For past two days I have read with sadness the strife of siblings from an illustrious family.
Aristotle once said, “Cruel is the strife of brothers.”
Even though I am saddened yet I am not surprised.
The strife of siblings is as old as Cain and Abel. One couldn’t stand the other. He was envious and may have been trying to outdo the other for weeks, months or even years and finally decided Abel’s approved offering was the last straw.
Then we read about the twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. They were struggling, competing and fighting each other even as they were born (Genesis 25:26). Jacob eventually cheated his brother out of his inheritance and had to flee to another country for fear of his life.
Trouble was brewing in the home of King David. His eldest son Amnon was infatuated with his half-sister Tamar and raped her. Her brother Absalom was outraged and set out to take revenge. He threw a party for royal sons and when Amnon was drunk, Absalom ordered his servants to kill the heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 13:28).
If you think these are mostly stories from the Old Testament, Jesus told the parable of the two prodigal sons (Luke 15:11-32). One squandered away all his inheritance and was welcomed home by the father. The other, the elder son was so upset for he felt he was not getting his fair share of attention and privileges.
Jesus himself witnessed siblings in strife when he visited the home of Mary and Martha. Both sisters have drastically different ideas of what they should do when Jesus came to their home (Luke 10:38-42).
The Bible is full of stories about siblings in strife.
Iyanla Vanzant, the no-nonsense relationship expert in the Ophrah Show said, “Family is supposed to be our safe heaven. Very often it is the place where we find the deepest headache.”
You still find conflict, antagonism, quarrels, clashes, competition, jealousy, hatred, misunderstanding, disagreement, arguments, hurtfulness, deceitfulness and dishonesty among siblings today just as all these were evident in the siblings of the Bible.
And it is because we all struggle with our sinful flesh.
When self-centred brothers and sisters live in close contact with one another, strife is inevitable. Whilst few things in life are as stressful as siblings in strife yet according to Dr De Haan the nearest thing to heaven on earth is a happy and harmonious home.
Perhaps the apostle Paul has that in mind when he wrote:
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbour (or siblings) as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:14–15).
Today I am not watching the news to see what is the outcome. I am praying for a good outcome for the siblings in strife.