From the beginning of time God wanted us to be in families. 'Be fruitful and multiply' he said. Yet, right from the start of the first family there was jealousy and even murder. Cain and Abel.
My sisters and I are middle aged now and approaching SSI checks. We have come into agreement after years of competition, jealousy and a need to be in control. That is not to say we are clones of one another. Certainly not. Yet, it is an amazing thing when siblings come together in peace.
Our family is not so unusual from those in the bible. I am blessed to have all sorts of sisters. One older brother too. I have half sisters and step sister. In a vase of flowers we are all different flowers. Such a beautiful bouquet and yet...
Years ago the oldest child became the heir. He was the one who was supposed to look after the rest while handling all the funds. Jealousy frequently arose over this.
Now days, the older ones are still expected to look after their younger siblings. Yet, this caused much rebellion as I grew up. Remember the old saying 'Your not my boss!'
Many studies have gone on to investigate the middle child syndrome as well. They are the ones trying to make peace in the family.
Then there is the youngest child who gets spoiled. Personally I was never the oldest, the middle or the youngest. I was second from the youngest.
As I look at the families of the bible I see where Moses was not the oldest child. David was the youngest child. Of the twelve tribes of Israel...Jesus did not come from the oldest of the tribe. He was from the tribe of Judah. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob...renamed Israel. Jacob was the second son.
The need to compete always fascinated me. What exactly are we siblings competing for? The love of the parent? It is true that some parents do have favorites. Yet, even if they do not...I see siblings competing to be the best, prettiest, smartest, and richest. You have seen it too I am sure.
Different passions rest in each of us. For a family it is evident when one sibling has a passion for one thing. In my family we have contributed artists, musicians, evangelists, writers, cooks, health care providers, farmers, postal carrier, seamstresses, and many of us do crafts. The many talents and giftings are too long to mention with such a group of eight.
There were years of emotional battles as well. A difference of opinion rose to a feud. Silence ensued. A small candle burned in the darkness throughout those years though. It grew to a shining light. Revelation came in the form of God's word.
We learned to stop competing. We learned to stop trying to one up the other. We learned to turn jealousy into praise for another's accomplishment. We found out who we were in Christ. You see, once a person has a personal relationship with God, he does not need to find a special place in the competition for greatness. Our eyes turned upward rather than inward. The focus was not on ourselves anymore. No need to compete.
In His eyes, we are his favorite. We are all his favorite. As we look through the bible we find a love letter from the father.
Isaiah 49:1 'Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.'
Now skip ahead to Jeremiah 1:5 ' Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..'
As long as there are two people on the earth, there will be two different opinions. Yet, God has a plan for families. His word is simple 'love one another'
To do that, we must make short accounts. If a sibling has a disagreement that leads to strife...do not waste time but make amends. Keep the lines of communication open. You do not have to compromise who you are, or the word of God to do this. We can walk away knowing we are right, and still love our brother. So often, the idea is to be the one who has the right answer.
The idea has to be, we are the one who loves. Love is patient, love is kind, it keeps no record of wrongs, it delights in the truth, love is not rude, …
The years have passed and the problems have come and gone. The family of siblings that I belong to is blessed in deed. It did not come through a forceful attitude. It came through forgiveness and putting away jealousy and gossip. We put away our need to be on top. We took on the garment of praise. I get a phone call from time to time from a sibling telling me a positive thing. I have made some adjustments too. I take the time to send an email, make a call or just keep communications open to praise them and love them as much as I can.
Life is short and what is left unsaid today may never be recaptured tomorrow. Hurts of yesterday are best healed by a simple act of forgiveness. Taking a quick offense is putting up a wall between sisters and brothers. That wall gets bigger as time goes by. Believe me, I know.
If we siblings can agree on one good thing it is this.... LOVE is stronger than any force the devil can throw at us. A strong will to be rebellious is useless against a loving heart. The meek are not weak. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength to overcome sarcasm, prejudice, jealousy, belittlement, evil doings and strife with love. Yet, it is not our own human love that is involved here. No, we sisters and brother have discovered that the love of God out shines and outlasts what the world calls love. It is the strongest power.
For some us we need to remove the garment of dictatorship. It does not fit you anyways. You can not dictate to your siblings anything but love. You can not show love through a garment of control.
For some we need to remove the garment of people pleasing. It is too small. You need to exchange it for a garment of praise which is pleasing to God. He is the only one you need to please.
For some we need to take off the competition robe. No matter how much you try, you can never be more than who God created you to be. The robe you wear is tight at times, and too loose on others. Let it slide off and take on the garment of joy. We can be joyful knowing He loves us as we are. If we need any changing, He will do it.
For some, we need to remove the garment of shame. It is too heavy and it does not belong to you. God does not give us a garment of shame. He lifts it off and replaces it with a garment of freedom. Freedom to be who he created us to be.
For some, we need to remove the garment of unforgiveness. If you are constantly remembering to hold grudges, and finding others faults, and never seeing your idea of justice...you are becoming bitter in your own resentment. Take the garment off and put on the garment of forgiveness. It is a light garment and you will find you can stand straighter. People die from the resentment, unforgiveness, and bitterness of heart.
For some it will mean taking off the garment of pride and taking on a humble garment. Pride puffed up is so ugly. Yet humility when it is true, is a beautiful thing.
We siblings all have a special place in our family's garden. There are problems, but attached to each thorn is a lovely rose.
We have grown to enjoy our differences. Though we have not all been together in body for years, we stand together in the spirit of love. How do we all rate? We are all God's favorites.
You can do it! In fact, I believe you can do it better than we did.