There are quite a few examples of rubbish siblings in the bible. Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit, Miriam was jealous of Moses’ success so gossipped and criticised his choice of wife, Cain murdered his brother Abel. Last night I was reading about David and his brothers.
David’s brothers were mean to him. He was the youngest brother, the little sheep boy that was the subject of most of their jokes. When David came to bring his brothers supplies at the battle field, the oldest brother Eliab said, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28). He thought David was a loser, instead of thanking him for getting up early to bring him supplies, criticised how he had deserted the sheep. Eliab said everything he could to mock and discourage David, saying he didn’t belong, mocking his trade and accusing him of conceit and deceit. Like Joseph, Moses and Abel’s siblings, Eliab may have been jealous of his brother. Eliab was almost anointed by Samuel as King, but God stopped Samuel and told him to anoint David instead.
Beth Moore says this, “I’m not sure anyone can encourage us or discourage us like family. The views of our family members are very convincing. If people who know us best encourage us the least, we have few chances to develop confidence.” I think this is so true.
I have 3 siblings, my older sister Claire, my older brother Duncan and my younger brother Stuart. We’re in alphabetical order by age. (Mum tells us it wasn’t intentional). Let me introduce you to them:
Claire and I are opposite and identical. We have the same laugh, we like the same clothes, we like the same style of things, we’re both stubborn, we like the same perfumes, we both are planners and enjoy thinking about the future.
But we’re completely differently. She’s a really light sleeper, I’m a deep sleeper. I like jewellery, she would (I quote) “rather die than wear jewellery”. She has far better spacial awareness than me. If we’re out, I always end up walking in front of her and she will follow behind.
For as long as I can remember Claire has been into horses. She was the sister with my little ponies and sylvanian families, and I was the one with the barbies and polly pockets. She spent her Saturdays in pony yards. All she’s ever wanted to do is help people through working with horses and now she does that through her job.
I love Claire because her dainty, delicate and fragile exterior is very deceptive. I am so proud of how in circumstances where people would quit, Claire remains positive and optimistic, resilient and determined. She knows what she likes and is very self disciplined, getting up well before the sun rises to get to work. She has a huge capacity to love, always befriends the outsider in the room and the people on the outskirts. She is one of the most generous people I know and does all that is within her means (often outside her means actually…) to help other people. She is so patient and hates the limelight being on her (at times where she’s been forced to sit near the front at church, she’ll excuse herself half way through so she can move to the back). She’s dreading walking down the aisle at my wedding as maid of honour and has asked if she can sneak in the side door (No Claire, you can’t or I’ll make you wear jewellery…). She takes every opportunity to celebrate and be thankful, always buying people gifts to show she appreciates them. Claire has always inspired me in my faith with her own personal holiness, she has encouraged me, bought me books and Cd’s, signed me up for events and continually seeks ways to be closer to God herself.
My older brother and fellow “middle child” sibling is Duncan. He’s easy going, focused, determined and (just like me) refuses to admit he’s wrong. He’s very hardworking and annoyingly organised compared to my more flexible organisational system. He’s very together and reliable, taxi driving Stuart and I around when we were younger and helping Ben out when he was in a car accident.
The rest of us joke that he’s above us in life as he’s got a proper job and is living away from home, well on his way in his career, particulary compared to us lazy children who are skiving off Mum and Dad. Duncan’s decisive and uses his initiative but he also has the annoying ability to make up any statistic or fact and present it in manner that makes it appear like he knows exactly what he’s talking about… This probably stems from his competitiveness which we both have and have spent many arguments comparing who had the better school/university and who was the better artist/sportsman/monopoly player etc etc (it’s usually me…) Duncan is very independent and is also the reason why I walk so fast, from trying to keep up with him when we walked to school together (little did I realise that he was trying to escape me so not to be seen with his little sister.)
Ever since Duncan was a little boy, he has always been into cars. Mum said his first word was tractor. He’s drawn pictures and designed cars for ever and told me pointless facts about the Jaguar XJ220. He owns the majority of car films and dragged us round all the cars from Fast and Furious when we went to Disney World. He’s had posters of various Jaguars and Ferrari’s on his wall for as long as I can remember and has probably watched the majority of the Top Gear episodes. He even called his pet hamster “Porsche”…she was a ghetto hamster. He always wanted to work with cars so did a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. I’m so proud of him as he now has a posh shiny job working at Jaguar as a project manager. Watching God work in him and apply his talents is a privilege and it’s great to see him so happy.
Duncan is also the most injury prone out of all of us. He’s broken the majority of his body parts doing various sporting activities. He’s shot an arrow through his hand, he’s broken his leg playing football, he crashed a quad bike and hurt his shoulder, he’s shattered his elbow doing judo, broken his wrist, cracked his head open. He’s very like Dad though, he keeps his head down and gets on with life even when he’s crashed a quad bike and screwed up his shoulder, he won’t bother worrying the family about it.
Stuart is my little brother (even though he’s a taller than me, he’s still my little brother). His action men used to save my barbie dolls and I spent many hours going along to watch him play football around the country. He, like all the Bryan boys, is very laid back and really smart. He learns from the rest of his siblings mistakes and successes and chooses his own path accordingly.
Stuart is really discerning and wise, he quietly comtemplates matters and observes what is going on around him. He’s shared his insights with me many times on our ways back and forward from church, noting things that I haven’t seen and commenting on various events going on. I love his heart for people. He lovingly and patiently works with special needs children in his job and works at church doing youth work, on the drama team and leading a worship team. He’s committed, willing to get involved and to do his share of the hard work.
Stuart is one of those people who is good at everything. He didn’t just play football, he played academy level football with Reading, Crystal Palace and Southampton. He wasn’t just good at English, he was on a national judging panel for Children’s Book awards. He got full marks in his drama A level. He decided to teach himself guitar and now leads worship. He’s good at school, at music, at sport, at everything. He’s even presented on CBBC alongside Sam and Mark. Stuart inspires me because whatever he attempts, he doesn’t do it half heartedly, he does it excellently and to a really high standard.
Stuart is a leader. He isn’t afraid to be distinctive from others, has integrity, shows wisdom beyond his years and uses his initiative to problem solve. He is a really hard worker and a bit of a perfectionist. He’s able to relate to a variety of people and has shared his desire with me on various occassions to bring people together in the world and be a peacemaker. He is very disciplined with himself, and unlike me, is always on time for things. He dreams big and usually through hard work and determination reaches his goals. He is a modern day example of “you reap what you sow”.
Over the years, we’ve given each other our fair share of insults, mockery and discouragement. I don’t think I’ve locked my siblings in a pit and sold them into slavery, but I’ve locked them in rooms when we were younger, fought over the remote, called them all sorts of names, smashed up an apple sized conker that one of them found (that was me Stuart…sorry!). There were childhood fights ripping up each others posters, an incident with a swimsuited Duncan being pushed in a ditch of stinging nettles and occasions where we attempted to put jewellery on Claire when she slept…amongst many others.
With family, it’s easy to be negative as you don’t have to act with the same niceties and politeness that you do with other people, which means that we’re often inclined to be unkind. Out of all the people in the entire world, it’s probably my brothers and sisters that I have been the most discouraging to.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up”
As I’ve grown up, I’ve tried to do this with my siblings more as the fighting has stopped and general conversations takes its place. I still fail at times and snap at them, and they’ll probably now quote this verse at me the next time I insult them which I’m sure I’ll greatly appreciate at the time. But I am very proud of them and, despite the fact that I got dumped with a bedroom which was designed to be a wardrobe/dressing room (that’s how servant hearted I am…) I wouldn’t have it any other way. Mum and Dad, you’ve done a good job xx