The book of Ruth is about love. I imagine many of you had Ruth’s declaration of love for her mother-in-law Naomi read at your wedding. It’s a beautiful passage. But if we read the book of Ruth merely as a love story, I believe we miss some important lessons God wants us to see. The first is this:
Love is more than words. If you look at Ruth you see a woman whose love made the choice to leave her family and follow Naomi and Naomi’s God. Ruth left everything familiar to her, and willingly went to live in a country that very well could have considered her an enemy. But her love for Naomi was stronger than any ties she had to her former life, and she showed her love – not just with those beautiful words – but by choosing Naomi over anything else.
Love is self-sacrificing. You never see Ruth demand her rights. She never acted like Naomi owed her something for the “sacrifices” Ruth made for her mother-in-law. Instead, when Naomi told her to do something, Ruth obeyed every detail without complaining or without thought for her own comfort. She went and worked a step below a servant because she and Naomi needed food. To me she is an example of someone who emptied herself of herself, which is totally opposite of today’s philosophy of life and love.
Love is courageous. When Ruth went to Boaz at night, she put her reputation, the possibility of rejection, and her very life on the line. She knew she was doing the right thing for herself and Naomi, but doing the right thing came with risks. Ruth had the courage to go to Boaz because of love.
I think you could read Ruth’s beautiful declaration of love all day everyday, but the words themselves are meaningless unless that love is lived.
Let me just say that if you are thinking about getting married, I pray you love and are loved like what we see in the book of Ruth. This kind of love is more than words or feelings. The question is not, does he (she) make me happy. The question is, am I loved in the details of life, in the hard times as well as the good. Is my welfare more important than a video game or a shopping spree? And, even more important I think, do I love that person like that, too.
If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions – run! Marriage is hard enough without the added complication of a love that isn’t genuine, active, self-sacrificing, and courageous.
But let me ask us all this question. Do you (do I) love God with this kind of love? Do I show Him I love Him, or am I satisfied with saying the words to Him when I pray? Do I love others like He told me to? Do I obey Him without question? Do I choose Him above anyone and anything else? Is my love for God self-sacrificing and courageous?
I think that’s what God would have us take from the book of Ruth. Love is not a feeling so much as it is a lifestyle, a choice to live love. I want to love God like that. He deserves that kind of love.