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A Good Word For The Mother-in-law!

Ruth 1: 6-18

A man limped into a police station, bruised and bleeding.
He went to the desk and said, "Officer, my mother-in-law just tried to run me down with her car."

"What happened?" Asked the officer.

"Well," said the man, "I was just getting into my car, and I heard the screech of tires.
I dived for the sidewalk just as the car went screaming by

"How do you know it was your mother-in-law?
Are you sure it was her

"Absolutely," the man said, "I'd recognize that laugh anywhere."

Mother-in-law's usually get a bad rap.
There are many wonderful mother-in-law's.
So today, I want to say some good things about good mother-in-law's.

Counselors agree that three problems commonly surface in the early years of marriage:
finances, sexual adjustment, and in-law relationships.

The individual bearing the lion's share of criticism in the latter area is the mother-in-law.

One comedian said that while the mother rocks the cradle, the mother-in-law rocks the boat.

How many are old enough to remember some of the thousands of Burma-Shave highway signs
that once dotted America's countryside?
Here is how one of them read:

"You'll love your wife
You'll love your paw
You'll even love
Your mother-in-law
If you use Burma-Shave

Mothers in law don't deserve all the kidding they get.
But this simple jingle touches on a basic theme in family life: the cohesive power of love that holds us together,
whatever comes.

How tragic that a relationship intended to be an enrichment to marriage is often castigated.
When couples become parents, they had better understand why in-laws often feel compelled
to act for the well-being of their child.
We always feel responsible for our children.
Understanding this can enable all of us to be more tolerant.

Those planning to be married should also remember that they become someone's in-law.
We received a larger family at marriage...
Such an acquisition is a wonderful gift which we should cherish.
The relationships we inherit must also be nurtured.
We should employ the finest interpersonal skills possible within our family structure.

Our Christian witness begins here.

The Book of Ruth speaks a good word for a mother-in-law, Naomi.
The Book of Ruth is a charming story.

Macartney says Benjamin Franklin read it to a fashionable company in Europe.
They were delighted with the story.
They were also surprised to learn it was a Biblical story.

Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, left Israel for Moab during a time of famine.
The word, "sojourn," in verse 2, indicates their intention was to remain only a short time.
Unforeseen events, however, cause their sojourn to be lengthened.

In the land of plenty, Elimelech died.
His sons disobeyed the law of Israel by taking foreign wives.
After 10 years, both sons also died.

Naomi selected a nickname. (see Ruth 1: 20)
Naomi means "joy" or "pleasant," but she saw herself more as
"Mara," or "bitterness."

Naomi decided to go home.
She encouraged her daughters in law to remain in Moab and remarry.
The marriage provision in the Canaanite lands stipulated that the male next of kin would marry a childless widow.
Children were important, for they provided "social security" for aged parents.

Oprah remained in Moab, but Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi.
Her beautiful words rank among the best known in the Scriptures. (Ruth 1: 16-17)
Naomi, a mother-in-law, lived a worthy example in several respects.

She was an example in her witness.

Even in a foreign land, Naomi testified of her God.
When Ruth committed herself to Naomi's God, she didn't use the general Canaanite name, "Elohim,"
instead, she used the particular Jewish name, "Yahweh." (Ruth 1: 17)
She had often heard Naomi talk about Yahweh, His people, and His promises.

One's home is often the most difficult mission field.
We often fail to be as kind and loving inside our home as we are outside.

Naomi lived and taught her faith in the home.
This is where our Christian witness begins.
Naomi was an example in concern.

Naomi wanted her daughters-in-law to be well cared for.
Though it broke her heart, she encouraged Oprah and Ruth to remain in Moab where they could find more domestic stability.
Naomi latter refused to cling selfishly to Ruth or to hold onto her or to control her.
Instead, she encouraged her in her relationship with Boaz. (Ruth 3: 1-5)

H. G. Wells said of Napoleon, "He stood at last for nothing but himself."

What a tragedy!

The highest level of concern is for another's well-being, not for one's self-interest.
Jesus demonstrated this kind of sacrificial love on the cross.
Paul reminded us to incorporate this caliber of love in our lives.
Godly love is unselfish; it "seeketh not her own." (1 Corinthians 13: 5)

Naomi was an example in healthy relationships.

Naomi sought a healthy relationship with her daughters-in-law.
She dropped the "in-law" and called them "my daughters." (Ruth 1: 11)

Later, Ruth and Boaz had a son.
The neighbors reported, "There is a son born to Naomi." (Ruth 4: 17)
Her acquaintances must have seen Naomi's big heart, and realized her grandson would be treated as her own son.

In response to an often asked question about whether marriages are made in heaven,
J. Allan Peterson wrote, "I do not know whether your marriage was made in heaven,
but I do know that all the maintenance work is done on earth.

Naomi did a good maintenance job.
She worked hard to be a supportive mother-in-law.
Her family relationships were exemplary.

In-law relationships can be satisfying when we purpose to love our extended family just as we do our immediate family.
The should be the goal of every Christian in his or her family life.

The story of Ruth has a happy ending.

Naomi's grandson, Obed, became the father of Jesse.
Jesse's son, David, became the greatest of Israel's king's and a forerunner to Jesus Christ, as the Messiah.

Naomi was a good mother-in-law, and her faith had long-lasting results.
Her life made a difference!

How about yours?

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at