Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9 NASB)
Growing up, I remember watching a "classic" television commercial for Life cereal. The storyline went something like this: Two brothers are fighting over a new cereal that's "supposed to be good for you." They don't want to eat it. After a little banter, one of them decides to impose this new "nutritional" breakfast food on their little brother, Mikey. The other one quips, "He won't eat it. He hates everything!" They watch as their little brother looks at the bowl, gives it a double-take, then digs in. In surprise, one of the brothers exclaim, "He likes it! Hey Mikey!"
Not the way you remember the commercial? Check out this video on Youtube as a reminder. Pretty cool, huh?
I bring this up because this commercial is not only a "classic," but also an example of one of the most misquoted commercials in history. Most of the time when I hear someone quote it, they say, "Give it to Mikey. He eats anything." In reality, the point of the commercial was the exact opposite. He hated everything, which "proved" that their cereal's taste was really good - good enough that even Mikey would eat it.
Have you ever used the phrase, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Usually this quip comes after someone walks in and says, "Where's Joe?" Perhaps you'll hear a more updated rendition, like: "It's not my day to watch him." I must admit, I've stopped trying to correct people when they misquote a cereal commercial. When it's Scripture, though, I find myself asking them, "Do you really want to make that reference?"
You see, it was Cain who first asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" He was doing it to cover up his sin. He had recently murdered his brother. Like his mom and dad, Adam and Eve, Cain didn't own up to his evil (jealousy, then murder). Instead, he tried to hide it. It wasn't cute that he basically said, "It's not my day to watch him." It was a cover up. It was one more sin to pile on top of the others.
Take the time to know it before you quote it. It's worth it.