by Tiffany Schlichter
from Virtuous Daughters, April/May 2020~Volume 20, Number 1
Have you ever been frantically searching for something, only to discover that it was right in front of you? The strap to my laptop bag was missing for months, and I became tired of toting the bag by its handles. I finally voiced my frustration to my brother, telling him that I must have lost it during our house move.
Then while preparing for a road trip, I unzipped an inconspicuous pocket of my laptop bag to stuff a paper inside. Lo and behold, there was the strap! All those times I had lugged around my bag, complaining about its missing strap, I was actually carrying it with me!
As Christian girls, we plead earnestly for the Lord to reveal His will for our lives...we claim our willingness to travel to the ends of the earth to accomplish it, for His glory and honor.
Yet sometimes we miss the beautiful treasure of opportunity that God has placed right in front of us. Our Grand Designer placed us in our specific families, in our specific birth order, with our number of siblings (and all the accompanying personalities!) for no arbitrary reason. The opportunity to invest in our brothers and sisters is an eternal work; it is one of the first ministries God has given us.
But our siblings are more than a ministry; they are a priceless treasure. Like any treasure, the sibling relationship should be guarded and tended. In this article, we will look at some ways we can accomplish this by studying sibling relationships in the Bible.
Andrew & Peter
Read John 1:35-42.
Andrew set an example to all of us. After meeting the Lord Jesus, what was his very first thought? He had to tell his brother Simon!! He longed for Simon to share in the fulfillment of God’s promise. Andrew led Simon (later called Peter) to Christ. While Andrew's name slowly fades to the background in the pages of Scripture, his brother would be called to a life of intense ministry consecration. Peter would be forever indebted to Andrew for leading him to their eternal Savior.
What about us? Are we seeking to share Christ with our brothers and sisters? Is their spiritual well-being at the forefront of our minds? When the Lord is working in our heart or we find a nugget of truth in Scripture, do we enthusiastically share this with our siblings? Are we content to be “in the background” when the Lord provides unique opportunities to our siblings? Do we recognize that our humble obedience to God impacts our siblings, even if they do not acknowledge it?
What are your siblings reading in their Bible? What is one of their favorite verses? What has the Lord taught them in the past year? If you don’t have a general idea of the answers to these questions, it might be a good time to strike up an edifying conversation with them! (I think I’m due for one myself!) It will be mutually encouraging to you and your siblings to discuss matters of eternal significance. You can also be more of a team in ministry, even if opportunities to serve are limited to your own home or community. May we continually point our siblings back to the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s eternal Word!
I also tend to think that Andrew was a good listener, since Peter seemed to enjoy talking. :) Do we listen to our siblings? Sometimes I am in such a hurry to complete my daily tasks, that I become impatient when my siblings are talking to me. This sad commentary on the focus of my heart is hurtful to my brothers and sister. Listening to our siblings proves to them that we truly do consider them to be a treasure. It also opens the door for greater depth in our relationships as we learn about their desires, dreams, personality, prayer needs, etc.
Aaron & Moses
Read Exodus 4:10-17, 27-31; Numbers 12:1-16.
How special that God chose brothers (Aaron and Moses) to be partners in ministry! We see no negative reaction from Aaron when Moses announced that he would serve under him. As the older brother, perhaps it was tempting to begrudge the idea of being his little brother’s mouthpiece. Obviously, his job was just as crucial as Moses’, because he also was serving the Lord…yet it would require humility to truly believe this and to meekly speak Moses’ words.
Sadly, Aaron did not retain a spirit of humility. His pride and jealousy would inflict serious consequences. I suspect that Aaron’s sin did not happen in an instant…it likely began with wrong thoughts which initially seemed harmless. However, as he continued to foster feelings of self-pity, envy, discontentment, and pride, his sin would surely find him out. We reap what we sow.
Do you ever feel that you are in the background, supporting your siblings and helping make them successful? This is a high calling, dear sisters! Without you, they could not effectively fill the position to which God has called them. Do not let jealousy, pride, or self-pity build a wall between you and your siblings. It may seem that things are okay now, but if you do not take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, your relationship will suffer the consequences.
There was a time when my sister was given some very special opportunities. Sometimes it was difficult for me to joyfully support her in the gifts she was receiving…partly because it involved sacrificing some of my own desires; partly because what she had was something I had desired for myself. Yet I strongly felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit when wrong thoughts would enter my mind. I remember pleading with the Lord to guard my heart; I cherished our relationship dearly and did not want to forfeit it through envy or self-pity.
God was very gracious to answer that prayer. I remember reading John 15 right before heading outside to trim back my rose bushes. As I clipped the lengthy branches, I prayed, “Lord, purge me, that I may bring forth more fruit.” Through continuously directing my mind to the truth of God’s Word and asking the Lord to fill me with His love, I eventually found great delight in supporting my sister in her gifts. I grew a desire to bless her in her special opportunities, and eagerly sought new ways to do that. I praise the Lord for preserving and even deepening our relationship during a time when it was tempting for me to become self-focused.
Another key quality in our sibling relationships is humility. If our brothers and sisters sense self-righteous or condescending attitudes toward them, they won't respond to our efforts. Pride results in destruction (Proverbs 16:18). We must continually ask the Lord to purge us of pride; He will be faithful to answer this prayer. He will also provide opportunities to seek forgiveness from our siblings, which definitely teaches us humility. :)
Joseph & His Brothers
Read Genesis 37:1-36; 45:1-15.
Joseph’s sibling journey was not something he would have designed on his own. He endured intense suffering because of his brothers’ malicious schemes. Yet Joseph’s God-honoring, faith-filled response is where we find our lesson: he believed that God had a purpose in even the darkest of trials; because of this, he lovingly forgave his brothers. Beautiful restoration occurred as Joseph loved and received his brothers.
Thankfully, most of us will never experience Joseph’s pain, but there is still much to learn from his example. Do you have a difficult sibling relationship? Maybe you have a brother or sister who is not right with the Lord, or perhaps he or she has greatly wronged you. Maybe you have shared something about the Lord’s plan for your life, and they mock you. Maybe God or your parents have entrusted you with a special responsibility, and your siblings despise you for it. This is obviously not God’s design for your sibling relationship, but God will not be defeated. He can bring beauty out of ashes. Like Joseph, remain faithful no matter where the sibling struggles might lead you. Trust God to bring eternal purpose out of the deepest trials. Pray for your siblings. Forgive them before they even ask for it. Someday, perhaps when you least expect it, you will see God work in ways you could never dream possible.
Mary & Martha
Read Luke 10:38-42; John 11:5; John 12:1-3.
The story of Mary and Martha has always intrigued me. Their opposite personalities bring a smile to my face as I reflect on my own sister relationship. In spite of their differences—and even occasional conflicts—each had a beautiful role to fill and a place to serve. Ultimately, they were united in their devoted love for Jesus Christ.
What about us? Do we all allow personality differences or contrasting opinions to cause division in our sibling relationships? Or do we focus on Christ, recognizing that He alone provides unity and purpose as a family serving Him together? The Bible records Jesus’ love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus; this threesome held a special place in His heart. What efforts can we make to cultivate a greater depth of strength and unity in our sibling relationships?
On a practical note, I encourage you to see differences as a good thing. It can be easy to think that our way of doing things is the right way. But actually, there is rarely one right opinion or method for anything, as my siblings and I have certainly learned. We have grown much closer to each other by taking the time to (peaceably :)) talk through difficult situations, endeavoring to see things from different perspectives.
David & His Brothers
Read 1 Samuel 17:20-50.
Though there seems to be a hint of sibling rivalry, what I find interesting is that David’s obedience to his father led to an opportunity to glorify God in a greater way. David’s support of his brothers’ endeavors provided an outlet to be a testimony to them of God’s might and faithfulness. Even if we cannot physically assist our siblings in their work, it is always possible to take interest in their personal projects. One way I have sought to support my pianist brother is by attending his recitals. It's also been special to help another brother with the office work of his roofing business; we have learned together! You will be amazed at all you learn as you ask questions and take interest in your siblings' pursuits. Though they might not verbally express it, your interest in their lives speaks volumes of your love for them. Furthermore, our involvement in their lives can be used by God as a springboard for greater opportunities of ministry and service.
Jacob & Esau
Read Genesis 25:24-34; 32:1-33:1-15.
Jacob and Esau were twins, but they had very little in common. All through childhood and well into adulthood, they were at odds with one another.
Likewise, we will find it very difficult to invest in our siblings and joyfully sacrifice for them if we are consumed with ourselves. Recalling God’s unconditional love for us compels us to lay down our lives for our siblings each day: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16
Also, if there is nothing else we as sisters can do, we can pray for our siblings. Jacob prayed fervently about his meeting with Esau. I have increasingly realized that the most vital battles we fight are on our knees. Talking to our siblings, leading a godly example, and serving them are excellent ways to encourage them...but only God can work in their hearts and draw them to Himself. We must earnestly pray for them. Pray for their salvation if they are not saved. If they are Christians, pray for their present decisions, spiritual growth, future plans, etc. I prayed for months about a difficult situation regarding one of my siblings. At first I saw little to no impact of those prayers. Today, however, I am awwed at the mercy and grace of God in answering each of those prayers, though not in my way or timing.
Furthermore, we cannot expect to experience flourishing sibling relationships in our own strength. We must go in the strength of the Lord God, as Jacob did before meeting with Esau.
Enjoy your siblings. These relationships will last a lifetime, but the window of concentrated time with your siblings is fleeting. Do things together. This could be spontaneous, like running to the grocery store with your brother to pick up ingredients for banana pudding. It might be reading a book with your little siblings every night before bedtime. Or perhaps it will be a structured activity, such as a Siblings Weekly Bible Study at the park. Just be sure to spend time together!
Several years ago, my brother Jason planted an avocado seed in our backyard. Despite his efforts to water it faithfully, nothing happened. Then unexpectedly, on a hot Texas summer day, we observed that the seed had cracked open…and a tiny avocado plant was growing!! Jason confessed that just when he had given up hope of seeing it grow, a surprise popped out of the ground.
In any work God calls us to, we won't always see the fruit right away; we must trust that the Lord will give increase in His perfect time. “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:31 We should never allow ourselves to give into the lie that our efforts are in vain. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 Let us be faithful as we yield ourselves wholly to the Lord; then may He accomplish His work in our sibling relationships.
In Luke 12:34, Jesus said that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Is our heart wholly invested in our sibling relationships? Have we cherished them, putting ourselves last when necessary? May the treasure of our siblings become increasingly priceless as we love and embrace them as precious gifts from God!
The Article Library
This "Library" contains articles that were published in previous issues of Virtuous Daughters. It will keep growing as we continue to upload articles from the 20 years of printing. We pray they are an encouragement to you!