There is an old Igbo proverb that states “when two brothers fight, strangers always reap the harvest.” Conflict and division never bear good fruit for those who are involved. Whether it is in a family, a tribe or even a nation, division always brings sorrow, heartache and ultimately the downfall of those involved. Jesus said it this way, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
I grew up in a home with four older brothers. There were times that our struggles and differences must have caused a great deal of heartache and pain for my parents, but we were pretty typical boys. We wrestled and fought and argued, but there was also a deep love that tied us all together. There may have been times that we were in conflict with one another, but if an outsider where ever to threaten our home or family, the bond that tied us together was unbreakable.
In Genesis 25-27 we can see how division in a family can have negative consequences that last for generations. In the story of Jacob and Esau we see how Jacob extorts the birthright from his brother Esau and later steals his birthright by deceiving his father. The consequences of these actions lasted for generations. Stop and consider some of the challenges these actions had for generations:
- The favoritism showed by the parents Isaac and Rebekah contributed to the problems between the sons.
- There was conflict between Jacob and Esau for decades. At one point Esau event wanted to see his brother dead.
- Two nations were born from these brothers (Israel & Edom) and the nations hated one another. At one time in history Edom even sided with Israel’s enemies in an attempt to destroy them.
In the New Testament church the apostle Paul often warned of the danger that division would bring, “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another and that there be no divisions among you, but that be perfectly united in mind and thought” (I Corinthians 1:10).
While there are all kinds of negative consequences when there is division in a family, there are so many wonderful things that come when people are united and work together. This is one of the blessings we find in religions unity – it brings people together for a common good.
In Genesis 11 we find the descendants of Noah had settled in the land of Shinar. While God was not pleased with their selfish ambition to make a name for themselves there are some very important lessons we find in this chapter of the Bible. “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, The people are one, speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then NOTHING they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). Even though they were engaged in an activity that was not pleasing to God, we see the power of unity – NOTHING was impossible for them. The question we all need to ask ourselves is which is better division, hatred and bitterness, or unity, peace and prosperity?