It is inevitable that conflict will come when two people live, work, play or worship together. An extremely quoteable pastor from years past, Jack Green, once said, “If two people live together, there will be conflict, unless one of the two people is dead.”
I’ve always assumed that if there is a conflict between two people at least one of those people is angry. That does not mean, of course, that one of the two people is sinning. The Bible clearly says, “Be angry and sin not.” This makes it pretty clear that you can be angry and not sin.
I am area director of Special Gathering of Indian River, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. Our mission is to do classic ministry, evangelizing and discipling the people we serve. Like every other pastor who ministers to a particular group, we deliberately tackle issues that are relevant to our members. We talk about the sheltered workshop and having “a job on the outside.” We try to deal with the issue of having to live with your parents FOREVER. Proper behavior with your girl/boyfriend is a scorching hot topic. Yet, I’ve never squarely faced with our members the issue of siblings–until it was a Biblical topic.
Our sermon was on Jacob and Esau. We are all familiar with the bitter rivalry that these men faced, even in the womb. Both mother and father were guilty of fostering these battles, which eventually led to resentments. In the sermon, I explained to our members that their brothers and sisters have given up a lot for them. Because many of our members were sick as children and they have always had special needs, their siblings lives were different from others in their peer group. I urged them to say thank you to their brothers or sisters for helping them and for being kind to them.
I was surprised because one especially sensitive young woman, Michal, spoke up and said, “I don’t have to. My sister loves me.” While I don’t often welcome interruptions during our devotion time, I was happy for this one. As she spoke several of our members vocally agreed with her. Obviously, I’d not made my point clearly.
“No!” I tried to clarify. “I’m not saying that they resent you so you need to say thank you. I’m saying they have given up a lot for you; and for that reason you need to say thank you. Recently, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “You are so involved with what you don’t have that you don’t appreciate what you do have.”
It is true that our members are discriminated against almost everywhere. But in their homes, they often receive preferential treatment. Siblings see it. They may even be angry; but it’s been my experience that few of them sin. They embrace their disabled partner in family life and move on, helping where they can. Siblings deserve a big thank you for their love, understanding, and caring.
All of us have people in our lives that we take for granted. The evening I graduated from high school, I didn’t want to go out with my friends because I knew that there would be lots of drinking and partying. As a Christian, I didn’t want to put myself into that position. We had invited my cousin to come to the graduation that was held in the evening. After a long and very hot graduation ceremony, my parents took my cousin home. Then we all headed for home. I asked, “Can we go get ice cream?”
“No,” my mother said. “We have to go home.” I was shocked and wounded. It seemed that they would understand that it was a big evening for me and all I wanted some ice cream. As soon as I got home, I started a fight about the ice cream and ran to my room in tears.
My mother came into the dark bedroom and sat on my bed. I thought she had come to soothe me. Instead she scolded, “You have no idea how hard it was for your father to get off work to be able to come to your graduation this evening. You know your dad has been working 60 hours a week for the past four months? He had to fight his boss to come to your graduation. Even though he is exhausted, he has already left to go back to work.” Mama got off my bed and headed to the door. As she left the room, she said nothing but her silence shouted to me, “It’s time to grow up and be thankful for you have!”
Perhaps it’s the father who attended every sports event and risked getting fire to do it or other members of your family. Even after I was married and we had chilren, I remember several times that my father and mother dropped everything and came to help us when we had a need. They lived more thant 400 miles away. Coming to our aid was no easy matter.
Is there someone in your life that you need to thank? Perhaps your husband or wife who does so many little things to please you? What about another person who is careful to help you?