SPF 252: Raising Arrows: Addressing Sibling Conflict

What causes fights and quarrels among you? James asks. Maybe you have asked that same question to your children. But if our homes are green houses, if they are training ground for our children, if the instruction we give is fodder for their heart and mind where emotions and actions are made, isn’t it a grand opportunity to address conflict in a biblical manner? Today I am sharing four ways we can prove faithful in teaching our children about conflict with one another.

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Sibling Fights and Quarrels

Our children are born sinful and they do not need any help learning how to start conflict, however they are not born knowing how to deal with conflict in a godly way.

So when we see conflict, we see sin, but are we seeing the duty that lies before us? They hard work of training our children to mortify the flesh and learn how to reconcile, forgive, be forgiven, extend grace, and receive it with thanksgiving?

Four Ways to Help Our Children When Conflict and Quarrels Arise

NO. 1: Use the Word to teach about conflict.

James 4 is a passage I quote a lot when quarreling breaks out. It just calls out heart motives so plainly and gives practical instructions on living with one another.

James 4 exposes the root issue of fighting and quarreling – a friendship with the world. It’s a worldly heart set on personal, covetous desires and passions.

To have a worldly heart, or a heart bent on temporary desires and pleasures in this world, is to be at enmity with God. We can see society unravel when people are at enmity with God, and we can see it in our homes. This passage reminds us that if we are fighting and quarreling, we need to assess the situation – are we just thinking about ourselves and what we want? Are we being humble and thinking of how God wants us to live and treat our neighbor?

NO. 2: Teach our children what it says about how we treat one another

1 John 3

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:19-21

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Matthew 22

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

NO. 3 Teach them what to do when they quarrel and fight

One of the passages we can teach our children that talks about reconciliation is

Matthew 18

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Scripture tells us to go to our brother first. When there is conflict, teach them to go to each other, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, and be ready to ask for forgiveness or to forgive, remember how Christ has forgiven us and what he asks of us – to forgive one another.

NO. 4 Teach your kids to overlook an offense, meaning that they wouldn’t be easy to offend

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Charles Spurgeon advice:

It is a splendid thing if you will not be offended. Nothing makes a man feel so small as when you accept what he intended for an insult as if it were a compliment, and thank him for it. Can you master yourself to that point? Remember, when you have conquered yourself you have conquered the world. You have overcome everybody when you have so fully overcome your own spirit that you remain content with that which naturally would excite your wrath.

If you must be offended, dear brother, do not exaggerate an offence. If there must be something wrong, let it be as little as you can. “Also take no heed,” says Solomon, “unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee.” Something you have done may irritate a servant, and he may make remarks which are unbecoming and impertinent. Don’t hear what he is muttering. Keep out of hearing. No, dear friends, as you have to forgive one another, do not take offense, and when offense is given do not exaggerate it, and, if you can, do not even observe it.


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