whether God had hoped that I would have taken the option to disembark on behalf of brother Don and how different I would have felt should his keeper had done so. And, again, wondering how Don would have reacted months later during the meeting back at the hotel. Of course, that Claire had advised that our daughter & family had been invited over and that she was preparing a great meal for us this night could have somewhat lessened my guilt. Choices, choices on being who we are or should be!

Leave a Reply

Recent Episodes

Subscribe to Revolution 2.0

* indicates required

Follow me On Social

Subscribe to Podcast


Scroll to top
Skip to content