"Closer than a brother" or Sibling Rivalry?"

Proverbs 18:24 refers to a “Friend who sticks closer than a brother”.

Brothers!!! WOW! Wouldn’t it be great if all brothers would stick together like the Proverbs verse!

The writer here seems to assume that all brothers (and I guess I can throw in here siblings) are naturally close and it would have to be a one-in-a-million type of friend who would or could be ever closer.

Reading the account of Joseph in the old testament I re-read the incident of when the brothers had again come to Egypt to beg/buy food off the “Governor”, little realising that the “Governor” in question was their very own brother Joseph whom they had sold into slavery.

Joseph had narrowly missed out on being murdered by his siblings and was only rescued at the last minute by the opportune arrival of merchants/slave traders on their way to Egypt.

Anyway back to story:-  Here is Judah, one of the elder brothers so willing to expedite his murderous plan to annihilate Joseph years before, jumping to the rescue of Benjamin, the kid brother, who was accused of stealing and faced certain death.

Throwing himself on the mercy of the Governor (Joseph) and begging to save Benjamin’s life and trading it for his own.

WHOA! what a turn around – Obviously Judah had learnt a HUGE lesson that brothers are indeed family and as such worthy to be loved and respected.

In the case of Judah and Benjamin, the Bible’s idea of a brother is someone who refuses to walk away, even when everyone else has split!

So how are you shaping up? How does your relationship with your siblings stack up to the Biblical ideal? How close do you stick to your brothers and sisters?

Can they get comfort from you when things go pear-shaped? Can they count on you to confront them when you see warning signs in their lives?

Would you go into bat for your siblings like Judah did for Benjamin?

Heaps of questions that made me think! Sibling love and respect is a fine and a beautiful thing but what about when brothers fall out?

I can hear you saying what if my brother/sister won’t forgive? What if you have tried to reconcile on several occasions and he/she has refused all of your attempts?

Forgiveness is not an “if we like, airy fairy , luvvie duvvy” feeling we get that will make things all cosy and rosy again in the family. TRUE forgiveness comes from the heart and the very soul of a person and prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness is mandatory, compulsory and obligatory if we want to have any sort of relationship with God – and forgiveness is not just lip service either. Forgiveness needs to come from a heart changed by God and a life lived and ruled by the Holy Spirit.

What if you just can’t reconcile the situation and he/she won’t have anything to do with you? What if you are a Christian, will the non-reconciliation of a brother or sister spoil your relationship with God? Could that possibly happen even if you have been faithful and true to the Lord?

Romans 12:18 says we are to do everything possible to live at peace with one another, as far as it depends on us. But we are not responsible for the actions of anyone else including our siblings and parents.  Their behaviour as far as their refusal to forgive cannot penalise our future with God.

Matthew 18 also talks about this subject.

We do however need to show our sibling through our behaviour, the same love and understanding that Jesus showed. We need to reflect his humility and goodness whenever we have dealings with them and always be ready to show love and forgiveness at all times.  We should never seek revenge, and always think of them as more important than our feelings of hurt.

Praying always that our siblings will come to a point in their lives where, maybe through your witness of a life changed by God, that they will be able to forgive and reconcile.

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Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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