What do fictional characters like Thor, sports icons such as Jim Harbaugh, and Biblical characters like Cain, Jacob, and Joseph all have in common?

They all had siblings who, at some point,  kept them from getting what they wanted.

Can you relate to that? Sibling rivalry is an age-old battle and many of us have experienced it in our personal lives or in our children. The Bible gives us insight and  helpful perspective on why we have the siblings we have, and shows us a few ways we can turn sibling rivalry into harmony.

Understand your needs

What a person desires is unfailing love better to be poor than a liar.

Proverbs 19:22

One of the first steps to overcoming sibling rivalry is understanding why we are competing in the first place. Scriptures teach that every single one of us, whether you are a Christian or not, wants to feel loved and believe that we’re special and unique.

There are ways we can try to get this need met, like by doing really well in school, having a successful job, having the “perfect” body, or making our parents proud. When we look for unfailing love from the people around us (like our parents), we will find ourselves competing with anyone and everyone else for their attention.

What things in your life do you look to to meet your need for unfailing love? Success at work or in school? Approval of people around you? Your appearance or sports?

Understand your arguments

One of the most obvious symptoms of rivalry is constant arguing. Understanding why we fight can bring peace that actually lasts.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

James 4:1-3

The Bible says that one thing that causes arguments and fights is when we want something, but don’t get it.

To overcome sibling rivalry, we must admit the desires we have that aren’t getting fulfilled. We often get angry and bitter when our desires for attention, security, satisfaction, love, and intimacy in our relationships  go unfulfilled by our siblings or parents. This comes out in getting angry when we feel our siblings or parents don’t make time for us or consider us.

However, what the scripture also says is that we won’t feel fulfilled if we don’t ask God for what we need. Friends and family are great, but because they are only human they will inevitably make mistakes, just like we do. Having a friendship with God means you are friends with a God who will never let you down, leave you, run out of time for you, or hurt your feelings. When you have this, you are much more able to forgive and move on when other people make mistakes, because their actions don’t have to control your happiness.

Do you have this kind of friendship with God yourself? If not, try reading the book of Matthew, at least one chapter a day, to begin to get to know God better and learn from the Bible how to be friends with Him.

Understand why you have the siblings you have

Having a sibling is not a mistake; God’s perspective is that siblings are actually a gift to help us become who we’re supposed to be.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

1 Corinthians 12:18

We were born in the family we have for a reason. There are specific things that we are supposed to learn from our relationship with a brother or sister that we couldn’t otherwise learn. Siblings with special needs create compassion in us, for example, and perhaps we wouldn’t be able to become who we need to be without understanding what it means to suffer through challenges.

Scriptures teach that God arranges our relationships just as he wants them to be. We have the perfect siblings to help us reach our destiny. The learning process can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, but it will produce what God intends in the long run (Hebrews 12). This perspective helps us to believe that we actually need our sibling.

How do you think your siblings could help you become who you are meant to be? Why do you think God gave you the siblings you have?

Understand that doing good to your siblings goes a long way.

A relationship with God can help us go from competing with siblings, to supporting them.

For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

John 7:5

Even Jesus had problems with his siblings. James was Jesus’ brother, and for many years, he didn’t believe that Jesus was who He said He was, and didn’t support him.

Nonetheless, some time after Jesus’ resurrection, James became one of the pillars of the christian faith. He went from not believing in his brother to being one of his main supporters and followers. Don’t give up on your relationships with your siblings! Every effort you make now to get along with them and help them will go a long way in the future.

What is one way you can do good for your brother or sister today?

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