Am I My Brother's Keeper
Leviticus 19:17
You shall not hate your brother in your heart: you shall in any wise rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin on him.

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1. This injunction supposes cognisance of another's actions. Man was made for society, and its value consists greatly in taking an affectionate interest in those about us.

2. It is often easier for a bystander to detect a fault than for the one actively concerned in the deed. Our friend may be in ignorance of his guilt, and a word of reproof may open his eyes. What we imagined way done with intent may prove to have been thoughtlessly wrought.

3. The text inculcates what is acknowledged to be a hard duty, one which most are willing to relegate to others. We may fear some cutting retort, "Who made thee a judge over us?" We know that our neighbour's vanity may be wounded, and he may inflict some blow in return. Perhaps the duty is most difficult when the wrong has been perpetrated upon ourselves. Pride urges us to keep silence, and we nourish a sentiment of undeserved injury which rather flatters our conception of ourselves. Yet Jesus Christ re-enforced the law.

4. Regard for God demands the observance of the text. Every transgression is sin against Him.

5. The welfare of our neighbour requires it.


1. Hatred proceeds from the perception of something repugnant to our feelings, and, in the case supposed, of something that is distasteful to our moral sentiments. An outrage upon good taste is committed — a deed that is offensive to our judgment of what is congruous to the relationship and circumstances under consideration. This just resentment will be soothed by the recantation and improvement of the transgressor consequent on the reproof administered. We learn to distinguish between the sinner and the sin.

2. Our perception of wrong is clearer and more intense when the injury is done to ourselves, and the hatred threatens to become stronger. The picture is directed towards ourselves, and we get a good front view of it. It is the more necessary, therefore, to take steps to abate ensuing enmity. We shall relieve our burdened breasts by expressing our sense of the unrighteousness of our neighbour's behaviour, the utterance of resentment being a sentence of condemnation that satisfies to a certain extent our love of justice. Holy indignation will have been vented, and to that degree appeased.

3. On the other hand, the repression of reproof aggravates hatred. The concealment of our knowledge genders a sore that spreads till our every sight and thought of the man is one of utter dislike. By the sin of a brother we ourselves are thus betrayed into dire sin against the very purport of the Decalogue. We do not love, but hate our neighbour, and "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." Whereas "if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." Thy reproof may be "an excellent oil, which shall not break his head."

III. THE REPROOF WILL DISCHARGE US FROM ALL GUILT OF TACIT PARTICIPATION IN OUR NEIGHBOUR'S SIN. The marginal rendering is preferable, "that thou bear not sin for him" or "on his account." To witness a crime and not make an endeavour to stop it is to be an abettor of it.

(S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

WEB: "'You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.

A Successful Reprover
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