Siblings: What is the Lord’s plan for relationships within the family?

Bible verses on siblings and sibling rivalry

The world is made up of the interweaving and intersecting between individuals and groups, which we call human relationships. Society exists as a result of these relationships. They provide companionship and communication, and through them we give and receive love and understanding. Through relationships we develop, grow, and learn, and from them we obtain self-esteem, identity and significance.

All of Scripture involves relationships, both with God and with our fellow human beings. Some of the most challenging relationships are those within the family circle, especially among siblings. The Lord’s plan from the beginning has been for the family to be the foremost arena in which each of us develops identity, self-esteem, self-worth and a relationship with God. Our siblings play an important role in helping determine not only who we are but also who we become.

Siblings provide us with a unique opportunity to give and receive love as well as to develop tolerance, an appreciation for others, communication skills, an ability to forgive, and an understanding of genuine companionship.

Scripture offers these principles about sibling relationships:

1. We must allow a sibling freedom to develop his or her own traits and abilities and to pursue the unique call of God in life. Martha and Mary were very different in personality; yet each had a unique relationship with the Lord (Luke 10:38–42; John 11:20–44).

2. We are not to criticize our siblings in public, but we are to resolve our differences in the privacy of the family circle. Miriam paid a high price for publicly criticizing her brother’s choice of a wife (Numbers 12:1–15).

3. We are to rejoice without jealousy or ill will when good things happen to our siblings (Luke 15:11–32).

4. We are to do our best always to introduce our brothers and sisters to the Lord and build up their faith, just as Andrew introduced Simon Peter to Jesus (John 1:40–42).

Because the way siblings relate to one another is largely based on the way they perceive their parents’ regard for them, a special burden rests on parents to treat all their children with equal love and value, just as our heavenly Father does. Yet, at the same time, each child must be nurtured according to his or her unique capabilities and attributes.

Unity and diversity must be linked to togetherness and individuality and all within the framework of the family’s unified goals and direction.

For Reflection

Looking over the list of principles above, can you think of a time where you did the opposite? Reflect on what happened and how you will handle a similar situation differently moving forward.

Article drawn from study features in the NIV Woman’s Study Bible.

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