May 8, 2017
At the choral concert this past week members of our ladies’ ensemble sang “The Song of Ruth.” This song is based on one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible about caring, which is found in Ruth 1:16-17, “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.” Ruth married into a Hebrew family that had moved into her country. After her husband and his father both died, her mother-in-law decided to return to her home town, Bethlehem. Naomi, her mother-in-law tried to discourage her from going with her, but Ruth was committed to caring for her.
One of the most important lessons we can learn from the story of Ruth is that true caring is done without any thought of personal gain or the personal cost to yourself. Naomi’s reasoning with Ruth was that she should stay in her own country and find a new husband to take care of her, because to go back to Judah would be difficult and the chances of her finding a new husband in a foreign land were not as good. Ruth’s determination to go with Naomi was about her desire and commitment to take care of Naomi. It had nothing to do with her meeting her own needs and taking care of herself.
Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, and children of all ages will honor their mothers and express their love in many ways. I believe that one of the greatest expressions of love that a child can give to their mother is to demonstrate that unconditional love that a mother has for their child in their own life. This is the lesson I received from my own mother, who consistently demonstrated her commitment to others throughout her lifetime, and never with a concern about her own needs and concerns. It is easy to honor someone with these qualities. I can only hope that I can be just a fraction as much of a caring person as she was, because I know it is a quality that comes from the Lord.
The end of Ruth’s story is incredible as her sacrificial service is noticed by Boaz. Boaz becomes her kinsman redeemer, marries her, and from that marriage comes a lineage which includes King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ. Her life story is a great example of how God can literally change someone’s direction and work His plan through their life. Ruth’s decision to care about someone else first and herself second, led to amazing blessings for herself and others, as well as a life full of fulfillment. Ruth held on to the belief that somehow, God was faithful to his people and her life is an example of how God rewards faithfulness. In Hebrews 11:6 the Bible says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
The same fulfillment that Ruth experienced is available to each of us as well. God’s Word promises blessings to us when we forget about ourselves and think of others first. Blessings from God are not always immediate or even tangible, but they are sure. On next Mother’s day weekend, we will think of our own mother’s and how they thought less of themselves in order to give us so much. My mom never really had much in worldly possessions, but I don’t believe she would have traded anything the world has to offer, for her faith in Christ, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Just like Ruth, she is receiving the stamp of approval from God on a life committed to serving others.