Two boys arguing with each other take it to an all-time level with fist fights. Two sisters pull and scratch each other’s hair, brother and sister upset the home causing even the dog to hide under the bed. Then mom and dad are at each other’s throats, before you know it the whole house comes tumbling down. Jesus was quite specific with His message toward this kind of contention as He wrote through John, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:15).
At the root of conflict in the home is the sin of jealousy and pride. The antidote for this ill behavior is Jesus’s new command, “…Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). We are to follow the example of Jesus! Sadly too many siblings and parents follow the example of Cain (Genesis 4).
Cain’s actions toward his brother revealed an evil heart. God instructed Cain that if he would continue to not do what is right, sin would always be crouching at his door. He further explained that even though sin’s desires haunted him, he needed to master it and rule over it. Cain had the upper hand, but he did not listen to God. In the end, his jealousy and pride led him to kill his brother and ultimately be cast away from the Lord’s presence. This is such a sad ending!
If we do not address conflict between siblings at the beginning, they (and their parents) will bond in hatred instead of love. Nothing pains me more than to see children grow up among hatred, jealousy and discord. The worst is to see parents engage in the squabble, too. The temptation for parents is to simply separate the two in conflict and not deal with it. This may bring a temporary peace to the problem, but it rarely solves it. At some point the conflict has to be painfully confronted.
Some suggestions in how to make a happy ending? Parents…
- Don’t take sides! The only side to take is God’s. Using 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, teach your children that love is a decision and a commitment.
- Damn the sin! Teach your children to repent for their conflict first to God and then to their sibling. Nothing frees us to do what is right like true repentance.
- Die to self! Teach your children to be friends. Give them opportunities to give up something they want for the sole purpose of making their friend happy.
- Deliver the goods! Encourage your children to put their love to action. Nothing is more hateful than to see a brother or sister in need and then see their sibling ignore it when they have the power to help. Actions speak louder than confessions.
Discord is a dangerous thing in a family. It’s heart breaking enough to see it in families, but we see it in church families, too! Not solving sibling rivalry in the home often bleeds into the family of God. It just gets uglier!
Conflicts are hard to solve. We need to remember that it is not our power that forgives and grants grace, it is the Holy Spirit in us that works through all. Remember, reconciliation is a God-work, not a man-work.
Be encouraged as you read Corrie ten Boom’s words below. If anyone had the right to hate her enemies, she did. But not giving into her ‘right’ she gave into God’s power to love instead. If she can do this with her enemies (and they were treacherous), we can do the same within our family!
“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”
Take the new route, the route that God has deemed, the one where His eternal life resides: teach your children to love one another through the deed of reconciliation. Do this hard work, my parent friends. In the end, you will reap the harvest of lifelong relationships. This will not only bring peace to your home, it will bring joy to your heart!
Related Scriptures: 1 John 3:11-18; Genesis 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net