Love’s Loyal Choice

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV)
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 even death separates you and me.”

Ruth 1:16-17 (MSG)
But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”
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“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. 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 do the same to me [as He has done to you], and more also, if anything but death separates me from you.” -AMPLIFIED

We are told that Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died early in the story. She was left a widow with her two sons living in a strange land. The two young men married themselves. “Each son married a woman from Moab—one was named Orpah, the other Ruth—and they lived together for 10 years before Mahlon and Chilion died also. Naomi was left alone, without her husband and two sons.” -Ruth 1:4-5 (VOICE) What a sad state of affairs things have become.

Poor Naomi was left all alone, without any blood relatives to care for her in her old age; and she was in an unfamiliar land. Word reaches Naomi that Jehovah had once again opened up the heavens and brought life to the Promised Land. So she quickly decides to head back to Bethlehem, “The House of Bread” where her extended family lived.

Naomi informs her daughters-in-laws what her plans were, and they too prepared to go with her; all three setting off toward Bethlehem. We find that after a time though Naomi turns and tells her daughters-in-law to go back home. Go back to your families. “Return to your mothers. Go back and find yourselves each a new husband.”

At first both woman were reluctant to return. Eventually, though, we find Orpah agreeing to head back to her mother’s home. She leaves with many tears and much embracing. Orpah turns towards home.

With Ruth though it was a another story. The Amplified Version tells us that “Ruth clung to Naomi”. She refused to go back. Naomi urged her to follow her sitter-in-law back home, but still Ruth would not comply. Ruth’s answer to Naomi was her statement of love and loyalty to her mother-in-law. It was also a statement of her faith and willingness to accept Naomi’s God. (Naomi’s life must have been a stunning testament and testimony for her God!)

Ruth’s character shines through within her statement of faith. Here was a young woman who grew up in a pagan nation and a pagan family. Yet, she sees the difference in Naomi and Naomi’s family. She chooses to leave everything that she has ever known to follow her mother-in-law back to Israel. Forsaking her own family, her own customs, and her own gods. She even makes this pledge, “May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Missionary and martyr Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This statement could be applied to Ruth’s attitude toward Naomi and her life. Ruth is leaving behind everything that she has ever knew and she is identifying herself with Naomi and all that Naomi represents; including her God. Her decision is a demonstration of what total surrender looks like.

Ruth pledged her loyalty to Naomi and they continued on their long journey. We are told that when Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she no longer argued with her. Naomi accepted Ruth’s commitment and companionship. The bond that is formed between these two women is a reflection of God’s love for us. Ruth’s faithfulness toward Naomi and her refusal to leave her, no matter what, is exactly how God’s love for each one of is.

Looking at Ruth and the choices she made to leave everything she knew in order to go with Naomi is a good indicator of her love, but also of her courage. Ruth was venturing into the unknown, but her love for Naomi was so strong that she was willing to leave all she knew in order to be with her. Love’s loyal choice was made; these two women needed one another. And so they continued their journey.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to also have the character of Ruth; willing to leave all I know in order to please you. Thank you that your love for me is loyal and strong. In fact, I am reminded that nothing at all can separate me from your love! That fact astounds and amazes me. Let that same love be in me, so that I may extend it to others. I want to choose to love. Help me to put self aside and make the choice to love.

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