And they said one to another, We are truly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he sought us…
The language of self-reproach, which sharp compunction wrung from Jacob's sons, may well be adopted by many among ourselves. Take the most favourable case you can. Grant that you have done no positive harm to others. Have you not, too often, forgotten to do them good? Some, with no more natural abilities, and no better opportunities than their neighbours, render all with whom they come in contact, wiser, holier, and happier. Others, possessing the same powers of mind, and surrounded by she same circumstances, stand like a moral Upas, rendering the very atmosphere about them unwholesome and deadly. But, alas! how many who ought to improve a privilege so great, are, by inactivity and gross neglect, preparing for themselves seasons of sorrow in the future, when they will cry out, in agony of soul, knowing it is then too late to offer advice or aid to one who has become hopelessly hardened in sin, but whom, at an earlier period in his career, they possessed influence enough to save: "We are verily guilty concerning our brother." The wicked might kindly have been warned; the ignorant might easily have been taught; the headstrong might have been moved by expostulation and love; the poor might have been effectually relieved. Selfishness is the true secret of such unwarrantable neglect. We are disposed to think too much of our ease. Christians should not be contented with being in the right road themselves, but they should feel a lively interest in the welfare of others. Christians are responsible for their example. They are "the salt of the earth." They are "the leaven," which must leaven the whole lump. Their example in their families, in private intercourse with friends, and in their regular occupation, should be safe and consistent. Christian principle should be discovered in everything. Is it any wonder that the ungodly mock? Can we be surprised that unbelievers multiply? Is it astonishing that such a reckless disregard of ordinary duties, and such a strange forgetfulness of the importance of setting a good example, should draw a long train of calamities in the wake of inconsistent Christians, and cause them, in the hour of sickness and death, to cry out, at the remembrance of a brother, or husband, or child, or friend, shipwrecked and ruined by their neglect: "We are verily guilty concerning our brother"?
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
WEB: They said one to another, "We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn't listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us."