Recently I experienced an incident when a friend made a statement that I knew was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible. Knowing that I was a Christian they further stated that Bible is outdated or not for our times. I knew what she was saying was most definitely not biblical, in fact, the Bible stated completely the opposite many times, yet I did not challenge what she was saying.
It bothered me almost immediately that I did not speak up and defend what I knew was the truth. In fact, it bothered me that night to the point of restless sleep. I knew it had been put on my heart to speak up and I didn’t. When I brought the incident up at my women’s Bible study the next day, there was quite a bit of discussion, both for and against having said more. Plus we talked about the fact that forgiveness is ours.
However, in the end, the following scripture was brought to light, which added fuel to my distress.
Ezekiel 3:18(NKJV)18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
I pray often asking God for boldness, wisdom, and discernment; I want so badly to walk in the steps the Lord has laid out for me. There are many I know I should talk to, share the gospel with – invariably I back down.
My Pastor’s wife had recently shared a video with me on Facebook that ended with the statement: By an Atheist– How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? He also says, if someone was standing in the path of a large bus, would you not pull them out of the way in an attempt to save them. (https://www.facebook.com/ed.huffstetler)
That statement took my breath away and combined with the scripture from Ezekiel, had my heart and my brain churning wildly in me, and I knew if I were to sleep, I needed to get answers.
I called my Pastor asking “am I responsible to bring the gospel to those I know God has put it on my heart to do so? Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Pastor’s answer; “a good question, keep studying and let me know what you think”. (A very wise Pastor).
And study I did, I like nothing better than to dig into the Word and see what I find.
What Scripture Says
Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I responsible for the salvation of others?
I was surprised to be taken back into Genesis, however, when I thought about it later, of course, God knew, He has always known our hearts, and He will always know the evil that is in the human heart.
Genesis 4:9-10(NLT) Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
“The question of the Lord God “where is Able thy brother” and the counter question from Cain, “am I my brother’s keeper?” Makes a kind of introduction to the entire bible,
life responsibility – soul responsibility, is a recurring teaching of the whole Scriptures; it is even into the warp and woof of the biblical fabric.”
“The instruments of salvation are in our hands; God has committed them to us. There is no doctrine to be seen more frequently in all scripture than this charge and commitment.” – Five great questions of the Bible
Further reading in Ezekiel brought me to these words of scripture and it cemented together everything I had been reading.
Ezekiel 3:1-9(NLT) Once again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’
“Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.
Watchman is referred to in many of the scriptures concerning the prophets. (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, & more that I did not read)
The Christian’s Call
Is God talking only to Ezekiel? I think not; God is quite specific in saying if He puts it on our heart to tell or warn and we if do not, “I will hold you responsible for their deaths” however if we obey God and warn them as he asks, even if they do not listen “you will have saved yourself”
According to this scripture, aren’t we all watchmen? If we are Christians is it our duty to “warn” about the death of not turning to Jesus.
Am I a watchman or does that just fall to others? Maybe I do not want that job…
In Acts 20:26 (NLT) Paul says “therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole council of God.”
We are ultimately responsible to a God, who will someday call us into account. I know I cannot make the same statement as Paul does.
Even when we say – I don’t want that job, it goes with the territory.
I am responsible for my salvation, but it appears that I am also responsible for the salvation of others. Especially those God has chosen to put on MY heart. I must listen to what God is telling me and… I must act on it.
Evangelism With Discernment
However, it is essential to make it very clear – when sharing the Word, we must use discernment. I remember years ago a young man would come into the coffee shop where I worked. He would come through the door glorifying God speaking scripture and practically singing praises. Good … right. Not so much, he was to the point of being rude. All he received for his brash evangelistic manner was rolled eyes, people heading for the door and my boss losing her customers. Not good. We need always to be aware, pray, ask for discernment; know that the Holy Spirit will give it to you. Don’t be insensitive, say what you need to with love, truth, and respect; closed ears do not hear. Answer questions and when there are none leave it at that. We may plant – someone else may do the harvesting. If there is no response, well you have done your job, pray about it and leave it to God.
Am I My Brother’s Keeper? I would say without a doubt I am. Again it comes to choices. The Holy Spirit puts it on our heart. Whether we do it or not is up to us. I am also reminded of the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25:14-30) when the third man returns his buried coins, the master replies ‘you wicked and lazy servant.’ I believe He is speaking to us when we do exactly the same thing by ignoring that which God puts on our hearts. He gives us the tools it is up to us to use them. It is hard to be bold and make the right choice. So much easier to play it safe,
But I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER.