My brother and I grew up in what might be called a turbulent family situation. Because there were only the two of us, we tended to support each other. We had a very close bond and Peter was always there for me, even though he was the younger one.
As we grew up we started to develop our own independence, branching out with different friends and associates. When we started our careers, Peter went his way and I went my way. The result was that the close bond we had earlier on in our lives began to diminish. I found that Peter always had plenty and everything went well for him, whilst I struggled. When I became a Christian, the gap just widened further. Over time, I began feeling anger and jealousy towards my brother and our relationship soured. Peter had wronged me heaps of times and no doubt I had wronged him too, but things just piled up into a mountain. I actually now despised my brother. The bond of our childhood was surely broken beyond repair?
One day he and his family left New Zealand for the island miles away. This was it! No more brother there to show me up as being unsuccessful. Now I had Mum and Dad to myself and Peter was far, far away. As the years started to roll by, I felt very smug with the little contact I had with him. I didn’t care that I enjoyed hanging on to my anger and jealousy – they were my very comfortable crutch that I leant on in my self-pity!
I was enjoying life until one Sunday morning at church a visiting pastor brought a message on loving your brother. “No! Not me! Never!” I said to myself as I pondered on the past injustice done to me.
Never say never! The Holy Spirit touched me in a real way and the Lord said, “what are you going to do?”
“How can I do anything?” I replied. It was then that I first considered writing my brother a letter. I did nothing for days until I was prompted again. It was so hard. What would I write? Where would I start? Amazingly God spoke and said, “the truth, no recourse.”
I must admit I did not write that night, I just prayed over the next few days before finally coming back to the letter. I acknowledged my fault and asked for his forgiveness. I finished the letter off by telling him that I loved him and then I just wept. Although it was not easy writing the letter, I felt a heavy weight lift of me. I was released.
I posted the letter next day and wondered what the response would be. I didn’t expect a reply. Though if there was a reply, I expected rejection.
Weeks went by and then one day, I had a reply. As I read the letter, I just broke down thanking God for my brother. He said he had forgiven me and asked that we might start anew. The letter ended with him telling me he loved me.
Since then, we have had great times together. I learnt that Peter had become a Christian and God blessed our time, which was so rich. I praised God for his healing power: the bond that had been broken was now fully restored and I was so proud of Peter (I still am). We were how God had planned it to be! Brothers at peace with each other!
As we left the last time we visited, God prompted me to tell Peter that if I had the choice of all the brothers in the world, I would choose him. I told him I loved him and missed him. We parted with tears in our eyes. I did not know at that time why God prompted me to express this, but later on I learned why: six weeks later, God called Peter home suddenly (that is another story).
In my ministry, I hear a lot about siblings at war with each other. Often it is about money, like a cancerous growth crippling thinking, ministry and relationships. Sometimes a small seed of wrong has been watered until it becomes a mountain. My heart aches when I hear it. You need to address the problem/s. Without addressing it, your ministry and walk with God will suffer. It is your responsibility before God to put it right. You cannot control the response of another, but you can put your hand out seeking and giving forgiveness.
Consider Matthew 6:12: “forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors” and 1 John 4:20-21: "Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also."
So, what are you going to do?
Roland Peapell is an Elder at Napier Baptist Church who enjoys writing from life experiences to help others in their Christian walk.
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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.