I grew up in a family of five—my two parents, my older brother, my younger sister, and myself. Although my brother, sister, and I get along now that we are adults, growing up we fought A LOT. I can honestly say that I don’t remember a time when we weren’t yelling at each other about something. Looking back now, I can see that the majority of things we fought over were insignificant; I probably should have asked to borrow my sister’s clothes, and I probably could have stayed upstairs when my brother had his friends over.
Conflict resolution, especially with siblings, is a very important skill to have within your family. Fighting or arguing with your family members can have a lasting impact on your relationship. It has taken 15 years for my brother, sister, and me to get to a place where we enjoy each other’s company. Luckily for us, time healed our hearts.
In so many situations, scripture is the best teacher. Let’s take a look at a few sibling scuffs and learn from their examples. Before you read on, take a few minutes to open up your Bible and read their stories.
Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve. They both worked very hard in the “family business” – working the land and tending to the animals. Both took pride in their work and offered the fruits of their labor to the Lord. When the Lord was more pleased with Abel’s offering, Cain became angry and jealous – so angry and jealous that he killed his own brother and then lied about it.
Lesson to Learn: We all desire to please our parents or family. My brother is an amazing artist and my little sister is very smart. I had to work extra hard to get good grades and couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler even if I tried. When my parents would praise them for a job well done, my feelings were hurt. I would always ask, “What about me?” I couldn’t celebrate their accomplishments because I was too wrapped up in my own pity-party.
Jealousy does no good to anyone, especially when it comes to siblings. When these situations arise with your brother or sister, you have to look beyond yourself. When you find yourself feeling like this, turn to the Lord and allow him to speak the truth of the situation into your heart. Why are you jealous? What about the situation hurt your feelings? The Father sees your hard work and effort even if your family never recognizes you. He is pleased with you. Allow this truth to give you freedom to celebrate your family.
Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25 through Genesis 27) Esau [Ee-saw] and Jacob were twins. Esau loved to hunt and roam the fields while Jacob was a home-body and typical “momma’s boy.” When it came time for their father Isaac to give his blessing to his oldest son Esau, Jacob dressed up like Esau and stole his brother’s blessing. When Esau found out, he became angry and held a grudge against Jacob, who eventually had to leave because he feared for his life.
Lesson to Learn: Brothers and sisters will do something to hurt your feelings or take what is rightfully yours. In these situations you have a choice. You can, like Esau, become angry, hold a grudge and damage your relationship permanently – or you can honestly share your feelings and work through it together. Being the bigger person in these situations can spare your family from a lot of hurt later. If necessary, ask your parents to sit down with you to help work it out. Share your feelings honestly but do not attack your brother or sister. Be ready to listen to what they have to say. Try to reach a resolution and commitment to work together to make the situation different in the future.
Joseph and His Brothers (Genesis 37 and 45) Joseph was the favorite child and his brothers knew it. After telling his family about a dream he had, where he would rule over his family, Joseph’s brothers had had enough and made a plan to kill him. On his father’s order, Joseph went to where his brothers were working. When he arrived, instead of killing him, his brothers sold him as a slave. They took Joseph’s robe (given to him by their father), smeared it with blood, and reported to their father that Joseph had died. After many years of slavery and imprisonment, Joseph found his way into Pharaoh’s palace and was put in charge of all the lands in Egypt. When his brothers came to Egypt to buy food, Joseph revealed that he was still alive and forgave them for all they had done to him.
Lesson to Learn: We all know who the favorite child is in our family. They get the special treatment or don’t have to do as many chores as we do. Their sports games or needs are a priority in the family. For those of you who aren’t the favorite, you can sometimes feel like Joseph’s brothers. You don’t want to hear how great that brother or sister is anymore. Sometimes you purposely hurt their feelings with your words or actions out of jealousy. When you find yourself in these situations, seeking forgiveness is necessary. It would have been really easy for Joseph to treat his brothers terribly, but instead he chose forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness takes humility and sincerity of heart. Ask the Lord to help you have a sorrowful heart and heal any hurt that you might have caused your sibling.
Next time you find yourself in a conflict with your brother or sister, remember the words of Jesus to the Apostles: “Love one another as I have love you.” (John 15:12)