A story of redemption, love, hope, and restoration
When we think about the book of Ruth, we usually focus on the main character, Ruth, and her powerful statement of faith:
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’”
However, without the life and testimony of another woman, Ruth would never have gotten to know the Lord and become a part of David’s lineage. That other woman is a background character and one who wanted to be overlooked and forgotten about because her life had become bitter. Can you guess who she is?
Naomi had what we would call a hard life. Her husband moved the family away from the native land and into a foreign country. Thus she was removed from her family and all she was familiar with. Then her husband dies along with her two sons, leaving her widowed with no male figure to take care of her. And to be widowed in biblical times meant one either had to remarry or starve, and Naomi was beyond the age to remarry. So no wonder she asked to be called Mara! And like all hardships, this brought out the best and worst aspects of Naomi’s character. So we’ll first look at and learn from the good things Naomi did, and then next time study the not so exemplary aspects of her character.
So now the question is…would these things also be true of us? Would people looking back at our life and be able to say, “She testified and showed the love of God through her life” or “He loved and extended relationships to those looked down upon by society, local culture, and even many Christians.” Do our lives reflect and testify to the love and grace of God so that others would be willing to follow us to the ends of the earth as we follow Christ? Because of the way we live our lives, would non-Christians looking on be willing to say along with Ruth, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”?
Evangelism is a popular topic in our current church culture, and we are given a lot of advice on different techniques to use whether it be street witnessing, mission trips, VBS groups, or “Good Person” tests. However, the one method most commonly overlooked is what Naomi did. She didn’t go out canvassing all the Moabite women in her neighborhood and sharing the Torah with them. Nor did she go on a mission trip to Edom. Rather, she took the people God brought into her life, loved them, built a relationship with them, and lived out her life before them in faithfulness to the God she served. And this was all Ruth needed to declare, “I want all that you have.”
So in closing, I am not advocating that people stop evangelizing. No! Sharing the gospel is clearly mandated in Scripture as Paul wrote:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”
Nevertheless, I would also add “And how can they know God unless they see Him in the lives of the people who follow Him?” So I challenge you…how is your life’s testimony going?