Pass the torch of a spiritual heritage of faith. Intercede in prayer for future in-laws and offspring. Give adult married children the right to make mistakes, learn and grow together.
A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (Genesis 2:24).
When a baby is inside its mother’s womb, that child is one flesh with its mother. At birth, the baby sucks into its lungs the first breath of air. The child experiences the first taste of independence. From that time on, the child is being prepared for that day when he or she will make decisions independently as an adult. At marriage, a person enters into an interdependent relationship, and becomes one flesh with another person again. This unit is established by God. It is sacred.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
From then on, when we deal with our child, we are dealing with part of a unit. Our child’s relationship with his or her marriage partner is more important than their relationship with us.
In many situations, it may be best not to give advice unless our adult children seek it from us. When we see our adult children going astray we may wish to warn them, but certainly we should never nag. Most will not resent our occasional gentle advice given in a spirit of love, if we then back off. Our children must have room to learn from their own mistakes. We cannot smother them. Remember, we may not know all the facts. Our children receive input and advice from many sources, and ours is only one of those sources.
When our child (or our child’s marriage partner) comes to us for advice on how to handle problems with each other, we should not respond by putting down the other partner. Instead, our response should be, “How would Jesus handle this? What does God want you to do in this circumstance?” This is the most important consideration in any marriage. They cannot change their marriage partner. They can only change themselves. As we help our children search for God’s will for themselves in their marriage relationship, we are guiding them toward maturity.
Our married children have the right to make plans and decisions together with each other, apart from us or against our advice. They have the right to make mistakes. They have the right to be immature, and to learn and grow together.
Just as God planned and made each of us inside our mother’s womb (Psalm 139, below), he plans and makes the person who will be our child’s mate. When two individuals are joined in marriage, two unique personalities are merged into one unit.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
While we are raising our children, God is also preparing the child who will someday be knit together with our child in the union of marriage. What a privilege to pray for that child as we raise and pray for our own child and wait on God to bring his plan to pass! We don’t know who that child is, but our heavenly father knows. A mother carries a child inside her body for nine months, and she feels a special bond when that child finally arrives into the world. When a mother prays for her child’s mate during the growing up years of her child, she also feels a special bond when she finally meets this person for whom she has been praying. What a terrific way to start an in-law relationship!
Indestructible Love (Naomi)
Naomi had a right relationship with her daughters-in-law. That story starts like this:
Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
Naomi must have had many long talks with her daughters-in-law about life, and no doubt she revealed to them by word and action the God she served. The story of Ruth and Naomi is the classic example of the love that can exist between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. This love was made possible because Naomi led Ruth to know and love her God.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
The baby born to Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth was the grandfather of King David, the royal line through which Jesus was born. It all started with Naomi and her obedience to God.
Down through the ages the story of God’s love must continue to be told. We are instructed to tell this story to our offspring as long as the earth shall stand.
“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”
–Proverbs 13:2; Acts 2:39; Joel 1:3
Begin preparing a spiritual inheritance for your children today. Teach them their awesome responsibility to carry the torch to their offspring. What a shame it would be to leave our descendants an inheritance of this world’s wealth and fail to leave them the most important treasure of all. What a privilege to pray for those who come after us: that God would grant that none would be born unto us that will not choose to serve our God; and that each one who comes after us would light the torch for the next generation!
Ask God to lead you and determine to be obedient to his direction in rearing your children.
Thoughts to Remember
We have the privilege and responsibility to pray for our child’s future mate. Our children deserve the right to make and learn from their own mistakes. We have yet to see what God will do through our children, our sons and daughters-in-law, and our grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on down, if we will be obedient to God.
Question for Discussion
- How should I prepare for (or deal with) daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren?
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted