Don’t push your brother

When I had my middle son, I told my firstborn that the baby was his. That his daddy and I had gotten him a lifelong friend, and to take care of him. We did the same with my 2nd after we had our 3rd, “This is your baby. Be good to him.” What I imagined was two helpful older boys, proud and protective of their babies, and two grateful younger boys, thankful for their big brothers. What I did not imagine was my living room resembling WWE’s Monday Night Raw, with my oldest son frog splashing my middle, the middle son clotheslining the baby, and the baby going all Mankind and trying to rip hair out of both of his brother’s heads with his teeth.

Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little… This isn’t EVERY day. But I am *constantly* acting as referee, usually with the mandate, “Don’t push your brother!

There are a couple of reasons kids push each other: They want what the other has or the other kid is being annoying.

Now, as we get older, we learn we can’t literally push people who are being annoying, so we figure out how to do it using shame, ostracizing, or coming over the top with verbal assault.

On top of being a mom to young boys, I am also a peer and youth leader, which means I walk around with a constant

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over my head. Recently, there was an issue over an overtly offensive piece of clothing one of our youth wore. I’m not talking offensive to my personal tastes, but offensive to society. I went to my leader with steam coming out of my ears, and she very kindly said unless one of our students expressed distress, I needed to take my feelings to God.

You could hear the record scratch in my head. Why? Why would this person not be pulled aside and told that though we mean “come as you are” we don’t mean come and be obnoxious or objectionable.

“You need to be still.” The words boomed through the current of my thoughts like I was in a Charlton Heston movie. “Be still… what good is that going to do?” I thought. Then I was directed back to a conversation I had with my 2 and 4 year old, where I told them that if one of their brothers is doing something that bothers them, come get me.

I sighed, knowing exactly why I tell them this. It’s because their “punishment” of their brother’s behavior isn’t always fair, and sometimes the behavior isn’t even worthy of punishment. It’s because I can direct behavior through love and encouragement (and occasional bribery) instead of coming over the top with just force.

Most of the major players in the bible had some severe character flaws which resulted in terrible behavior. Most of us know the story in Acts 9, where Saul travels do Damascus and becomes filled with the Holy Spirit and takes on the name Paul. But do you remember the conversation Ananias had with God over meeting Saul? It goes like this:

“The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:11-16)

Imagine with me if Ananias after this conversation treated Saul with the contempt we’re tempted to treat each other with? What if when Saul had arrived in Damascus, Ananias had said to him, “You have done wicked, terrible things. What is wrong with you? Why should the very people you have persecuted now receive and have mercy on you?” What effect would this have had on the spread of the gospel? But because Ananias trusted in God’s power and protection, and experienced His transformative love firsthand he obeyed, and as a result, my life is transformed by that same Jesus who walked in a land 7,600 miles away 2,000 years ago.

So be still and know that He is God. Take your concerns to Him believing He knows more about the situation than you and has tools that you don’t have access to. And don’t push your brother.

Picture by Tobias Mrzyk, ReSplash

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