Summary: At Christmas we are often entertained with amusing stories of sacrificial love such as "It’s a Wonderful Life" and "The Gift of the Magi". In the Word of God we find a true story of sacrificial love demonstrated by a woman named Ruth.
Sacrificial Love Ruth 1:11-18
Introduction: At Christmas we are often entertained with stories of sacrificial love. We are all familiar with Jimmy Steward’s role in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Steward, the hero, lives his life for others and when his back is against the wall and he is about the kill himself he ends up saving Clarence, the wingless guardian angel. In response Clarence grants the wish that all desperate people make, "I wish I had never been born." Yet in the end he is willing to sacrifice even that wish to help others. Some of us might remember O Henry’s "The Gift of the Magi," a Christmas story of sacrificial love. The characters are a husband and wife who take desperate measures to buy the other a present. Unfortunately, the wife sold her hair to buy her husband a watch fob, and the husband sold his watch to buy his wife a comb. While these stories are fiction, In the Word of God we find a true story of sacrificial love demonstrated by a woman named Ruth.
I. Ruth’s Sacrificial Love
A. Due to a famine in Israel, Naomi had moved with her husband and two sons to the land of Moab in search of food. Her sons married two women who are not Jews but Moabitic women, Ruth and Orpah. In a tragic series of events, all three of the men die. Naomi, widowed and sonless, decides that since the famine had ended in Israel she would return home. Concerned for their welfare, Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to find new husbands among their own people and make new lives for themselves, even though that would leave Naomi completely and utterly alone in the world. Orpah does leave Naomi. But Ruth makes a profound commitment out of sacrificial love and faith.
B. Ruth 1:16-17 “But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and 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 will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."
C. Ruth had everything to gain by returning to her Moabite Family.
1. She would be among her own relatives, childhood friends and people, the Moabites.
2. She likely would be able to find a Moabite husband.
3. Like Orpah if she returns to life among the Moabites, she would most likely find acceptance at the temples of Chemosh and the other Moabite gods.
4. She would be going home.
D. Ruth had everything to lose by remaining with and caring for Naomi.
1. The chances of her ever having a husband as Naomi were negligible as she was advanced in age. Listen to what Naomi says to her daughters-in-law.
• Ruth 1:11-13 “But Naomi replied, "Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me."
2. She would face prejudice and hatred as a woman from a despised people, the Moabites. The Jews hated the Moabites and held them in contempt.
3. She would have to turn her back on her religious upbringing to embrace the God of Israel.
E. Ruth was willing to give up her all out of the love God placed in her heart for her mother-in-law. Ruth was willing to leave everything she knew behind, in order to follow her mother-in-law into a foreign land and care for her. She would embrace the faith of Naomi and worship the Lord God. What a display of sacrificial love she showed here! She obviously viewed Naomi as someone who deserved her love and respect. And she was willing to do anything to prove that.
F. Because of Ruth’s trust in the Lord God and her sacrificial love, at Bethlehem, God orchestrates a beautiful love story that results in Ruth’s marriage to Boaz and becoming the great-grandmother of David and in the human lineage of Jesus Christ.
II. God’s Sacrificial Love
A. Bethlehem is the source of another demonstration f sacrificial love. For it was there that God brought the Sacrificial Lamb, Who would become the sacrifice for our sin, to be born in a manger.