The title of mother-in-law is one that no woman wishes for herself. It brings a bad taste with it. No one likes their mother-in-law.
Because mother-in-laws are pushy, always take their baby boy’s side, and never fail to notice the dust on your mantle. They know best and don’t mind bringing it to your attention.
The dread of mother-in-laws is not denied and is boldly portrayed in our society. Just think of the movie, Monster-In-Law. I googled mother-in-law before writing this post and the top results consisted of mother-in-law jokes, articles such as How To Deal With Your Mother-in-Law in 21 Steps and Managing Your Mother-in-Law, and “funny” memes about how annoying mother-in-laws are.
There was not a single positive thing about them.
I’ve never had a problem with this outlook. I’ve actually never given much thought to it – mainly because I am very close with my mother-in-law. I just considered myself blessed to have a sweet and thoughtful mother-in-law who didn’t treat me badly, wasn’t too pushy and generally took my side more than her own son’s. My mother-in-law and I’s relationship is good!
But when several ladies from church and I were going through Precept Ministries’ study on Ruth, they asked a number of questions about Ruth and Naomi’s relationship. I found it ironic that we would be studying that while I am actually living with my mother-in-law, and it really provoked me to think through my outlook on my mother-in-law and mother-in-laws in general.
Is it enough to not detest her? Can you get by with simply being cordial and polite? Or is there something deeper we are called to as Daughter-in-Laws?
I want to share some of the things I learned from my study:
1. Be loyal to her.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she [Naomi] saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Ruth had just lost her husband, but she realized that her mother-in-law had also lost her husband and two sons. Ruth was not alone in her grief. (There is also the really cool aspect of the kinsman redeemer, but I don’t have time to go into all of that. But check out the study I did and you can learn all about it! It’s pretty awesome!) Ruth made the decision not to abandon the mother of her husband. I feel that that shows a compassionate heart in Ruth and speaks a lot to her character and the view she had towards her mother-in-law.
2. Make sacrifices for her.
Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
What Ruth had done for Naomi had been so rampantly talked about in Bethlehem that this man whom Ruth had just met knew about it. Her love and service for her mother-in-law must have been so evident. Her sacrifice – leaving all that she knew – was praised by strangers. Ruth viewed her mother-in-law as a person who deserved respect, honor, and sacrifice. Do I have and display that same kind of love for my mother-in-law? Do people talk about how sacrificially I love her? This has really made me think and consider my actions.
3. Be thoughtful towards her.
At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
When Boaz fed Ruth, she was satisfied and saved some of her meal. When she brought back all of the grain she had gathered that day, she also gave Naomi the rest of her meal. I found this to be extremely thoughtful of her. How easy would it have been to save that meal for herself at the end of a long work day, but instead she fed her mother-in-law.
As I mentioned before, Chris and I are living temporarily with his parents until we buy a house. This has given me countless opportunities to serve my mother-in-law. Whether it be folding her clothes in the dryer, cleaning up the kitchen, or fixing her coffee for the next morning, the Lord has used these verses greatly in my life to show me practical ways to obey them.
4. Seek her wisdom.
She (Ruth) said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
When Naomi asked Ruth to go and lie at Boaz’s feet, seeking his covering as her Kinsman Redeemer, Ruth had to be terrified. This was not a common custom of her people. But she trusted Naomi.
Whether or not you believe it, your mother-in-law does have wisdom to offer. She is older than you, and sometimes just living longer gives you a different perspective on life. If your mother-in-law is a Christian, how much more wisdom can you glean from her! Sometimes it just takes us being humble enough to ask.
I hope this encouraged you to really take a hard look at the way you view and treat your mother-in-law. I know it has me. I’d love to hear your insights and experiences!