Today, I sit at the dining room table typing up this entry. Behind me is the early, morning breeze blowing through the window. It is cool and refreshing. I am the oldest of three brothers. The youngest of us lives in San Francisco with his wife while the middle one makes his home in the Adirondack region of upstate New York with his wife and son. All three of us are natives of South Florida, where the sun always shines even when it rains. Neither of us longs for South Florida anymore, but we have good memories of it. We always enjoy reminiscing about the summers where we split our time between the pool and watching movies from Blockbuster Video on our VCR. We even had a Nintendo system and the first generation Sony Playstation. Some might call this a blast from the past.
Either way, the pool made the hot and humid summers of Miami, Florida much more bearable. At the time, I worked at Blockbuster Video, which gave their employees five, free movie rentals per week. During those dog days of summer, my two brothers and I saw more movies than we ever thought possible. When I worked part-time at Blockbuster, Wayne Huizenga still owned it and the Miami Dolphins franchise. Near the middle of my part-time stint, he sold the Blockbuster company and the franchise never remained the same. Now, it is out of business, a relic of the past or a nostalgic memory of the days of yore. Given the state of digital technology and online viewing, my kids will stare at me in wide-eyed wonder as I explain to them about VCR tapes and such obsolete audio-visual recording formats.
My brothers and I grew very close over those summers. We had each other during a turbulent time in our lives. It is one thing play, wrestle, and fight as small boys; however, it is another thing entirely to bond over common struggles and experiences. Each of us is very different from the other in sensibility, physique, and interests; however, we had a sense of camaraderie over those summers, which has carried over into adulthood. When we were teenagers, I took the lead as the oldest and the one in charge. Now that we are grownups, adult men in solid marriages to even more solid women, I do not have to take charge. Does this mean that the older brother in me remains on the sidelines for very long? Once a firstborn, always a firstborn, is my perception. I still take the initiative at times in reaching out or maintaining our bond. Sometimes it means taking the first step in admitting wrong even when I do not see the point. It takes effort, but in the end, they are worth it and so am I.
Over the last three years, the middle brother has been experiencing some rough waters. He and his wife seem to be navigating a section of the ocean that I would love to remove them from in a heartbeat. It is moments like those that the oldest brother in me must be tempered with the fact that my sister-in-law and brother are adults walking out their own journey. When I read in the book of Genesis about Cain’s denunciation over being his younger brother’s keeper, whom he just killed, I shake my head in disgust (Gen. 4:9, ESV). It is hard to fathom how this ancient man grew so hateful over his younger brother to the point that he murdered him in cold blood (Gen. 4:8, ESV). Cain failed at being Abel’s older brother, who was meant to be his keeper. I am my younger brothers’ keepers. This is why I take the initiative to reach out to them from time to time. Being their keeper motivates me to intercede for them in my quiet time with the Lord, who is always present in their lives in a way that I will never be.
One more thing before I wrap this up. My relationship with my two younger brothers helps me to live the same with my brothers and sisters in the Lord. 1 John 2:9 states the following: “whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” The apostle John cuts to the chase in this passage. If I say that I am in Christ or in the light, but I harbor hatred in my heart toward my brother, then I am liar still in sin. My actions reveal what takes place in my heart. Hypocrisy is the surest way to confuse others, or even worse, drive folks away from ever embracing the Jesus as their Lord and Savior through the gospel. It matters a great deal to the Lord, to the people in my life, and to me that I stay true to being my brother’s keeper. After all, this principle governs the kingdom of heaven and its people.