Seven Reasons to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships (Part I)

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.”

Part II: “10 Ways to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships

Be sure to read part II to discover ten practical ways to build lasting relationships with your siblings.

Question: “Why do we often undervalue sibling relationships? What mental shifts must we make in order to see our siblings as God sees them?”

Recommended resources:

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally

A Father’s Reward  by Phil Downer and Jerry MacGregor

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Disclosure of Material Connection: The links in the above post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend books I personally have read and believe will add value to my readers. 

13 thoughts on “Seven Reasons to Build Lasting Sibling Relationships (Part I)

  1. Wonderful post! It really made me sit back and reevaluate my relationship with my siblings. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    God bless your family!

  2. Joshua,
    Thank you sooo much for this. I have 3 sisters. 2 older & 1 younger. Sibling relationships is so important!!!! I have friends who don’t really care about their older brother, or vice versa. That in itself is really sad to me. I admire your family a lot.
    Blessings,
    Mary

  3. I think one reason we undervalue sibling relationships is the habit of wrong thinking…as a man thinketh in his heart so is he. If you think negativity about a sibling than that will come out. Also I think it could be easy to simply take that sibling relationship fore granted and not see the value and benefit of cultivating it. Could it be that time is a factor in this relationship crisis? We simply don’t make time to invest in their lives and then before we realize it, they have moved on in life!

    As to your other question (to mentally shift our thoughts into thinking the God wants us to in regard to our siblings), probably the first thing to do is confess to God whatever sin you are committing in regard to our sibling relationships. Whether it’s hurtful words, selfishness, anger, jealousy you know what it is! As we realize that the wrong things that we do to our siblings is sin then God can show us how to better our relationship with them!
    Create in me a clean heart O God an renew a right spirit within me.
    So do you think that social media might have an negative effect on the sibling relationship? And if so, how might one go about managing this so that it isn’t such negative influence…how does a believer use the technology of today and not get too swept away with it?
    Josh and Cassidy, thanks for working to influence the world for Jesus! I appreciate the way you encourage us to think!

    1. Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your insightful comment!

      If abused, social media and technology (texting, internet, media, etc.,) can negatively impact sibling relationships. Whenever technology takes the place of important relationships it is a problem.

      Here are a few tips I would have:

      1. Strive to be focused and completely present in every conversation. If possible, resolve not to use technology at dinnertime or in pubic.

      2. Ask, “Do I love social media or my siblings more?” Because time demonstrates the measure of our love, evaluating how much time you spend on each is a good exercise.

      3. Ask, “Is social media negatively impacting my sibling relationships?”

      4. Try a week-long media fast. This is a great way to determine how much media is really affecting you.

      5. Prayerfully seek God to know how much time to spend on social media in order to “do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

      1. #2 asks if we care about social media more than our siblings. Probably our immediate response would be our siblings. But how often do we ignore our siblings when we are on social media? I definitely think that this could effect our relationship with siblings and I completely agree with #5. Thanks so much for doing this post! And sharing these tips.

        ~Marie

  4. What a fabulous post! I have two brothers, 7 and 9 years older than I am. With the age gap, it makes it harder to find things to talk about, especially since they both work full time and one lives a couple of hours away. Thank you for encouraging me to be a better little sis!!

  5. I am the only girl sandwiched between my brothers. I was closer with my older brother when I was little because we shared a room. Our first house only had two bedrooms. When we moved I still slept in his room. He had a bunk bed. When I was eight I moved to my own room and my younger brother followed me, sleeping in a pop up bed. He had his own room but enjoyed sleeping in mine because we would stay up late and talk to each other. There is about four years difference between myself and my older brother and myself and my younger brother. As we grew up and did our own things we grew apart. I still talk to them and spend time with them when I can. Yes, relationships with family are important but so are relationships with friends.

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