“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love … Live in harmony with one another.” – Romans 12:10,16
I was blessed to grow up in a very close-knit family. I can remember being horrified when I heard girls that I knew say things like, “I hate my brothers!” I thought that having big brothers was one of the best things in my life. Looking back, now that we are all “grown up”, I can see a few things that greatly influenced our family, and how we thought of each other.
We were raised in the Bible. Obviously this affected our thinking. Mom and Dad raised us in the understanding that what the Bible said was the final word for us. Biblical character qualities like kindness and forgiveness were expected and enforced. (We found great resources on character from the Institute in Basic Life Principles.) Things like name-calling, hitting, etc, were never allowed. We also learned to work things out on our own. When we were very little, my sister and I agreed at a time when we were both calm, to not say “SEE???” when one of us was found to be right about something that we had been disagreeing on, because it made us so angry when the other would do that.
We were required to learn to forgive each other. After one of us had been offended or hurt, we were expected, when the offender asked for forgiveness, to say “I forgive you, I love you, and I bless you.” If we didn’t choose to forgive, we were next in line for a spanking. That was great motivation.
We moved several times when we were growing up. As a result, we didn’t have many other friends. I am convinced that this was a huge factor in our sibling friendships. Although I remember complaining a couple times that we had so few friends, I am so grateful when I look back, that our lives turned out this way. We learned to think of our siblings as our best friends and the ones that we most wanted to spend time with. Some of my favorite memories are of just the four of us children playing together with our stagecoaches and cowboys and Indians, or digging “cliff dwelling” in a dirt hillside, or playing music together.
We were home educated. Being together all day every day (for the most part) really helped our friendships as well. We would study together, and as my sister and I got into more advanced math, Mom had our older brothers tutor us in that. We spent time with other families who made sibling harmony a priority. A friend’s influence can make a huge impact on our ways of thinking. It helped us to be around others who had the same priorities.
One of the most important things that I have ever heard about sibling harmony came from a young man who was teaching at a home-school conference. He said that we need to learn to think of our siblings as fellow soldiers; members of the same military unit. We are fighting for the same side against a common enemy. We need to realize that when arguments come up, or our feelings get hurt, or we get jealous of each other, etc, that all of these things are an attack of the enemy, Satan, against our army unit. We need to stand together and realize who our true enemy is, and fight him through prayer … not fight with our siblings. The Enemy doesn’t want us to have sibling harmony, and peace in our homes, and good friendships. We need to fight him and stand strong in the Lord with our families.
I would like to encourage each of you to work towards excellent sibling relationships. Learn to think of each other as your best friends. Don’t let other peoples’ negative comments or mind sets influence you. Your siblings were chosen for you by God Himself. He put you all together for His perfect purposes. Don’t worry if you don’t have lots of other friends. Be thankful for your siblings. And if you are an only child, don’t forget … all of these things apply to you with your parents as well. Learn to appreciate all the members of your family for who they are. Learn to see them as the people that God gave to you to practice life relationships on! If you can learn to resolve problems with them, learn to overlook their faults, learn to love them even when they are “unloveable”, learn to be content with who God had placed in your life, if you can learn to be lovable yourself, then you are well on your way to a successful life with others, too.
If your siblings are not saved yet, learn to exemplify Yeshua (Jesus) to them. See them as a mission field. I cannot tell you how much my brothers and sister, and their friendship, mean to me. The Lord has helped me to stay strong, and given me encouragement through them. I am blessed to know that I have these best friends for the rest of my life. Now the circle has grown with my sisters-in-law, my brother-in-law, and nieces and nephews! It gets even better as time goes on!!
One last thought. You never know how long you have with your brothers and sisters. Recently, a dear friend of mine was in a terrible car accident. Everyone who saw her truck said that she should not be alive after that wreck. The Lord spared her and in the days after the accident, she saw her family’s faces in a different way. She loved her family already, but she was given a new perspective on what a precious gift each one was. Not only that, but she realized that the Lord had given her a gift of being with, and serving her family. She told me, “Everyday is a gift. It is a gift to me, from the Lord, to be able to make meals for my family, to be able to serve my family, to help my younger siblings.”
Even if it’s not so serious as life or death, still, you and your siblings will probably get married, or move away at some point. Make the most of what you have now, and build relationships that will stay strong and last forever. May the Lord give you strength to develop and keep strong, healthy family relationships that will bring glory to Him!
Authored by Megan Miller