I find myself wondering what is on the horizon that these verses caught my attention. I do not want to speculate, but I do want to unpack these verses.
The words themselves are pretty straightforward. God speaks to Esau, a metaphorical name for the once-nation of Edom, and condemns both Esau’s lack of assistance to his brother (Jacob/Israel) and his glee in the misfortunes of his brother. While neither of these is directly applicable to me, there are principles that are reiterated elsewhere in The Bible that bear remembrance.
The first principle is that inaction is an action. Regarding the time that Jacob/Israel was judged, God says that Esau/Edom stood aloof, / On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, / And foreigners entered his gate / And cast lots for Jerusalem— / You too were as one of them. Edom stood aloof, essentially doing nothing either way. But, in God’s eyes, Edom was as one of them. Edom’s inaction was an action. Later, Jesus will say that those who are not with Him are against Him. Indecision and inaction are decisions and actions unto themselves and this is borne out throughout scripture. A decision must be made and action must be taken or the lack of decision and action will be the decision and action.
The second principle is that I am, in fact, my brother’s keeper. I note that God says Esau/Edom will be covered in shame because of the violence to his brother. I am to be my brother’s keeper. This means that I should pray for others; keep an eye on them and remind them of what God says about things if they lose their way; be ready and willing to help if and when the need arises. This leads into the final principle I note this morning.
Principle number three: I am not to rejoice over the sufferings of others. One might think that this is a “Duh Statement”, but there are far too many believers in the world who think, “Well, [insert group name here] deserved it because [reasons].” and these believers begin to gloat over the judgment or discipline being handed down to another. The reality is that it is only God’s grace that keeps any of us from being in precisely the same situation as our brothers and sisters who are being disciplined or the non-believer who is dealing with judgment of their sin. We all, each and every one of us, deserve every last bit of judgment God could hand down to us. If it is a question of deserts, then we are all doomed. It is the imparted righteousness of Christ that saves, not a single thing that I have done, am doing, or will ever do. Yes, I had to accept the gift of salvation. I need to let that really sink in. The only thing I have done to become righteous in the sight of God is to accept the gift of righteousness imparted by the death of God’s Son on a cross. Yeah, that was some heavy lifting I did there. Since sarcasm does not always translate well to the written word, I note that the foregoing was sarcasm. I have done nothing praiseworthy. Not one thing.
And these verses boil down to the following reminders for me this morning. First, inaction is an action. I am faced with decisions, either I can make the decisions or the indecision will make them. My choice. Second, I am my brother’s keeper. Cain asked the question and people have been echoing it ever since. The answer is that I am supposed to be looking to build up and encourage and exhort and support my brothers and sisters. Third, I am not to get excited about another person’s judgment/discipline. This will not be easy, since my flesh and the vast majority of world systems conspire to convince me that people “had it coming” when suffering hits. Perhaps the best thing I can do is to remember that we all “have it coming” and God’s grace is sufficient to not give it to us. If God is so gracious to me, should I not likewise be gracious to others?