In Genesis 4:9, Cain asks God the famous question, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" It’s startling to see this attitude so near the beginning of the Bible, because it’s an attitude that still pervades the selfish, sin-riddled human heart. Sometimes, I don’t want to be bothered with anyone or anything else. I've got my own plans for my life, and I want other people to just stay out of my way.
Cain, knowing full well that he had just killed his brother, mouths off to God in that classic teenage way: "How am I supposed to know where my brother is? Who died and made me his babysitter?" The tough guy act.
But a few moments later, Cain’s not feeling so tough as God tells him that he won’t be able to work the land anymore. Because of the curse his actions have brought on the land, he’ll be a restless wanderer for the rest of his life. And poor Cain’s response is interesting: "This punishment is too hard...I have to wander about without a home, and just anyone could kill me."
In other words, Cain is saying, there will be no one to keep me, to protect me. I will not have a keeper. Cain has just gotten done informing God that he certainly is not his brother’s keeper, but when the tables are turned and he feels like he’s about to be without a keeper, he’s not so cocky anymore.
But even though there were dire consequences for Cain's actions, God didn't leave him alone. God didn't leave Cain without a keeper. Instead, the Bible says the Lord "put a mark on Cain to warn everyone not to kill him." What sort of God is this, who treats an evildoer better than that person has just treated his own victim? It may not have been in Cain’s heart to protect his own brother, but it was still in God’s heart to protect Cain.
No matter what we have done, God is always our keeper. He shields us from as much as He can—which means usually as much as we will allow Him to. While He does not set aside the consequences of our actions, He still loves us...even when we do wrong. And we can know that He is always looking out for us.