Q: My brother rebelled against our parents and against God as a teenager. He's in his 50s now and has really messed up his life, but he won't even talk with me about it. Why do two people from the same family take such different paths? -- Mrs. K.T.
A: I've seen this happen in other families, and I wish I had an answer to it, but I don't, not fully. Adam and Eve probably asked themselves the same question after their rebellious son Cain murdered his spiritually-minded brother, Abel (see Genesis 4:1-16).
But I do know this: Your brother alone is responsible for the path he's taken. He can't blame your parents (although they weren't perfect); neither can he blame you or anyone else. Nor can he blame God for the way he is (as some do). Instead, he made a conscious decision to reject your parents' values, and he must bear the consequences. The Bible solemnly warns, "The soul who sins is the one who will die. ... The wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him" (Ezekiel 18:20).
Sadly, your brother's life is a tragic illustration of the Bible's truth that we reap what we sow in life. God loves us, and He doesn't want us to destroy our lives -- which is why He's told us how to live. But when we turn our backs on Him and go our own way, we pay a heavy price in instability and heartache. The Bible's words are true: "The way of the unfaithful is hard" (Proverbs 13:15).
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Pray for your brother, that God will break through his pride and rebellion, and help him face his need to repent and give his life to Christ. Seeds planted in childhood may take years to grow -- but by God's grace, they still can.
Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 877-2-GRAHAM, or visit the website for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.