The Old Testament Book of Ruth tells the story of a young woman who left her home, her family, and her traditions out of loyalty to her widowed mother-in-law.
After her husband—Naomi’s son—died, Ruth could have stayed in Moab to find another husband from among her own people. But she decided instead to stay with Naomi and make sure the older woman was cared for.
When Naomi tried to convince her to choose the greater security of a life in Moab, Ruth replied with words that are often identified with the vows couples make to one another at their wedding: “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17).
What did Naomi have to offer Ruth? She herself admitted there was nothing she could do for her daughter-in-law. But Ruth wasn’t trying to get something from Naomi. She saw a friend in need and decided to support her. So she joined Naomi in Bethlehem and took up menial work in order to provide for both of them.
Ruth’s hard work and unselfish care for Naomi attracted the attention of Boaz, a wealthy distant relative of Naomi. Boaz fell in love with Ruth and took her as his wife. The story ends with Naomi holding Ruth’s infant son in her arms and joining the women of Bethlehem in blessing the Lord for caring for her so well through the love and commitment of Ruth.
Is a friend going through a difficult time—perhaps a painful illness, financial trouble, or a death in the family? Is someone you know struggling with disappointment or betrayal by another person? Take Ruth as your model, and show that person covenant love! Support him or her in any way you can. Remember, too, how faithful Jesus has been to you, and try to be just as faithful to your friend. Jesus didn’t “gain” anything by covenanting himself to you; he did it simply because he loves you. Ask him to give you that same love for the people in your life. Know that as you remain loyal, you will become a minister of Jesus’ peace, hope, and healing.