The first blessing upon humankind is found in the bible: “God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:28). My dad had 23 children, a huge number even by African standards. I think he read Genesis 1:28 and decided he was going to make God proud! I had 22 siblings but 5 of them have passed on, so I’m down to 17. As you might imagine, I know a little bit about shoes-sharing, clothes-swapping, and some good ole sibling rivalry!
Difficulties, disagreements, and rivalry among siblings is not new. Cain was jealous of his brother Abel, and killed him (Genesis 4). Jacob and Esau were twins, yet Jacob robbed Esau of his blessing, and Esau plotted to kill Jacob (Genesis 25-27). Brothers James and John were Jesus’ disciples and seemed to get along fine, but they were overly ambitious and the other ten disciples became angry at them. Have you ever done something that you felt was good for you, but your siblings or family members weren’t excited for you? Don’t sweat it, they’re still your family; work through that moment and move forward in love.
There are many people with no siblings, either biologically or due to life’s circumstances. Yet they’re not exempt from the challenges of sibling rivalry and family feuds. How? Because Jesus redefined family: “For whoever does the will of my Father…is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50). You may not be from a large family like mine or even have a biological sibling; but a friend, confidant, church member, or close acquaintance could be like a sibling to you. And even in those relationships there can be tensions, situations, and rivalry. We must always treat these relationships with care, and avoid the emotional outburst of “I don’t care!” God cares for us, and we should care for our “siblings”: friends, teammates, acquaintances, and others close to us.
When I was a child I couldn’t understand why there were so many of us! It seemed like a burden to have to share rooms, clothes, footwear, everything! But when I became an adult, I realized that the “army” of siblings was no longer a burden, but a blessing. I appreciate seeing my siblings excel and their kids do well. I celebrate the fact that the burdens of my childhood have become blessings in adulthood.
Joseph had a turbulent relationship with his siblings: rivalry, jealousy, and a whole lot more! But in the end he said this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20). The beauty of sibling relationships is not only what you have in common; but how you are different and how you handle your differences.
“…and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4). As brothers and sisters we should not fight each other, but fight for one another. Instead of competing with each other, we should be celebrating one another. For all of us are children of the same parent: God the Father.
Wisdom for Your Week
Support your sibling: end the competition and start the celebration!