Loving Siblings Even When Things Are Unfair

Sister behind brother gesturing with fingers behind his head, isolated on white background

At some point, life at your house will probably seem unfair. Older siblings will get extra privileges. Younger siblings won’t have to follow the same rules you did. “Unfair” is inevitable.

Those feelings can lead to jealousy or anger—but only if you let them. Take a look at how brothers and sisters in the Bible responded to “unfair” situations.

Dad’s Favorite

The Bible says Jacob “loved Joseph more than his other sons” (Genesis 37:3). He gave Joseph a colorful robe—the outfit of a king. When Joseph started dreaming about his brothers bowing before him like servants, they decided enough was enough. The brothers sold Joseph into slavery and told their father that a wild animal had killed his favorite son.

Years later, there was a terrible famine. The brothers traveled to Egypt to buy food . . . only to run into Joseph, who was now second-in-command of the entire land. He had the power to execute his brothers, or at least throw them in prison for life. Instead, he forgave them. He gave them food and a new home, saving his entire family. When the brothers tried to apologize, Joseph explained, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).

The “Lazy” Sister

One day, Jesus stopped to eat at the home of two sisters. Martha wanted to honor their guest with a special meal. She spent hours working in the kitchen, with zero help from her sister. Mary just sat in the main room, listening to Jesus. At last, Martha couldn’t take it anymore. She complained, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand” (Luke 10:40).

Jesus knew that Martha had done more than her fair share of the cooking. But He appreciated that Mary chose to spend time with Him instead of worrying about little things like dinner. Remember, Jesus fed thousands of people with a few loaves and some fish—if the meal was truly in crisis, He had the power to handle it. Jesus gently explained to Martha that, while chores are important, in this case her sister had made the better choice by learning more about God.

The Forgotten Girls

Sometimes a whole family can feel left out. As the Israelites wandered through the wilderness, fathers would pass their “name” to their sons. The name meant they were part of God’s covenant with Abraham and would someday own a piece of the Promised Land. (That’s why Numbers is such an important book.) Zelophehad had five daughters but no sons. When he died, the girls received nothing.

Instead of bickering, the five daughters worked together. They bravely stood before Moses and explained their situation. “Since he had no son, give us property among our father’s brothers” (Numbers 27:4). God told Moses to honor the daughters’ request and added new rules to help families keep their share of the Promised Land from generation to generation.

Siblings to the Rescue!

Speaking of Moses, his brother and sister had a huge impact on his life. When Pharaoh’s daughter found a child floating in the river, Miriam was watching. She offered to find a Hebrew woman (her mother) who could take care of the baby (her little brother). Growing up in his family home, Moses heard about the true God and His plan for the Israelites, even if the child didn’t yet understand his role in that story.

Eventually, God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses was afraid and tried to convince God to “send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). He was not an eloquent speaker. How could he convince the people, let alone Pharaoh, to listen? God called on Moses’ brother, Aaron, to help. Together, the brothers brought God’s message to Pharaoh and freed the Israelites.

When you stumble into an unfair situation, it’s tempting to believe that your parents don’t love you as much as your siblings. But love, especially God’s love, doesn’t work like that. God’s love is infinite and equal. He blesses people with different gifts and opportunities, but nobody is “more special” to God than anyone else. Parents try to love their children in the same way.

If everybody is loved equally, there’s no sense getting angry over little “stuff” or chores or the mean things your sister said. Life is too short to let a fight get in the way of your relationship with your siblings. Instead follow this advice from Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”

This story originally appeared in Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Find out more about this award-winning children’s magazine by clicking here.

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