Family Bible Study lesson for May 23: Improving Sibling Relationships : Friday, April 30, 2004
April 30 2004 by Vic Ramsey

Family Bible Study lesson for May 23: Improving Sibling Relationships : Friday, April 30, 2004
Friday, April 30, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for May 23: Improving Sibling Relationships

By Vic Ramsey
Genesis 27:41; 32:3-5, 9-11; 33:1-5, 10-11

Some time ago, during a Vacation Bible School lesson, my wife asked a fourth-grade girl to read Proverbs 17:17.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity," she read.

After explaining that "adversity" means "trouble," my wife asked her student to explain what she'd read.

"Well," the girl replied, "it means that your friends always love you, and that your brother is always making trouble!"

Not quite what the writer had in mind, but surely true to life, wouldn't you say?

Acknowledge problems

Genesis 27:41

Born as twins, and fighting ever since, Jacob and Esau competed for Isaac's favor. On two occasions, Jacob deceived Esau to win, first the birthright as the oldest son, and later, their father's blessing.

Esau resolved to kill his brother as soon as Isaac died. One is reminded of awkward funeral services with family members refusing to sit with one another, and of unseemly disputes over the property of a deceased parent.

It is worth noting that the conflict between Jacob and Esau is caused, in large part, by Isaac and Rebekah's inability to cooperate in their parental responsibilities. Instead of forming a strong alliance on behalf of both their sons, they each favor one over the other, pitting the brothers against each other.

Pray about the conflict

Genesis 32:9-11

Jacob spent 14 years in exile living with his uncle, Laban, and marrying two of Laban's daughters, Leah and Rachel. He had great wealth. Then the Lord instructed him to return home. To do so meant facing Esau.

Jacob received word that Esau was coming to meet him. Esau brought 400 men, and Jacob feared the worst.

Jacob's prayer was simple and sincere. He had come to appreciate God's grace, and desired only that he and his family be saved from his brother's anger.

Jacob's swagger and arrogance were gone. Getting our own pride out of the way is the first step in reconciliation. When proving that we were right becomes less important than being right today, then we are ready to reconcile.

Take steps to reconcile

Genesis 32:3-5; 33:1-3

Jacob took positive steps to foster an atmosphere of reconciliation. He sent his brother a portion of his flocks; a gift intended to soften his brother's heart.

Then following a night of "wrestling with God," Jacob went to meet Esau.

Every reconciliation requires that someone take the first step. Jacob accepted responsibility for his actions, prepared himself for the consequences, and humbled himself before his brother.

Rejoice in reconciliation

Genesis 33:4-5, 10-11

Esau ran to meet Jacob, not in anger or hostility, but in love and grace. He threw his arms around him, kissed him, and they wept in each other's arms. This scene is one of the most beautiful in the Bible.

Esau asked about Jacob's family, and the flocks he sent. Jacob introduced his wives and children, and after overcoming Esau's objections, convinced him to accept the flocks as his gift.

The two men, separated first by suspicion and competition, and later by sheer physical distance, were reunited as family.

It is worth noting that Esau and Jacob never straightened out who should be considered the first-born. Both had been successful, and both had been blessed by God. The past, they simply ignored.

In accounting, a "bad debt" is one that a person does not reasonably expect to be repaid. Continuing to carry the debt as a potential asset gives an unrealistic picture of a business's finances. Such debts are simply forgotten; they are "written off."

Reconciliation requires that we "write off" the sins committed against us. Our sense of justice sometimes makes it difficult for us to do so. But, if we care about relationships more than we do about being right, then "writing off" the past is what we need to do.

4/30/2004 12:00:00 AM by Vic Ramsey | with 0 comments

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