Recently I was doing what might be rightfully considered a “dumb” thing: I was watching a secular television program. Not that all secular television programs are bad, mind you. But this one took a turn for the worse, and I should have known about it well before I actually turned off the television set. The show was a 1950s or so black and white movie about an inheritance that a man wanted to get for himself. However, he was going about it in the wrong way. He wanted to “climb the ladder” in terms of birthright, and his idea was, if he could kill off the other heirs, then he would end up being first in the end.
In fact, history is full of instances where siblings have actually killed their older brothers, for example, in an attempt to gain, for example, a kingly throne. The Bible records a number of instances like these. One of them is when one of Gideon’s sons, Abimelech, killed his 70 brothers, for we read in Judges 9:5, “And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, [being] threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.” (Jerubbaal and Gideon in this passage are the same person.)
What makes a person do things like this? And what is the root of actions like these? How can it be that a person can be so crass as to actually kill his very own brothers? Well, we probably need to dig very deep. And if we dug deep enough, we might find some problems in the family that were not corrected and led to very competitive behavior between the siblings. Of course, Abimelech was wrong. But was he provoked by his other brothers into feeling inferior? How were “fights” handled when he was growing up? You know, problems like these often start ten, twenty, or thirty years before the actual “fruit” shows (the killing, that is).
And again, if Gideon had more than 70 children (and in fact we can count 72 in this passage) then he certainly had more than one wife. From scripture we see that God’s design for a man is one wife – not two or more. The fruit of polygamy is always competitive behavior, because the women are always competing with one another for the affection of the husband, who is their “bread and meat”. For especially in polygamous societies, without the husband, they have no dignity, and if they are given up by their husbands, as can happen, then they are rejected within that society. This type of thinking of course leads not only to competition among the women, but spreads a “fragrance” of sorts within the entire family, leaving the siblings competing with one another. How sad when we disobey the Lord.
King David took many wives (at least seven). The “fruit” of that was that his son Solomon took 300 wives! And 700 concubines! Was the fruit peace, joy, and love, as a result of this? Not! For we read, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, [that] his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:4) Even among king David’s family before this time, there was “competition unto death” among David’s sons. You may remember the story of Absalom, who tried to take the throne of his own father. There was also Adonijah who tried to take the throne from Solomon. And what about the story of Joseph’s brothers who sought to kill him? We could go on!
What then is the solution for all of this? Well, ultimately, we are all responsible for what we do and we will all stand before God’s judgment seat one day to give an account for the things that we have done, whether good, or evil. While our past has had an impact on what we have become, yet through Christ we have the possibility of being entirely freed from the enemy’s grip on us, so that we may serve Christ fully. In fact, the whole problem of competition is solved by trusting Christ as Lord and Savior, for he gives us dignity – the dignity we are trying to get through competition.
Do you find that you are of a competitive spirit, one that has anger towards a brother or a sister? Is there impurity in your heart that desires to take revenge of some sort? Do you desire to be “above” your other siblings? First, BE FREED from your siblings by forgiving them for any wrongs that they have done to you. Forgive your parents, and forgive yourself for things that they, or you, may have done to lead you into your present set of circumstances. Next, be FAITH FILLED, for “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God!” (Hebrews 11:6). ACCEPT that God is sovereign and is able to work through your present set of circumstances not only for the good, but for the better!
BELIEVE the word of God, and do not doubt God when he says, in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” Okay, starting to feel a little better now? Good! Now, PRESS ON, and REALIZE that your victory is in TRUSTING Christ for your every need, your every breath, and for everything that you will ever do in life. You must RELINQUISH any necessary dependency on man, and put your trust ENTIRELY in Jesus Christ!
Now you are on the road to success. But be warned! You may find yourself slipping back into old ways if you are not careful to keep on making Christ your “all and all.”
Oh, if only Abimelech, or Adonijah, or Absalom, or Joseph’s brothers knew the things that you know today … they could have done so much better!
God bless you as you consider these things today.