God puts siblings together for a purpose. One is to create tension. Look at the combinations: Mary and Martha, Peter and Andrew, James and John, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau. Differences create tension. As a friend says, “Tension doesn’t mean something is wrong. It means something is happening.”


It’s all about relationships. Look at the Great Commandment: “Love God, love one another.” The most important relationships are family, and many have unresolved conflict. Blame God for the tension. We need to ask what is happening rather than fight. Jacob and Esau finally resolved their conflicts—but their children have not! Check out the Middle East and the one little piece of real estate in the center.


Tension between Cain and Abel ended tragically. It almost went that way with Jacob and Esau, but divine intervention helped to bring peace. The conflict between Mary and Martha didn’t escalate to murderous threats, but Martha made a brazen comment to the honored Guest. Mary managed to be at His feet rather than in His face, and she got the affirmation, while Martha, Martha got a stinging correction. The next dinner party showed that they had successfully dealt with their issues.


How about you? Do you live with unresolved conflict? Do you need to close the loop in any family relationships? What unfinished business might God hold you responsible to help heal? Maybe these questions can help in the process.


What is the cause of the tension in my relationships?

How is God wanting to use the tension?

How have I reacted to the tension?

Where have I shown pride and where have I demonstrated humility?

What is unresolved in my relationships with siblings and others?

What do I need to do to close the loop?

What qualities has God been working on through the tension?

Am I learning to walk toward tension, or do I still walk away from it?

What does tension do to me?


For a decade I have been thanking God for tension since coming to realize its value. It is productive in the lives of people who know it comes as a friend to be embraced rather than as an obstacle to avoid (James 1:2). I see it working good things in our young adult community and smile when it rises up, because it shows that God is at work. Where people learn to respond rightly, it always accomplishes something good. I have only seen three examples in ten years working with Communitas where stubborn reaction created a separation rather than a healing.


God’s highest goal for you is that you look like His Son (Rom. 8:29). That cannot be accomplished without pain and tension. Embrace it now by faith, knowing it is bringing the priceless gift of character (James 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5) and healing families—like yours!

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