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December 19, 2023 - Ruth 1:8-18

Typically, when reading these verses, we focus on the loyalty and unselfishness of Ruth who would not leave her mother-in-law even if it meant traveling to a foreign land and foregoing any future marriage prospects.  But there is also the response of Naomi who encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their families where they would have better prospects even though it would leave her alone.  Naomi:  “It is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” (1:13).  Catch that?  Naomi felt bad (“exceedingly bitter” to her) because her troubles had caused trouble for Ruth and Orpah (“for your sake”).

 

I’m thinking about human relationships.  As Christians we are called to love others, our neighbors, even our enemies.  And we put forth great effort to do so.  After awhile, though, when that love is not reciprocated, it just becomes hard to continue loving and caring.  Think about something as simple as someone who, having received much love and care, never says, “Thank you!”  Now, we should continue loving that person even so.  And we have a wonderful example in that our God has loved us and continues to love us even with all our failings.  But what does this have to do with our present story?  Well, Ruth has often been highly praised for her loyalty and love to Naomi; however, when we think about it, Naomi, who loved Ruth and wanted the best for her, was not difficult to love.  Brings to mind Jesus’ counsel, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).  Love others.  Show care for others.  And it will not be difficult for them to return that love and care.  In other words, let us love as we have been loved!

 

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,

lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,

that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,

whom thou in sacred vow dost join in one.   --Dorothy F. Gurney (1883)

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