12th October 2019

Sibling Rivalry

“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!”
Psalm 133:1 (NLT)

Sibling rivalry is a very real problem facing families today. It has been around since our first human family walked this planet, and It has been the cause of many families being riven with competition, jealousy, envy and hatred.

We read in Genesis 4 how Cain murdered his brother, Abel, out of jealousy and hatred of him. Other biblical examples of this kind of rivalry between siblings are Isaac and Ishmael; Esau and Jacob; Leah and Rachel; Joseph and his brothers, and Abimelech along with his siblings. The latter, who was the son of Gideon, one of the Judges of Israel (Judges 9), killed nearly all his brothers in order to be ruler over the people. Such was the lust for power and prestige in those days, that siblings would stop at nothing to achieve their personal ambitions.

Thankfully, in today’s world, siblings are not in the habit of taking each other’s lives in heated, family disputes, but, sadly, many resort to not speaking to each other, and not seeing each other, for years and even decades. That was the case of twin brothers Esau and Jacob of Bible times. An unhealthy spirit of hatred, resentment and unforgiveness on Esau’s part plagued their relationship for 20+ years. When they finally met up they were willing to ‘bury the hatchet’, be reconciled and make a fresh start (Genesis 33). Without doubt, it is an amazing story with a happy ending!

Sibling rivalry is a spiritual matter, and can really only be solved by spiritual means. With God’s help siblings can “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Siblings can also learn from Paul’s instruction to the Philippian Christians in chapter 2:3-4 (NIV), “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

Compassion and humility are important ingredients to possess when it comes to reconciliation—not only for rival siblings, but for all people at all times. Reconciling with siblings and others is not always an easy matter, but, as the apostle Paul exhorted the church at Rome, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 (NIV); read also verses 9-21). Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Father in heaven, help us all to put into practice the inspired teachings on love and reconciliation that your apostle taught the churches long ago. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Magowan

About the Author:
John Magowan is a member of the Pastoral Council at Grace Community Church, Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Lisburn
Ballymacbrennan School Hall
129A Saintfield Road
BT27 5PG

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
Phone: 07764336760
Email: bobbeggs@hotmail.com

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