Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

Fruiting-out Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Dear Andrea

I am about to become a mother-in-law. Our family has always been close-knit and Christian. Since becoming engaged, our son has been pulling away emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically from us. While I realize a certain amount of this is normal, I am feeling left out and no longer a part of his life. His siblings and my husband agree that he has become “obsessed” with his fiance and she has become everything to him.

Furthermore, we are hearing things she is saying to discredit us in little ways, for example, “Your parents favor your sister over you. My friend noticed it too.” Another issue came up when our son asked me for prayer regarding a career decision, when she heard about it she said he shouldn’t have told his family, it was their secret and we would influence his decision. It was just normal for one of our children to ask for prayer or guidance. Sadly, he doesn’t ask anymore.

Yes, they both have a profession of faith and salvation in Christ, yet it doesn’t seem to be the center of their relationship. I do like his fiance and want her to feel accepted and loved. I am grieved, but more than that I want to know the right way to be involved with them, how to draw both of them in and how to get over the criticism. Sadly, he is buying into the negativity.

My other children feel hurt and rejected and I don’t know what to say to them. I don’t want to be one of those critical, bitter mother-in-laws we hear so much about. I want this marriage to add to our family, not take away from it. Thanks for ANY advice. I was searching high and low for some godly, Biblical wisdom when I stumbled upon your site. After reading some of the answers you have given it is apparent you are a person of integrity and use the Bible to back up your answers. Additionally, do you know of any sound Christian books on being a mother-in-law?

Truly at a loss,
Vivienne

Dear Vivienne,

Thank you for your kind words, I hope I can offer some encouragement in your determination to be a good mother-in-law. I don’t normally do this, but the Spirit impressed it upon me to open by praying with you, so mentally take my hand, or however you’re comfortable praying. I also don’t normally pray like this, but it also feels right.

Father, I’m coming before you today with my sister Vivienne. She and her family are feeling hurt and rejected, Lord, a new woman has come into her son’s life and seems to be shoving her aside. Lord, we’re very concerned that this woman is dragging her son down spiritually. Vivienne needs your direction, your wisdom, and your comfort today, Father. Lord, you know what she’s feeling; if Vivienne’s discerned right, this woman is seeking to take your place, too, in her son’s life. We’re coming together before you, Lord, and we ask you to open his eyes, Lord, if this union is not of you. We ask you to draw her son and his fiancé both into a deeper relationship with you, to place you in the first place in their hearts, not themselves, not each other. We ask you to bind this family together, Lord, and that your spirit would infuse all that they do, for your word says a cord of three strands is not easily broken.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If your son marries the wrong woman, it would bring suffering on him in the future, but all you can really do about that is warn him once, maybe twice, and pray, pray, pray. And love them, but in this world, that’s gotten distorted. You’ve probably read it before, but so have I, and I find myself needing a deeper study of the love chapter, or specifically, 1 Cor 13 4-7:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The love the world proposes is a combination of lust and rejoicing in iniquity at the expense of the truth. Love does not approve of what God condemns, but rather rejoices in the hope of redemption. Critical attiudes are definitely out, but fruit inspecting is not only permitted, it’s required. Fruit inspecting is what your son ought to be doing, but is no doubt too overwhelmed by his hormones. He would be wise to listen to Godly counsel of those able to see more clearly.

As you indicated in the letter, it is typical for those “in love” to obsess with each other. My husband and I were no exception, and I even withdrew from my family, but I had quite the opposite situation, my family doesn’t really know the Lord and served as a stumbling block, and my husband helped me get away from a bad situation.

Separating a lamb from the ewe, however, is what a wolf does.

Mathew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Mathew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

So many today, including my loved ones, profess Christ as Savior, but deny him as Lord in their hearts, if not with their mouths. And, as this scripture makes clear, you cannot have Christ as Savior unless he is also Lord.

Can we know what is in a man’s heart? Watch the way he lives and the words he speaks, for the word says, “out of the over flow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Or, as I’ve said, inspect their fruit, whether they be evil or good. And the bible gives us a dandy list:

Galatians 5:19-25 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

So what does the fruit inspection turn up? Does this woman live for God, or does she sow to the flesh? Does she live to please God or does she live to please herself? Does she wallow in unrepentant sin, or does she merely have a few areas she’s struggling in? I can’t tell you that. But God can.

Furthermore, check our your son’s fruit while you’re at it, especially concerning whether his fruit ever indicated he had truly submitted to Christ as His Lord. It’s possible this woman is dragging him down—it’s also possible he never really had Christ at the center of his life to begin with, in which case breaking them up wouldn’t do any good even if it were possible. The God I know would be apt in that case to turn him over to her, letting him reap the wages of sin until he gets so sick of himself he’s willing to surrender the throne of his heart to Christ our Lord.

It also won’t hurt to check yourself while you’re fruit inspecting. Ask God to show you if any of her accusations against you have truth to them. If so, you can make a huge difference by showing yourself willing to apologize for what you bring to the table. It could also open up an opportunity to discuss your concerns with him.

I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with the books on the subject to give any a seal of approval. Still, you would probably find a bible study on the love chapter or the fruits of the spirit beneficial. Your church library might have something and I’m sure your local Christian bookstore would be happy to assist.

I did a quick search on Amazon, though, and this sounds like a title you might find helpful: The Mother-in-Law Dance: Can Two Women Love the Same Man and Still Get Along? by Annie Chapman Especially since it got several complaints by secular readers for it’s Christian content.

The publisher’s unfamiliar here, but Amazon indicates this is a Christian Title: Just Call Me Mom: Practical Steps to Becoming a Better Mother-In-Law by Mary Tatum

And this one’s from Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher: 52 Ways to Be a Great Mother-In-Law by Claudia Arp

In Christ,
Andrea


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