April 21

Ruth, Part 2

Ruth 1:17 Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth’s final state—as a woman married to a godly and successful Israelite, a foreigner who bore an ancestor of Christ—can be taken as a common romantic “happy ending.” But that obscures the passionate commitment that Ruth lived by—its sacrifices and its rewards.

Ruth committed herself to Naomi’s God and to that God’s people, but she also committed herself to her former mother-in-law, with the kind of devotion that is rare in any age. “Where you die, I will die” is a monumental promise to a widow who would otherwise be alone and without any prospects. There is no hint of trying to get married again or connecting with Naomi in a temporary win-win. This was a pledge until the end of Naomi’s life.

Once settled in her new land, Ruth continued to sacrifice for Naomi. She might have chosen to beg, or she might have hoped that the town’s support of a widow who lost her sons would extend to her. But she loved Naomi, and so she went to work with one of the few humble options available to her—gleaning in a field. She is aware of Naomi’s relative Boaz, but only seems to hope that a connection with him would benefit Naomi as Ruth might find favor with him.

How easy it is to miss Ruth’s continued commitment as we watch and wait for the romance with Boaz to blossom. Ruth wasn’t hoping for a husband; she was thinking there might be favor bestowed on her that would benefit the household. Her commitment to Naomi was foremost in her mind.

Later, when attachments begin to form, Ruth continues her commitment to Naomi as she follows Naomi’s advice on how to position herself at the threshing floor as a wife for Boaz. In following Naomi’s advice, Ruth puts her own plans and reputation at risk. Yet her commitment to Naomi stands strong throughout, and she clearly trusts that this is the way to do things, and that Naomi is steering her in the right direction.

There are so many wonderful lessons here. But let’s first notice the contrast (or really, the relationship) between Ruth’s commitment to Naomi and what Ruth ultimately garnered for herself. In committing herself so completely to the good of another, to the point of letting go of any personal agendas and even putting her own name on the line, Ruth is a model of godly abandonment and committed love. She lost her life (for Naomi) and found it (Matthew 16:25). God honored that commitment by bringing to Ruth a godly rich husband, respect, and finally, a place in the lineage of our Savior.

When we make commitments, how long do they last? Do we carry them through to the end, or do we get “interrupted” by life or distracted by something more attractive, something that we feel we need to go after rather than fulfilling our commitments? May Ruth’s example be a deep and lasting encouragement to us.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be wise in my commitments, and then to carry them through to the end. Thank You for preserving the story of Ruth for us, and may her love and commitment to Naomi remind us of what You call us to do, and what You’ve already done for us.

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