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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The One Time Sibling Rivalry is Good!

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10, ESV)

My dad grew up with nine other siblings in his house; my mom had six. Growing up, I often wondered what that must have been like to have to navigate life being responsible to and for so many other people. I was blessed with two brothers and a sister, but there is such a large age difference between me and them (they are 11, 10 and 8 years older than me) that, at least growing up, I felt like an outsider. Oh, there were still moments where I experienced sibling rivalry, sibling protection, and sibling provision, but it really wasn’t until I got older that I really began to see the how uniquely and wonderfully we all fit together.

Each of my siblings has a distinct personality and role in the family. One is the protector of each of us. If any of the others is not exactly “friendly” to another, they are the first to call them out for it. Another is the level headed one. There is not much that flusters or upsets them. Then there is the button pusher. They know just what to say to get to the other (even occasionally, the level-headed one). Now, such a mix could indeed be caustic and volatile. It is not too hard to imagine how those traits could lead to an unending stream of fights and anger. But what binds us together is that our parents instilled in each of us a sense of personal responsibility, familial responsibility, and above all else love. And so, traits that might lead to resentment and division serve only to strengthen and unify. The protector functions to make certain that each of us feels appreciated and a part of the family. Because the level headed one is so even-keeled, they help us as a group be that way too. And because of our love for another (and their clear love for the rest of us), the button pusher is really more about keeping us all humble and helping us not take ourselves too seriously than about making us angry.

When you consider who the Church is supposed to be, the picture should not be all that different. We are a mix of different backgrounds, personalities, traits, and perspectives. This mix can often be caustic and volatile, and if we are not careful can (and has) lead to division and damage. But it can also be beautiful and transformative when we remember we have a Father who binds us together; who has called us to familial responsibility, personal responsibility, and above all else genuine love! I think it is significant that the only competition between believers outlined in Scripture is the competition to “outdo one another in showing honor.” That is when sibling rivalry is a good thing!

The Church ought to portray the best part of what it means to be brothers and sisters and we do that by genuinely competing to see which of us can better pur others before ourselves. The world will tell us that an individual cannot survive if he or she is not looking out for themselves. But the Word of God tells us that until we die to ourselves, we will never experience life. And there is no more readily apparent expression of dying to ourselves than to be able to relate to the differences present in the body of believers by showing love and putting others first. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

I guess in reality I don’t have to wonder what it is like to navigate life being responsible to and for so many other people – I experience it every day as a part of the Family of God.

A picture of the four of us...from a few years ago...

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