“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
- Ruth 1:16-17
How much do you love the Lord?
In this beautiful story, Ruth completely commits herself voluntarily to the wishes and care of Naomi, her mother-in-law, in her quest to return from Moab to her own country, Israel.
These verses foreshadow the passion and total commitment the Church, the bride of Christ, will have for Christ.
Like many things in life, that passion comes through a personal abandonment of one's own aims and desires. Abandonment is generally considered a failure of love. Though, in this case, it is a failure of love for the desires of selfishness. We see Ruth’s desires became identical to those of her mother-in-law. Our aims are to switch over to be the same as those of God.
When we come to Christ, we are called to the level of being able to say, "for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:” Jesus called us to follow Him to where he lodged — the cross.
1 Corinthians 13 is the LOVE chapter. It explains in reasonable detail how our nature is to be changed by Charity. In the commencement of that chapter we look and see what is valuable and less valuable.
V1) "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
Nobody speaks with the tongues of men and angels unless it is a gift given by God.
(V2) "And though I have the gift of prophecy,"
Again, nobody gets the gift of prophecy unless it is from God.
(V2) "and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;"
We can read all scripture and bury our minds in commentaries and ancient documents till we are blue in the face, but to understand all mysteries and acquire the depth of knowledge implied here, can only come by divine revelation.
(V2) "and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I AM NOTHING."
It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (Matthew 17:20, but the faith to obtain that grain comes through a great belief.
(V3) "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,"
A compassionate and giving heart
(V3) and though I give my body to be burned,"
A martyrs outlook of the future. See Latimer and Ridley.
(V3) "and have not charity,"
Still missing the main ingredient for internal change to a Christlike nature
(V3) "it profiteth ME NOTHING."
In this short patch of verses, we see a person greatly blessed by God; as those attributes only come from God. The scripture suggests that He will bless us according to our desires: but if the foundation of those is not Charity, or Godly love, they are absolutely worthless TO US.
All the work we do with those gifts may bless others, but they profit us nothing in what we are building for God (I Corinthians 3). All that time and effort allocated to our calling is wasted.
It seems odd that someone could have all these attributes yet be missing the finest quality — the quality which seems to underpin the rest — and yet Paul is suggesting this person had them.
This person had all those gifts without having his nature truly changed as recommended in the rest of the chapter. Paul is suggesting that along with the gifts for which we ask God, a change must come in our desires and behaviours as well as our love relationship with God and His Son.
From Verse 8, Paul says that there will come a time when prophecies shall cease, tongues shall fail and knowledge shall vanish away (as we know it). But Charity shall never fail. This means it transcends death, where the others do not, because they are not required.
In our key scripture, we see the extent of Ruth’s love encapsulates the quality of Charity, in that she was able to leave her own family, friends since birth, history, familiar surroundings, familiar language, the grave of her husband, and all she could have enjoyed culturally, to travel a strange pathway to an unfamiliar place with little understanding of her future or what would confront her upon arrival. Yet she went, propelled by the love that walks two miles when only one is sought, at an almost total cost to herself.
We are called to this same place of shedding our safety and familiar things to that unfamiliar place of spiritual life and total reliance upon God: a walk into the unknown, like the children of Israel, but with the faith that God is in control at every step and is our everything.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for Ruth's determination to please her mother-in-law, despite the cost to herself. I know she was blessed eventually, and so will I as I walk the Way of Holiness, but please help me to keep abandoning my personal desires and, in preference, walk that unfamiliar pathway with you.