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What One Book of the Bible Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and Loneliness (part 3, Ruth)



The last two posts I have published were about Naomi and Boaz, and we took a deep dive into some of the lessons that these two people can teach us, and how their lives really do apply to ours. (Check those posts out if you haven't already, because they will give context to this one!) I have honestly learned so much and been challenged in so many ways, and today's final post is no different, because we're going to be talking about the woman the whole book was written about: Ruth!


If I'm being completely honest here, Ruth puts me in my place. I feel humbled simply reading her story, because her selflessness and work ethic are unmatched.


When she committed to following Naomi back home, even after Orpah had left for her family, Ruth had lost a husband too. She was grieving and mourning the loss of her love, but even so, in that place of hurt, she still looked outside of herself and decided to put Naomi's needs above her own, saying, "where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay." (Ruth 1:16) It would have been easy for her to go back to her own family, understandable even. I'm sure she missed the comfort of her home, her family, but instead, she decided to go to a new place, where the only person she knew was Naomi, and there was no guarantee of what her future would look like.


Ruth put Naomi's needs above her own, even when she was wrestling with her own loss too.


And man, in my friendships, when I'm going through something hard, I want the focus to be on me. I want to be taken care of, I want to be listened to, I want to be checked in on. But Ruth reminds me that even in that struggle, we are called to put our people first. We are called to love them and invest in them and provide for them, just as Jesus has done for us. That's a hard sacrifice to make sometimes, and it can be easy to pour and pour and pour into other people and feel drained. But when we are coming to Jesus before everything else, being filled by Him, and then letting Him guide us as we navigate through our own struggles and loving others, we will be able to do that in a healthy way.


Now hear me out here - I'm not saying we are never to be poured into or have needs in our relationships. God calls us to be in community where everyone is being invested in and surround ourselves with people who will walk with us in difficult seasons. But too often, we focus more on being poured into then pouring out. We go into friendship with the mindset of "what can I get out of this" instead of "what can I give to this person", and that's what Ruth is challenging us on. She is challenging us to take the focus off of ourselves, onto the people God has placed right in front of us to love on, and man, that is so very much against what the world is telling us to do. But I have faith that God is going to do something with our selflessness and love towards other people in big ways, in other people's lives and in our own, even if we can't see it on this side of heaven. God is working in us, and that's not always going to be easy, and it's going to require sacrifice, but it's all for His glory and our good.


Not only does Ruth just go with Naomi, she actually becomes the provider for the household. She starts working long days in the fields, gathering whatever grain she can find to bring home to Naomi. Ruth was not afraid to get her hands dirty if it meant being able to bless her mother-in-law.


Once again, I feel challenged. Because how often do I try to excuse myself from doing the hard things in my friendships, "getting my hands dirty", so to speak? Sometimes I'd rather be able to keep my relationships easy and surface level, but then I'm not walking in the community God has designed for me. I'm called to get out of my comfort zone, get deep, and provide for and pour into my people. That's going to get uncomfortable sometimes, but that's the way God intended our godly friendships to look like.


This may look like going out of your way to bake a treat or a meal for a friend who's been sick or having a rough week. This may look like asking hard questions to get real about where your hearts are at and to understand the struggles a friend is facing. Maybe it looks like offering to help with schoolwork or chores to take a load off of their shoulders. Or maybe it looks like something completely different, but the point is - get out of your comfort zone and be intentional about "getting your hands dirty" and investing in your friendships.


When Naomi hears Ruth has been gathering grain in Boaz's field, she sees an opportunity open up - one I bet none of us ladies would ever imagine being willing to jump into.


You see, Naomi creates a master plan for Ruth to basically ask Boaz to marry her. Ruth is instructed to get dressed in her best clothes, all clean and sparkly, go down to the threshing floor (where the grain was separated and harvested) and lay at Boaz's feet after he had eating and drinking (this was a sign of submission to the man). And then, she would ask him to marry him, since he was the guardian redeemer of the family.


Ruth, Ruth, Ruth. She did it, just as Naomi had instructed her to do. She was bold and courageous, and she initiated the conversation (which I cannot imagine how awkward that would be when Boaz woke up to see Ruth laying there). She did it obediently, and man, the blessings that she reaped by getting out of her comfort zone are indescribable.


It turns out, Boaz would marry Ruth, and together, they would have a son. After Ruth's husband died, I'm sure she doubted her ability to ever get married again or have a child, but God worked in amazing, unexpected ways, so she got a second chance at a family. And to make this whole thing even better - that baby was David's grandfather, and will eventually become one of Jesus' ancestors. Ruth has cemented herself in history as part of Jesus's lineage, and wow, that's so incredible. God used her heartbreak to change the course of history.


I want to be like Ruth. I want to selflessly put my people first. I want to get deep and intentional so that I can pour into the people God has put in my life. I want to be bold and courageous. I want to be an initiator. And I want to be a part of the story God is writing for all of humanity.

 

Studying the book of Ruth has challenged me in so many ways and has shifted my mindset. I am honestly so grateful that I get to share the things I'm learning here on the blog, and it is my prayer that the Lord would work in your heart with these truths just as He's worked in mine.


What have you learned from this three part series covering the book of Ruth? Is there anything in particular that stuck out to your or challenged you? I'd love to hear down in the comments below!

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