The Scriptures provide us with the first account of sibling
rivalry. The rivalry between Cain and Abel
(the sons of Adam and Eve)
was one of the ultimate examples of sibling rivalry.
Cain was angry and jealous and murdered his own brother.
Jealousy can lead to some angry and harmful feelings.
Many, if not all, cases of birth-family
abuse can be traced back
to jealousy, selfishness, parental partiality
(real or perceived), or envy in the abuser’s heart.
We know that in the real world sibling rivalry exists,
but we are often blindsided by it because
it is the last thing we would expect
from a family member.
Brothers and sisters argue and fight each other,
lie and trick each other,
and generally treat each other horribly at times.
It never feels good...
in fact, it is very painful to be the target...
a whipping post for siblings or anyone else.
It can be very painful being on the receiving end
of another person’s verbal assaults.
Words laced with poison can be just as emotionally
and/or spiritually excruciating as physical blows,
and those that hurl words as a weapon
are often quite skilled at using them.
My siblings seem to constantly assume
I am the rightful catch-all for
anger, criticism, and judgment.
To my siblings, it seems that the name “Carole”
is synonymous with “whipping post”.
Apparently, they do not realize that their words and deeds
have an impending doom.
They are blinded by the god of this world
(2 Cor. 4:3–4),
bound in darkness (Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18),
and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Tim. 2:25–26).
The biggest bullies are often
toxic family members.
And bullying is never OK.
We tend to think of bullying as something that happens
in the schoolyard amongst kids
who are being mean and abusive to one another.
However, as incredible as it might seem,
verbal abuse and emotional abuse
through power, control, domination,
subjugation, and relentless
are the weapons of choice for
some family members
to gain control over others.
There are families who have scapegoated a loved one
from childhood, into and including adulthood.
One’s family of origin can target one member for
accusations, blame, criticism, and ostracism.
They belittle, excommunicate, and slander,
in an attempt to assassinate another’s character.
Scapegoating is often a way for
families to hide problems
that they cannot face.
At times the scapegoat is targeted by the sibling
who was always the bully of the family.
In that way, the less favored sibling
becomes the repository
of everything that is wrong in the family.
It’s sometimes right to defend your reputation
before those who have slandered you.
However, it is possible, when the scapegoat argues
and pleads their innocence before the family…
they can sometimes find themselves
further blamed and persecuted.
No one has the right to assault who we are as a person.
Sadly, some people just won’t be happy
until they’ve pushed our self-esteem to the ground
and stomped on it.
It takes a great deal of courage to stand up
to your enemies, but just as much to stand up
to your family.
Sometimes bullying comes from the most
Be cognizant of how the people closest to you
treat you, and look out for the
subtle jabs they throw.