This morning Hood #8 was baptized in front of our friends and family. I was standing there with all our kids in a row, hardly a row – more like a tumble of brothers and sisters. I got to thinking about what are the things that I want our kids to have on their hearts for each other as they grow up.
In our house I cannot tell you how often we say: “You are your brothers keeper” to our kids. It is something that is important to us. We want our kids to grow up being better than friends… But just what do we mean by “You are your brother’s keeper”
If you consider how you feel when you owe someone a debt. Whenever you see them you are reminded “Ooh, I owe him.” It is top of our minds. Now Paul is calling us to owe the debt of love, whenever we see them we are to react in a loving way. It really defines caring beyond the expected duty and it needs to be top of our minds.
When we talk about the Golden Rule “loving one another as we love ourselves” we tend to think of it as some sort of balance-scale. “As he does, so I will do;” “If they do this for me today, then tomorrow I will do that for them;” and so on. We tend to be caught in a culture of doing the bare minimum, doing just what we have to do without being caught out or just enough without looking too bad. But Jesus was expecting more from us than a “tit-for-tat” Golden Rule.
Jesus expects us to love one another as He loved us. Now that raises the goal posts somewhat!!! Way above obligation, way above duty. We are called to love in a sacrificial way – giving without being asked to, helping before you are asked for help. Basically, before your brother knows that he needs you, you need to be there for him.
It is not a list of requirements that we are hoping they will achieve before they leave home but it is rather an attitude of the heart that they are to be there for each other, serve each other, stand by each other and protect each other. Now this might seem far too idealistic a thing to be teaching our kids but we want them to know that serving beyond the call of duty is a requirement of brotherly love.
So how do we achieve this: Here are se7en routine things we have going in our house:
- We encourage them to compliment each other, thank each other, be polite to each other.
- We praise any behavior that mimics what we are trying to achieve.
- We expect them to be joyful on their siblings behalf. For instance when their sibling gets a gift or reward that they haven’t received themselves.
- We like them to serve their siblings, not just do a task but do it in a way that that sibling would like the task done.
- They are encouraged to offer to help, I want to hear “How can I help you” floating around my house.
- We expect them to share when they get something that the others do not have. To share that candy treat, for example, and they do this.
- We want them help each other and to feel free to ask each other for help when they need it.
Now I know that, just like the neighbor in The Parable of the Good Samaritan, there is more to being a biblical brother than having the same parents. But this morning seeing all our kids together in one spot, which one doesn’t often see, I was thinking about brothers within the immediate family and their responsibility to each other. And not just brothers – but sisters too!!!
So often we get asked what do we do about sibling rivalry and how we deal with it, and believe me we are no where near squabble free. But to be honest we are far more concerned with focusing on the positive and teaching them to be their brother’s keepers.
That’s it. Just a thought for the week and I hope you have a good one.
This Post is part of The Thirty Minute Mom’s Challenge at Steady Mom.