Monday, October 27, 2008

Your Ministry: Loving His Family

Not long ago I was blessed to have run across an excellent Bible study that I am still pondering in my heart and sifting in my mind to this very day. We hear about many verses that talk about being managers of home and of the Proverbs 31 model but I was quite encouraged to learn about loving our husbands family. Did you know loving his family is a form of loving him?

Many jokes in mainstream culture poke fun at the 'in-laws' but in the Christian home we must take seriously the love that is given to his mother, his father and all his siblings (if any). There is no room for wordly flesh-like thinking when it comes to his family and we would all be the better for it once we truly understood and embraced this concept. Let us take a quick peek at the biblical mother/daughter in law model:

*Naomi and Ruth*

1. Ruth respected her mother-in-law---Loyalty and respect were expressed passionately from Ruth:"Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried." Ruth1:16-7

Ladies, when was the last time you said that to you mother-in-law??? When was the last time you heard that on a situation comedy show? Is your loyalty and respect level this high? Have you thanked her for her qualities and verbalized them to her?

2. Ruth was loyal to her mother-in-law---She pledged her undying devotion as she left her home and chose to cleave to Naomi..."The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."Ruth only wanted death to separate the two---imagine having a relationship like that---or even having a burning desire like that. Our hearts should be praying that our relationship has a heart like this with his mother. Loyalty also means not to put her down to your husband (or anyone else) or criticizing her. Once these things are said they cannot be taken back.

3. Ruth wanted to be with her mother-in-law---Naomi sent her daughter-in-laws away saying "Go return to your mothers house. Turn back and go your way." but Ruth stayed----she was a woman of action and stayed true to her word. Does this describe you?

4. Ruth served her mother-in-law--"Please let me go out to the field, and glean heads of grain." Ruth asks Naomi--and has to work to get the grain and then also lovingly prepare it afterwards. Helping, providing, assisting and working hard--these are attributes that we need to learn, cultivate and strive after. How can we serve our parents on both sides of the family? This surely is a great ministry that is worth our time and eternal.

5. Ruth took her mother-in-laws advice--in Ruth chapter 3 we see Naomi being counseled by her mother-in-law of the customs of her new land. Was she critical and prideful, unable to accept this new teaching? Not at all, instead she was humble and teachable. Are you humble and teachable when others are teaching you?

6. Ruth blessed her mother-in-law---Ruth married and a baby was born--and what did Ruth do? She placed the child in Naomi's arms sharing her happiness and new life. And then went on the the next step...

7. Ruth let her mother-in-law help her--"Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him." Ruth let Naomi help her with her new child, a tender sweet scene--do you see the great picture? Are you sharing your little blessings with their grandparents? Are you finding ways they can spend time together? Do you welcome a hand, no matter how out of practice it is? If you are a grandmother, are you offering to help?

And here we only talked about the mother-in-law relationship---not even mention the rest of his family! As always, many of these principles can apply for them as well. We really need to change the cycle of destruction that has taken over families today and one of the ways we can do this is by mending our relationships with extended family and going one step further--by loving and nurturing them with a spirit like the servant-hearted Ruth. Wouldn't you agree?

(Study by Elizabeth George, A Wife After God' s Own Heart)


Anonymous said...

Do you have advice for those of us who do not have a Christian MIL and one who tries to (because she was a career woman who even argues about such topics as keeping maiden names, etc) downgrade your decision to be a homekeeper? Criticizes the way you are raising the children, etc. etc. States over and over how you are not doing your share by not bringing in additional income. Not all of us were blessed to be raised in Christian homes and it is very difficult to forge a new path following Biblical principles.

Julieann said...

I adore my Mother In Law--she is an awesome lady and she had such a nice son--I marreid him:)

Great post!


Anonymous said...

You wouldn't believe how timely this post is. I am finding it extremely difficult to get along with one of DH's sibs. It is a struggle to be around this person. I pray the Lord will show me how to love this person, as I don't know how.

Civilla said...

That was lovely. I'm glad that I now, after many years, have a very good relationship with my mother-in-law (of course, she got saved, and that changes things). Good post. I love the pretty pictures on your blog.

Dyana said...

Hello there... I have been reading your blog for a good month or so and have come to really feel blessed by it in a very wonderful way. You have a lovely ministry to women and it is inspiring. I wanted to comment about this post... it struck a deep deep chord with me.

I have been married for almost 20 years and have struggled with my relationship with my own Mother in Law. It has been difficult for me to love... especially when I have experienced so much pain through this relationship. Not only that, but it has been a source of strife in my own relationship with my husband. He experienced the same difficulty growing up... strife and deep emotional pain in his youth... We have created a home much different...where kindness and love dwell... it just strikes with injustice that when we face a family visit... strife returns and old patterns return!

Over the years, I have learned to harden my heart and let go of the relationship... I've stopped trying... Yet, God calls me to love even though others don't deserve it... He loves me... and I don't deserve it.

Ruth and Naomi were an example of what God sees as beautiful... and we as humans rarely attain this beauty on our own. Some Mother/Daughter relationships are not even as close...

Your post is so true though... we should love and treat our Husband's family with deep love as we love our own husbands... and, as Christ has loved us.

God will work His glory through any situation... it is so important to remember that when we struggle with bitterness and it takes root... toward anyone...even our mother in law... it is sin.

The world wants us to turn our backs against anything that is painful or causes inconvenience. Yet, God wants us to turn to Him in prayer and allow Him to work through our obedience to do the right thing... to love unconditionally and with a meek and quiet spirit.

This has encourage me to remember... God may not change my Mother in law's attitudes or actions toward me and my family.. but He will and can change my heart and help me to find peace as I obey and surrender, yet again, my relationship with her to Him.

Thank you.

Abounding Treasures said...

The book of Ruth is one of my favourites and the loving relationship between Ruth and Naomi one that would challenge me if I were blessed to still have my own mother-in-law still living.

I hope that before her untimely death, the Lord was able to use some small thing that I might have done or said to speak to her soul ...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful truths :o)


Rhonda Devine said...

Good post, June:) I once cross-stitched a sampler for my mother-in-law years ago for Christmas.....part of it read "thank you for raising the man I love". We can all show gratitude for that even if we have times our relationship with our mother-in-laws is not as we would like it to be.
My own has taught me so many things for which I am grateful~we may not always see eye to eye on different aspects of parenting, but we still show respect and honor to one another~I believe God requires us to honor our "parents" regardless of how they may respond~don't we expect the same from our own children and we are not always deserving of honor either. It's a chance for us to show grace as well as learning to receive grace when we fail.

Anonymous said...

Such a good post, Mrs. Fuentes, & on a subject that's not often addressed.

I hope I am a good daughter-in-law to my husband's mother...I think I am. But after an initial acceptance of me as their son's fiancee & then wife, my in-laws affection seemed to cool for a time. I still can't figure it out, after 23 years. I remember having feelings that were not especially charitable, although when we were with each other, & others in the family, we behaved well. That is to say, we were never mean. We never threw tantrums, or tried to sabotage one another. I'm thankful that my own upbringing taught me not to behave disrespectfully toward elders. And I'm sure my mother-in-law was showing restraint with me too! Our relationship now is a good one. We are not "best friends" but we have, I believe, a mutually warm relationship. We appreciate each other, & have helped each other in hard times, & that can go a long way toward bonding two people.

My own mother was not accepted readily by all of her in-laws. She was not American born, & was of a different Christian denomination than my father ("Why couldn't he marry a nice Lutheran, American girl?") I think it distressed my mother over the years, because I watched her try to cultivate a friendship with my grandmother, who was sometimes not very pleasant to her! Yet, we were taught to be respectful to Grandma. In later years, when her health was failing, my parents would go over to her house to help her, & I remember my mother telling me once of how she was washing my Grandma (she'd had an accident), & my Grandma looked at her & said, "You're such a good girl." All those years!!....they might have been friends!! Perhaps my grandmother only then realized her daughter-in-law's worth; perhaps she observed her efforts & appreciated them for along time but never could find the right time or words to tell her. I will never know, but this story has (obviously) stayed with me.

I guess we daughters-in-law, & mothers-in-law too, need to give up any notions of what we think the relationship is going to look like, find some common ground, & take it from there.


Hadias said...

The pictures that you chose for this post are really beautiful. In addition, I truly cherish my relationship with my in-laws.

It grieves me to hear when couples battle back and forth with their in-laws. Even to the extent of not having a relationship with them.

Everyone suffers especially the children in the situation.

This was very informative and lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Like Ruth, I too have a mother-in-law who has taught me much. It took me time, because we have some differences of opinion, but there are many things that I have to appreciate in her. She is very generous.

Like Ruth, my MIL and I share the same faith and my parents do not. It is wonderful to have her support my role as a wife and mother.

I was not raised in a Christian home, and to the first commenter on her, I'd like to say, I understand. I have gotten it from my own parents many times this week--the devaluing of my role. Nevertheless, I know God knows what I am doing, and it is Him that I strive to please.

A Gracious Home said...

You have a beautiful blog. I enjoy reading it and seeing the beautiful pictures. Thank you, Doylene

Lea of Farmhouse Blessings said...

Ouch ~ confirmation of what the Lord has already been dealing with my heart about.

Sadly, I have a very difficult mother in law. She challenges and criticizes my husband and our lifestyle choices frequently. But just yesterday as I was "stewing" about another of her comments, the Lord pricked my heart and said, "Forgive her." I replied, "I do, Lord, but I'll just keep my distance." Then came "Call her. Love her despite ..."

I picked up the phone and said, "Hi. It's Lea." The response was, "So." Oh dear. Not a good start. So then I said, "So, I just wanted to see how you were doing today." The conversation began strained but I was on a mission to soften her heart and love her no matter what. By the end of the conversation, there was a smile in her voice. I felt blessed!

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know I am commissioned to love her. And maybe, just maybe, I can be a link to help heal the hurt between she and my husband as well.

Thank you for sharing this much needed message.


LillyB said...

Good Morning!
I am currently waiting on Boaz, so Ruth is one of my Books! I love the Lord with all of my heart but one of my desires is to have someone else who loves God with all his heart to share my life with! I stay busy (volunteering at my church and the local rescue mission) to keep from being lonely.
I know in God's time...
God Bless you!!!

~~ said...

Don't you just love the story of Ruth?! I wrote a paper on this book in college.... such a beautiful, insightful story.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog!!!

Your music is also a great touch to the did you get them to fit on your sidebar??


Mrs. Bridget G. said...

My mother in law is not Christian and sometimes it is very hard to tolerate her behavior at times. But my sister in law who is also Christian encourages me to be patient with her mother because she is older and has set ways. I have prayed for his mother and she slowly is becoming more amicable. The key is to pray pray pray! She is human and so am I, and we will ALWAYS have differences, but God can work thru that to improve our relationship.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post! I love my MIL she is great, our relationship could be better though.
I am having troubles with the step MIL and FIL. Neither one of them are saved. (They are alot like the reader that posted the first comment.) I tiptoe around certain subjects and we do not even bring up homeschooling or things that my child does. (Very sad really!) They do not even know us and do not want to.
I will try even harder with the good Lords help to be more compassionate and understanding towards them. But honestly I am having a real difficult time. I am weary. Now would be a good time to get on me knees. :-)
Have a great day and thank you for the post.

Tina Kay

Anonymous said...

you have an award on my blog!

Armchair Housewife said...

I am very blessed to have woderful, supportive, Godly in-laws, and that is something that i try not to take for granted. I always chide when people make in-law jokes, and I appreciate your encouragement to view loving our husband's family as part of loving him, and loving and obeying God.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your children are beautiful; your son is so cute there in his little jacket he looks almost edible. ;)

God Bless,


Amy E said...

A very interesting post. I struggle with this myself.

I went into my marriage, sure my MIL would love, and treat me kindly. My sister had received a wonderful MIL, who only had boys, and relished a daughter. Well, I was in the same situation, but it was not to be. My MIL never wanted daughters, and views me as temporary in her son's life. After 20 year of marriage, she ridicules me every time we get together, criticizing my parenting choices, and for the number of children we have (soon to be four). I was raised to not treat my elders bad, but I find myself distancing myself from her. I would not ever begrudge my husband caring for his parents, but his mom has asked that is she ever needed help she expected him to do it, and not me, since I am not family.

I keep praying for her, but after 20 years, she still has the ability to wound me. Thanks for the reminder to keep praying for her.

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