Sibling Rivalry

sibling rivalry

Yes, this was staged by my grandsons. They are actually perfect little angels, of course.

Every evening after supper, my dad would lead us in family devotions. After reading a portion of Scripture, each person, starting with the youngest, was expected to say a prayer. Too young, perhaps, to come up with my own, Dad would prompt me: “Help me not to fight with Grace Anne and Paul!” Thankfully, any sibling conflicts we had as children have long been resolved and forgotten, and we three sibs feel only love and adoration for each other today. But not every family is so fortunate.

The famous David and Goliath story (I Samuel 17:29) begins with David’s dad Jesse sending him to the Philistine battleground with food and supplies for his older brothers. David arrives at the site, sees Goliath, and starts asking questions. Eliab, David’s oldest brother, gets angry and attacks him verbally, sarcastically. And David responds with, “What have I done now? Was it not a harmless question?”

You wonder how long this sibling conflict has been going on. We can only imagine, but I suspect that Eliab is sore that David got anointed king instead of him, the firstborn. There’s hurt, pride, and jealousy.

And David? It’s not his fault that he’s been chosen by God. It’s inevitable, it seems, that others will criticize, put down, and try to discourage God’s anointed one. But David did not take pride in his own strength; instead he gave the credit to God: The LORD delivered me from the bear and the lion . . . and He will deliver me from this Philistine.

The Result:  God replaced the curses of his big brother with the blessings of a new and better brother:  Jonathan.

It’s interesting to note that after David flees from King Saul, his family (including his brothers), hear of it and come to him. I wonder what Eliab thinks of him now? And how will he feel when David becomes his ruler?

Do you have a sibling (or a sibling in the Lord) who has shunned you, picked on you, or criticized you?  Or maybe you’re jealous that your sister or brother got all the attention, good looks, and talents. How do you respond?

Who’s Really the Teacher?

From my 2010 Journal. This morning I was teaching the story of David and Saul to my Grade 3 Sunday school class. Wanting to illustrate the subject of jealousy, I began the lesson by asking the children to look at each other’s eyes and tell me what color they were. We had 5 children with brown eyes, and 3 who had blue. Next, I told them that I had a special gift for each of the blue-eyed children:  a one-dollar gift certificate to McDonald’s. I instructed the brown eyes to clap and applaud for them. And then I paused, waited, watching for their response. I asked the brown-eyes how they felt about their classmates’ gift. One said she felt “left out.” Another said, “sad,” and another “unfair.” They all admitted to feeling jealous.ice cream

And then it happened. Little blue-eyed Ethan stood up and walked over to brown-eyed Holly (who had made a decision just this week to follow Jesus) and gave her his gift certificate. I praised him and then immediately handed him a replacement.

Next I told them the story of when handsome, beautiful-eyed, strong, courageous, musically-gifted David was anointed king (not because of his outward appearance, but because of his heart for God), about his brothers’ jealousy, about his slaying of Goliath, and Saul’s subsequent love and admiration for him. And then how the women sang “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands” and how Saul’s admiration turned to jealousy, to hatred, and eventually to attempted murder.

We discussed what things made 3rd graders jealous (toys, talents, privileges), and how jealousy can lead to bad things. We talked about how God gives each of us gifts—not for the purpose of self-glory, but to be used for Him and given away.

In conclusion, I instructed the other two blue-eyes to hand their gifts to two of the brown-eyes. Not fair? Oh no! Because when we give our gifts away to minister to others, God blesses us in return. And I handed each of the blue eyes a replacement. Once the point was made, I made sure each child had a gift certificate.

I told the children the gift was theirs to use as they wished. They could spend it on themselves, or they could give it away to bless someone else. It was their choice.

Brown-eyed Chandler said he was going to give his to his brother. Blue-eyed Ethan said, “I wish I could rip mine in half so both my brother and I could use it!” Melina observed that Ethan had given his away twice, and she tried to hand her coupon to him, but he declined. “It’s okay. You keep it,” he said. And then his creative solution: “I know! I’ll spend it on ice cream and I can share it with my brother that way!” Later, Melina sent me a photo of herself enjoying her ice cream.

I think the children taught me as much as I tried to teach them that day!