Last September, my wife Cassidy and I honeymooned at a cabin nestled in the forests, rolling hills, and cornfields of Wisconsin. After enjoying a week together, nine of our brothers bombed our honeymoon!
Now for those of you who think it strange for your brothers hijack your honeymoon, relax and take a deep breath.
To clarify, WE actually invited THEM over!!! On their way to Family Camp, they joined us for Sunday church, food, fellowship, and fun at our cabin. In the church service, we gave each of them varying responsibilities, from preaching, to song-leading, to ushering, to prayer, to announcements. They were thrilled to be there!
There’s absolutely no one else we would rather have had over that day. We were reminded how grateful we were to have brothers who treasured sibling relationships.
They are not simply our brothers. They’re our best friends.
Deep family relationships are declining in America. Ask the average American who their best friend is and they will likely answer their friend from school, church, work, or social media. They probably won’t tell you their best friend is their youngest brother.
This is not how God designed family relationships to be.
In this post we’ll examine seven reasons why lasting sibling relationships are worth building. They may be more important than you think.
1. Your Future Family
Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” You will likely treat your future spouse and children just as you treated your own siblings and parents.
If you exercise selfishness, bitterness, and ingratitude at home, you will exercise those same character traits with your own spouse and children. If you have no time for your siblings today, how will you have time for your own family tomorrow?
J.R. Miller, the great nineteenth century family commentator noted, “If he is not a true gentleman to his own sisters, can he be at heart a true gentleman to any other woman?” Likewise, a sister will likely treat her future husband in the same way that she treated her father and brothers. If you’re still single, are you treating your siblings today how you wish to treat your spouse and children tomorrow?
Will you prepare for your own future family by blessing your siblings today?
2. Your Example to Your Siblings
The apostle Paul charged Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (living), in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12).
Like my brothers, I used to always comb my hair down till my older brother Mitchell became the first in the brotherhood to experiment with a creative hairstyle. Around age 18, he began combing his hair up, or as we called it, in a “poof”. Today, I and all of brothers use that same hairstyle, with the exception of my brother Taylor, who prefers a buzz.
Though we often overlook it, our siblings emulate us more than we think. Every day, you are leaving examples to your siblings. Are they good or a bad ones?
God did not give you your siblings by accident. If you wisely steward your God-given influence you can encourage your younger siblings to love God’s Word, develop godly character, and wisely spend their younger years.
Your siblings should see in you an example worth following. As Paul beseeched the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1).
Young lady, would you be satisfied if your brother married someone like you? Young man, would you be satisfied if your sister married someone like you?
3. Your Future Life Relationships
In His wisdom, God placed diverse personalities within a family so that siblings could learn to get along with every type of person in life.
The family is a smaller reflection of the larger body of Christ described in I Corinthians 12. Paul notes that “the body is not one member but many” (I Corinthians 12:14) and that each member has differing parts.
In a sense, God gave family as a training ground for real life. Learning to love our siblings is more important than we often realize, because bad siblings relationships can affect us our entire life.
In their book, “A Father’s Reward,” Phil Downer and Jerry MacGregor describe what happens when siblings don’t learn to get along with one another.
They are not learning to live together as a family. The kids are growing up with so much protection from personal relationships that no one really knows what is going on inside their heads. Instead of being eager to maintain unity, the children never learn to be unselfish. Rather than working out their differences and conflicts with their siblings, they simply pack stuff between each other, so they do not have to deal with one another.
We are delivering into the Christian community people who are inept at dealing with relationships, incompetent at resolving conflicts, and unable to reach other people with God’s love. They are consumers, nothing more.
Unfortunately, those who do not learn to love their siblings often find it difficult to love others later in life. If you can love your family, you can love anyone. If you can forgive your siblings, you can forgive anyone.
4. Your Christian Witness and Testimony
The Bible is filled with countless examples of strained sibling relationships, from Cain and Abel, to Jacob and Esau, to Joseph and his brothers, to Abimelech and his brothers, to David and his brothers, to Amnon and Absalom, and to Jehoram and his brothers.
In contrast to these examples, Psalm 133:1 states, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” John 13:35 states, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
This Christian unity and love begins in the home.
Family disharmony makes Christianity unattractive to unbelievers. Not only that, family disharmony make Christianity seem fake and insincere. In contrast, a unified family is a powerful witness.
How can we expect to witness to the lost and to herald the blessing of family when we have disharmony within our own homes?
5. Your relationship with God
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now” (I John 2:8).
I John 4:19 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
In reality, your relationship with your siblings affects your relationship with God. Bitterness or hatred in your heart toward a sibling will hinder your walk with God.
Strife with a sibling will hinder your relationship with God. However, heartfelt love to your siblings will always draw you closer to God.
If your horizontal relationship with your siblings is unhealthy, how can your vertical relationship with God be healthy?
6. Your Lifelong Blessing
Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
God designed your siblings to be a source of strength to you through life’s trials. Though it may seem that building lasting sibling relationships is hard work, in the long run, lifelong sibling friendships are worth the effort.
Throughout your life, your family can provide a level of strength and encouragement that no other friend can. Other friends will come and go, but a committed family is one of life’s greatest blessings.
7. Your Most Important Relationships
We often forget why family relationships are the most important human relationships. Family and sibling relationships are important because God created the family.
Before He instituted church or government, God instituted the family (Genesis 1:27-28). God carefully designed families to pass down the application of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:1-9), minister as a unit (I Corinthians 16:15), and bless the world (Genesis 22:18).
As Psalm 128 tells us, a healthy family is a blessing of obedience to God.
The family did not simply evolve. It was carefully crafted by God for His specific purpose. Because God created family, we should treasure sibling relationships as part of His master plan.
Do you prioritize sibling relationships as much as God does?
Rediscovering Lasting Sibling Relationships
While some may claim that your best friends should be your peers, God desires your siblings to be your best friends.
By loving our siblings, we prepare ourselves for future marriage, family, and life relationships. Additionally, we leave worthwhile examples to our siblings, and shine the light of Christ in a world of darkness. We draw closer to God, experience His blessing, and prioritize His highest institution.
In the words of D.L. Moody, “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian… and most of all, his family ought to know.”
Question: “Why do we often undervalue sibling relationships? What mental shifts must we make in order to see our siblings as God sees them?”
Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally
A Father’s Reward by Phil Downer and Jerry MacGregor