Summary: This sermon addresses a very common family problem, namely, the old in-law conflict.
Some years ago our Assemblies of God national radio program, Revivaltime, offered a highly controversial book to anyone sending a specified amount to the program.
The book was written by a high profile daughter-in-law. In it she blasts her ex-husband and his famous family. The hot lava freely flows. It was nothing short of venomous.
Basically, it echoed the cry of a young lady hopelessly trapped by what she called "the empire." The empire, in this case, was the massive TV ministry of her father-in-law.
She was expected to fulfill all their requests. No questions were to be asked. She indicated that it was not a matter of a mild form of control. It was total domination. Resentment grew and finally her storybook marriage ended.
That is not an uncommon situation. My experience as a pastor (forty-three years) is that quite often in-laws cross the line. They mean well. They just don’t know where to stop. Inevitably, fractured relationships happen everytime.
Today, I want to focus this message on one of the wisest in-laws in the Bible. Her name is Naomi.
We often hear the words of my text at a wedding. But originally the sentiment expressed was not directed to a husband or a wife.
The speaker is Ruth and the object of her affection is her mother-in-law, Naomi.
Naomi and Ruth begin their bonding in the fires of affliction. They are both freshly widowed.
Naomi, hearing that there’s bread in Bethlehem, gets on the road to leave the land of Moab. Orpah and Ruth escort her and then Orpah returns.
Naomi releases Ruth to go back. she says in essence, "Honey, You don’t have to go with me. I know that you have your parents, your family, and your native land. These are all dear to you. Feel free to return."
But Ruth persisted and walked right out of oblivion and into God’s favor. Even a book of the Bible would bear her name and she would be part of the Gentile ancestry of Jesus Christ.
Notice the freedom and release which Naomi exibited. She could have said, "Don’t you think you need to come with me? I’m a lonely widow and I need you." But she didn’t and in this she is a great example to all in-laws. Release... don’t control!
She realized that Ruth had sentimental feelings. She didn’t put her on guilt trip or try to manipulate her.
Parents, stop parenting your married children. Don’t be bossy or inquisitive.
Ruth and Naomi settled down to live in Bethlehem. They continued to treat each other with dignity and respect. Those two traits would solve most family problems.
Ruth begins to fall in love with Boaz. She needs desperately some good motherly advice. Fortunately, she has not closed her spirit to Naomi.
Naomi is acting as a wise mother as she instructs Ruth on the law concerning the Kinsman Redeemer. Notice please that she is leading her and inspiring her. She is not pushing her or controlling her.
Proverbs 31:26 certainly fits Naomi. It says, " She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
In time, little Obed showed up. It was a happy day for Naomi. She did not say, " He’s not my son’s baby." Her heart was to big to make such a statement. She took little Obed and began to nurse him.
She took him to Wal Mart to show him off. She had a hundred pictures taken of the little fellow. She entered him in the "Most Beautiful Baby" contest. She bought him the finest Huggies.
That was Naomi’s boy. She was his " Granny."
That is what being a mother-in-law is all about. Naomi is truly a model for all.
She released her daughter-in-law to make a life decision.
She counseled her on courtship and marriage.
She took Ruth’s baby as her own.
In her ways, she becomes an example to all who would lead their families toward God.