“What do you want to do now?” I asked my friend Jenna, who’d come over to my house to play.
“Do you want to play a board game?” Jenna asked.
“Sure, that sounds like fun. The games are in my closet. If you want to pick one out, I’m going to fix a snack for us.”
Jenna headed upstairs to my bedroom, and I went into the kitchen. I washed and cut up some strawberries. I was almost done when Jenna came in.
“Did you choose a game?” I asked.
“Yep, and I can’t wait to play it, but those strawberries look so good. Is it OK if we eat our snack first?”
I smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
Jenna and I laughed and talked while we ate strawberries dipped in vanilla yogurt. When we were done, we headed up to my room to play the board game Jenna had chosen.
When I grabbed the game from my dresser, I noticed that one of my trophies was on the floor. I picked it up and saw that it was broken.
I knew right away that my little brother, Timmy, had been playing in my room. I felt angry that he’d been in my room without asking—and worse still, he’d broken one of my special belongings.
“Timmy, you get in here right now!” I yelled.
When my brother appeared in the doorway, I said, “How dare you come in my room without my permission! And look what you did! You broke my favorite trophy!”
Timmy’s eyes grew wide. “Diane, I haven’t been in your room today.”
“Of course you have,” I snapped. “You make me so angry. Why don’t you just stay out of my room?”
“But, Diane, I really haven’t been playing in your room,” Timmy insisted.
“I don’t believe you,” I said.
“Umm, Diane?” Jenna said quietly. “I think I might have accidentally broken your trophy. When I set the game down on your dresser, I thought I heard a noise, but I didn’t see anything, so I just came downstairs.”
“You broke it?”
Jenna nodded sadly. “I think so. I’m really sorry, Diane. It was an accident.”
“It’s OK, Jenna. I know you didn’t mean to.” I hugged my friend to show her that I wasn’t angry with her.
Timmy folded his arms across his chest. “Hey, that isn’t fair! How come you’re not going to yell at Jenna like you yelled at me?”
“Because she’s my friend,” I said.
“But I’m your brother, and you know what Jesus says about loving your brother.”
“Just get out of my room,” I retorted. “Jenna and I are trying to play a game.”
Timmy left, and I started to set up the game board. But when I asked Jenna if she was ready to play, she muttered, “Just a minute.”
I looked at her, and she was sitting on my bed, reading my Bible.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
She shrugged. “I’m reading what Jesus says about loving your brother.”
I rolled my eyes. “When they say ‘brother’ in the Bible, it doesn’t always mean your actual brother that’s in your family. Sometimes it means a fellow Christian, like a brother or sister in Christ.”
“Well, I know Timmy accepted Jesus a few years ago, so that makes him your real brother and your brother in Christ,” Jenna said.
I sighed. “It doesn’t matter anyway. He’s gone, so now we can play the game.”
“But, Diane, look at what it says here in 1 John 4:21: ‘Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.’”
I sighed again. “I do love Timmy. But sometimes he just really bugs me.”
“I don’t want to make you mad, Diane, but the way you treated him wasn’t very loving. You were so angry at him when you thought he broke your trophy, but you forgave me right away. It doesn’t seem fair to treat a friend so much better than a family member.”
I nodded. I didn’t want to admit it, but Jenna was right. The way I’d talked to Timmy wasn’t the way God would have wanted me to treat my brother. I owed Timmy an apology.
“Hey, Jenna, I need to talk to my brother. Can you wait here for a minute?”
I went into Timmy’s room and said, “I’m sorry, Timmy, for the way I yelled at you. It wasn’t fair to get so angry with you and then forgive Jenna right away.”
Timmy smiled. “It’s OK, big sister. I forgive you.”
“And you were right—the Bible does say that we have to love our brothers and sisters. So from now on I’m going to try to treat you the way I would treat one of my friends. If I wouldn’t say it to Jenna, I’m not going to say it to you either.”
Timmy’s smile got bigger. “Wow, that’s a big change!”
I nodded. “Yes, a really big change. And I’m going to need a lot of help with it.”
“I’ll pray for you,” Timmy said.
I put my arm around him. “I’d like that, little brother.”
Timmy grinned. “Don’t you mean ‘little friend’?”
I grinned back. “With Jesus’ help, I sure do.”
Written by Diane Stark
Illustrated by Laura Park