A brownie can cause people to do crazy things. In the scope of history, who knows how many conflicts escalated over a fight for the last brownie. The Bay of Pigs. The Cold War. No one really knows for sure.
Even in biblical times food caused tension between people, including brothers. Jacob and Esau bargained over lentil stew, and eventually Esau sold his birthright over it. A conflict over stew is hard to fathom. If Jacob had the last fudge brownie, then maybe I could understand.
You can see how much more clearly this would read:
Once after Jacob had baked some brownies, Esau came in from the field, famished. He took one whiff and said to Jacob, “Betty Crocker?”
“No,” replied Jacob. “Duncan Hines.”
“Double Fudge. Only one left.”
“Quick,” begged Esau, “Let me have that last brownie.”
Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
So Esau swore an oath to him. He ate the brownie and drank some milk, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
Sibling rivalry can be traced back to Cain and Abel, and it doesn’t take a CSI agent to figure out how that fight ended. The first brotherhood of all time ended in a murder and an ominous beginning for family relationships. One would hope that the first murder must have been motivated by some grand ideology, but even the Candy Man would have trouble sugarcoating this one. God favored Abel’s meat offering over Cain’s Grains, and Cain flipped his lid.
When you read that morbid record, it chills the bones to think that the first sibling fight was over something so insignificant. I could understand an argument over land or treasure, but food? This does not bode well for family gatherings where one member feels compelled to bring the lima bean casserole.
Our kids fight over the strangest things, from ants to toothpaste caps. Since ancient times, people have always found things worth fighting for, no matter how mundane. I have personally witnessed near-maulings at bargain basement sales. Sometimes there is just no talking common sense into people, no matter how hard we try.
God tried to reason with Cain.
…But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Cain listened to the pep talk and then promptly left to kill his brother. That went well. Dave and I have often held family meetings and given our children sage advice that will improve their lives forever. Immediately following the family meeting, we always follow the same agenda :
- Pat ourselves on back.
- Feel great about our parenting skills.
- Watch as kids walk away and repeat very actions we just told them not to do.
- Scrape egos off floor.
One day our kids were fighting over who should get the last macaroon. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I popped the treat in my mouth, thereby settling the argument in a mature manner. The kids sat in shock for a moment, with mouths agape like a row of snoring grandfathers, and then they went off to play together as though nothing had happened.
The one silver lining to our kids fighting is that I get a glimpse at how much it breaks God’s heart when His grownup children fight. The reasons are never much better than “lentil stew.” But at least kids know how to let it go. Even though our kids fight with each other, they drop it faster than I can say “family meeting.”
Adults, on the other hand, let grievances fester like an ugly boil. We know that sin is crouching at the door, and we put out the welcome mat. But God is watching as a concerned parent, and He desires His children to walk in love. Nothing should get in the way of loving our neighbor. Not lentil stew, and as hard as it is to believe, not even the last brownie.