Almost a year ago, Anna Sofia and I posted an article by our dear friend Jamie Billings, about the beautiful testimony of her relationship with her brother. From the beginning, we were inspired by the unusually close relationship she had with her brother, Michael, to cherish and appreciate our own brothers more.
Jamie just lost her only brother in a tragic car accident.
The Lord, according to His sovereign plan, took 19-year-old Michael Billings home November 4, 2007. Michael is in a better place, but the Billings family has just lost their precious only son. Please pray for Jamie and her whole family.
And sisters, please, please heed the words of Jamie Billings, which we are re-posting today. Make the most of your time with the precious brothers the Lord has given you. It could be your last day with them.
Am I My Brother’s Confidant?
By Jamie Billings
Sibling rivalry, according to the Bible, has plagued the family and been a source of tension and conflict from the very beginning. As we look over the pages of Scripture, it is not difficult to see where the root of this ungodliness springs. Most all sibling rivalry seems to have its foundation in jealousy, pride, selfishness, self-seeking ambition, and a lack of love.
One can easily see that Cain was jealous of Abel (Gen. 4: 2-16), and that Joseph’s brothers were unloving, as they were only interested in their own portion in life. Joseph in return was unkind and not understanding of their feelings. Jacob also had a severe selfish, covetous, and unloving spirit in his actions toward Esau (Gen. 25:29-34). Miriam and Aaron’s pride led to contention between themselves and Moses. Numbers 12:2 tells us, “And they said, Hath God indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?” Or in other words, they demand equal rights and status with him. Given its repetitive portrayal in Scripture, the Lord must certainly hold this subject of sibling relationships to be of the utmost importance for our instruction.
Over and over again these Biblical narratives on sibling rivalry are presented, showing us that jealousy, pride, selfishness, self-seeking ambition, ungodly competitiveness and a lack of love lead to anger, resentment, and hatred. We then see that this sin, when not dealt with, will ultimately lead to a life of sorrow, bitterness, and in the end, destruction.
My point is simple: as we read these stories, we must bear in mind that they are important and that they have been divinely placed in Holy Scripture for our instruction (2 Tim. 3:16). By them our Lord teaches us that discord stems from sin in our hearts, and only when we root out that sin, can our relationships begin to heal. We must constantly compare and contrast these great men and women of old with our own relationships, learn from their examples, implement changes as necessary, and above all, learn to love even when it is hard. Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” All of these well known examples can be applied to relationships between either or both genders.
I would particularly like to address the brother-sister relationship, more specifically, one in which the sister is the somewhat older sibling, as in my own case.
It seems that as I reflect upon my own childhood, that I had a double-dose of all the afore-mentioned negative tendencies that lead toward dissension, particularly pride and self-centeredness. I felt that it was my job to protect my younger brother, and he, as the younger sibling, should heed my advice and respect my judgment unquestioningly. After all, I thought I was the smarter and more mature of the two of us. When presented with a task or problem, I would have already logically evaluated a given situation and sensibly come to the only correct solution. So, why would I need his input? I am sure one can see how this could stress any relationship, especially given the fact that my brother and I are only 18 months apart. You see, I now realize that I was unconsciously striving for a position of what one might call dominance within our relationship. I was continually discouraged because my brother, even as a young boy, possessed the inborn desire be a leader, unpolished though it was. I became inwardly angry and resentful, as I was denied that which I thought was owed to me. This led me down the path of bitterness toward my brother and created a heaviness in my soul. I had unintentionally sacrificed our relationship upon the alter of my own selfishness and pride, and consequently devastated our natural camaraderie, affection, and fidelity. It is no wonder that we grew apart, only tolerant of each other’s existence.
As I think back, I wonder if the heaviness I felt during those early years may well have been attributed to the Holy Spirit, not only convicting me of my selfishness and desire to be esteemed by my younger brother, but also, the cultivating of my heart for future lessons. One of the tools our sovereign Lord used to soften my bitter and hardened heart was this seemingly insubstantial excerpt from Noelle Goforth’s book, Daughters of Destiny. It is entitled, “The Brother’s Confidant.”
A good sister’s love always holds a cherished place in the grateful memory of the brother! Many men have found a sister’s love their ready and cheering resource. His confidence is set in her counsel and he is satisfied with the assurance that it will be uprightly and considerately given. How intimate is the friendship of such a sister! What a reliance for warning, excitement, and sympathy has each secured in each! How many are the brothers to whom, when thrown into circumstances of temptation, the thought of a sister’s love has been a constant, and holy presence, rebuking every wayward thought!
The relation of brothers and sisters forms another important element in the happy influences on the home. A boisterous or a selfish boy may try to domineer over the weaker or more dependent girl, but generally the latter exerts a softening, sweetening charm, the brother animates and heartens; the sister mollifies, tames, refines. The vine-tree and its sustaining elm are the emblems of such a relation – and by such agencies our “sons may become like plants grown up in youth, and our daughters like cornerstones polished after similitude of a temple.”
Sisters scarcely know the influence they have over their brothers. A young man once testified that the greatest proof to the truth of Christian religion was his sister’s life.
At first I was cynical. All of that flowery language seemed silly and the ideas they conveyed abstract. Me…my brother’s confidant? The thought, though still abstract, took root in my mind and I longed for that kind of a relationship. Could I really ever have any influence over my brother? I was filled with wonder and a sense of new responsibility as I read, “Sisters scarcely know the influence they have over their brothers.” As I reflected upon what I had read, my thoughts turned inward. Had I been influencing my brother for good? Would he think of me in time to come as a “ready and cheering resource,” or as a “constant, and holy presence?” But most importantly, could my brother see the “truth of Christian religion” in my life? As I pondered these things, I knew that I fell desperately short. I also knew that this was the kind of sister that I desired to be, and I purposed to change. Philippians 2:3 affirms, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in the lowliness of mind let each esteem other better then themselves.” I learned that trying in strife never gets us anywhere in life. I made a conscious effort to put away my self-centeredness and purposed to try to look at things from my brother’s point of view, to ask his opinion, and to try to do some things his way and not just my own. I began encouraging my brother to be the leader and I refocused my efforts into supporting him in that role. I purposed to be open with him, to be there if he needed a friend to talk to, and to serve him by helping him pursue and accomplish his goals. It was really amazing. I felt like the weight had lifted from my shoulders and a fog from my eyes. Of course, our relationship did not change overnight, but I am very happy to say that it did change. Matthew 23:12 tells us, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
My brother and I are now the best of friends and each the other’s most trusted confidant. As I have watched my brother grow into such a strong and godly young man, and as God has blessed him with wisdom that surpasses his age, it is hard to even think of him as being younger. He has become to me the best of counselors and truest of friends.
I am so happy that God revealed to me the folly of my willfulness and foolish pride. My hope is that these experiences will equip me to be the virtuous wife scripture has called me to be. Dear ones, we are not always going to agree with our husbands… and they are not always going to have perfect consideration for our feelings, and yet God has called us to reverence and obedience, with “chaste conversation coupled with fear.” It is so important for us to learn now how to humble ourselves, put away our pride, and to learn to defuse a situation before it can escalate. Proverbs 13: 10 teaches us that, “Only by pride cometh contention.” How many marriages would be happier and more God-honoring if we all could simply embrace the above stated Philippians 2:3? Dear ladies, if we do not lay our pride and willfulness at the foot of the cross while we are still young, we may well carry them into our marriages. God has given us our brothers for a reason and yes, they can at times be a difficult trial, but God knows this and it is He who has willed it so. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 which proclaims, “For I know the plans I have for you; declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” May we always be grateful for our brothers and bear in mind that in many ways, these early years are the God ordained and orchestrated training grounds for our future happiness.
But this, ladies, is not the only glorious blessing that is to be gained! We as sisters can return this favor to our brothers by helping to affirm and prepare them for their future roles as leaders, and heads of their own households. When we treat our brothers like men, it can only encourage them to maturity in Christ. And you, my reader, may well be the tool that God has ordained to inspire your brother to become the man that God has created and called him to be. We need to always remember that “all things work together for good, to them who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Jamie Kathleen Billings is the daughter of Dr. & Mrs. Michael Billings. She has been Home Educated and is currently serving her family while training to be a “keeper at home.”