Ruth and Naomi: A Functional Mother-in-Law Relationship


As we draw closer to the holidays we reminisce about fun meals, gathering with friends, family and, of course, your mother-in-law. Now, don’t let your head fill with negative images and connotations just because you read the word “mother-in-law.” God’s plan for us is to have life more abundantly and this is evident through the story of Ruth and Naomi, a fine example of a good in-law relationship.

Shortly after Naomi’s family settled in Moab, Naomi’s husband died, and her sons both married Moabite women. One of the women was named Orpah, and the other, Ruth. 

After about 10 years of marriage, both of the brothers died leaving all three of the women widows. Naomi had decided to go back home to Bethlehem and initially her two daughters-in-law went with her. Along the way she stopped and told them to go back, each to her mother’s house until they would once again remarry. Naomi kissed them goodbye, but while Orpah headed back home, Ruth wouldn’t leave. Naomi told her, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back home to her family and her gods; you should go with her.”

Then Ruth said something astonishing: “…wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried…” (Ruth 1:16-17 NLT).

Wow, there is such dedication and loyalty in that statement, and she meant every word of it! Ruth went with Naomi to her country, and she put her faith in the God of Israel.

The name Naomi means “pleasant” and she must have been a pleasant person to be around. It is obvious that she loved both of these women because she even refers to them as “my daughters” in the first chapter, and she had their best interests in mind when she told them to return home. She must have also shared her faith with them over the 10-year period that they were married to her sons because now we hear Ruth declare, “Your God will be my God.” No one is going to leave their home, friends, and family to go off with their mother-in-law unless she was a true godly example. Naomi must have been someone to look up to – a woman they wanted to follow and be like.

The best way to lead others to God is to love them into the kingdom – to be the kind of person that others are drawn to. Then, when they are ready, you can lovingly lead them to the Savior.  When others see a changed heart and life, it makes them curious. They wonder what or who has made this difference. If we want to lead others to Christ, our lives must be attractive and our joy and peace so evident that it causes others to want what we have. They will naturally want to know what makes us different and what sets us apart from the average person. At some point they will ask, and we will have an open door to lovingly tell our own story of how we came to Jesus. When they do, be ready to lovingly share the wonderful things the Lord has done in your life and what He is able to do in theirs.

Lord, like Naomi, please cause me to be so full of Your love and peace that others will be drawn to me so that I may lead them to You. May I stay abiding in You and Your Word so that my light will shine bright for You. May I, like Ruth, be a good worker – faithful and committed to serving others and to serving You. Amen.

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