Summary: Seeing love in the story of Ruth
One of the things we realize is that often we don’t love like we should. We’re not good lovers! Now, you might think you’re a pretty good lover -- at least your spouse thinks so. You show affection well. You give nice gifts to family members. You provide well for your family. You have meaningful conversation with others. But just how good are we at showing love? To help answer that question, we want to look at a love story today. The story of Ruth.
Turn with me to the book of Ruth, which is found on page ___ if you’re using one of the Bibles in the seat racks. We have been going through the OT, looking at the way God prepares a people for himself. Last week we looked at the book of Judges, and we saw an age of Chaos. A time when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes. The Jews had drifted away from following their God. And as a result, it ruined their lives. They went through several cycles of judgment for sin.
Right in the midst of that period, we find a beautiful love story. Humans are suckers for love stories. Especially for love that overcomes great obstacles. They make great “chick flicks” - the movies that you love to watch with the one you love. Let’s review the story of Ruth -
And the story goes on - you know the rest - Ruth meets Boaz, Ruth marries Boaz - They all live happily ever after. There are a lot of lessons in Ruth for us - lessons about God’s redemption, about God’s provision for his people, about God’s timing - but the key lesson we want to look at briefly is the power of Prevailing Love.
As we look at the story today, keep this one question in mind: How well do I love?
In the book of Ruth, we see over and over again the concept of unconditional love. First, we see
1. We need to love regardless of conditions - It tells us this all takes place “In the days when the judges ruled.” This was a day when “everyone did that which was right in his own eyes” - as we see the phrase used over and over again in the book of Judges. Remember the “judges” were political / military / spiritual leaders who God raised up to deliver the Jews from times of oppression. But as soon as the Judges died, the Jews went back to their own ways again.
Yet, in a day when everyone is focused on “Himself”, we see love expressed for others over and over again. We see Ruth being willing to forsake her idols (for the Moabites worshiped the idol Chemosh), forsake her family, forsake her homeland, and go with Naomi wherever she went. We see Boaz, willing to give of his wealth, for Ruth and Naomi. We see Boaz totally rearranging his life to commit to taking Ruth in marriage, and with that came the care of Naomi as well.
We live in a society today that teaches us to look out for Number One. We love to show kindness and generosity when it fits in our schedule. If there is a fundraiser golf tournament, or if the company we work for is helping on a habitat for humanity house, we will get involved. But sometimes we don’t like to get involved when it is inconvenient for us.
Normally the times we need to show love the most are times when things are the messiest. A husband and wife are going through a divorce, and even though neither one really has a good reason, they get divorced. Either one or both turn to us, so what do we do. We can either avoid them, because it makes us uncomfortable, we can judge them and walk completely away from them, or we can show them unconditional love -- never justifying what they did or trying to ignore the wrong that was done - but being there as a friend to show them love.
It’s interesting that we never see Boaz or any of the Jews making snide remarks to Naomi - “If only your boys would have married good Jewish girls this would have never happened to them.” Instead all he has for Ruth is praise for her godly character.
2. We need to love regardless of culture - Ruth was a Moabitess. She is from the land of Moab, to the Southeast of Israel. And when we look at the time this is written, to have Ruth’s son be the grandfather of King David, whom we see in 1 Samuel, this is probably written somewhere near the beginning of the time of the Judges. Remember during the rise of Ehud as a deliverer, the Jews faced 18 years of oppression from the Moabites.