Daily Devotion | Day 326
“But Ruth said [to Naomi], ‘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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17, ESV).
Loyalty is a precious virtue and an essential aspect of love. A sure way to demonstrate love is to show loyalty. It is loyalty that makes you stick with people you love no matter their color, race, ethnicity, nationality, economic or social status. Loyalty distinguishes a true friend from a false one. Therefore, loyalty is the essence of friendship. Loyalty gives friendship the ingredient it needs to thrive. A loyal person is not in your life to use you or to take advantage of you. A loyal person is in your life to bond with you (heart and soul) and to be your companion through thick and thin – to the finish line. In your presence or absence, a loyal friend will not undermine your good name.
If people describe you as a loyal person, blessed are you. And if you have a friend who is loyal, you are fortunate because loyalty is priceless. In fact, because of their loyalty, certain friends are preferred over biological family. The Holy Spirit put it so well when He said, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
This series will look at Ruth as an icon of loyalty and draw inspiration from her story. We will divide the teaching into two parts. God willing, we will tackle the second part tomorrow. Let’s start by looking at some key facts about Ruth.
In the Bible there are only two books which are named after women. They are Ruth and Esther. This fact speaks volumes about the exemplary life of these women. Ruth is also one of only five women who are named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-16). The others are Tamar (v. 3), Rahab (v. 5), Bathsheba (v. 6; Matthew refers to her as “wife of Uriah) and Mary (v. 16). Another significant fact about Ruth is, she was the grandmother of king David (v. 5).
Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Over time, Naomi’s sons died. Previously, her husband too had passed away. Having no life left in the land of Moab, Naomi decided it was best to return to her homeland in Bethlehem of Judah. So, she bade farewell to her two daughters-in-law and urged them to stay in Moab where they had a better opportunity to regain a descent life. Orpah took Naomi’s advice and left. But Ruth would not leave Naomi. Every attempt to convince her otherwise proved futile. Not only did she refuse to leave, she vowed to stick with Naomi till death separated her from Naomi. Our opening Scripture (Ruth 1:16-17) captures that vow. It is breathtaking.
Ruth had nothing to gain from clinging to Naomi. In fact, she had everything to lose. Naomi had virtually nothing to offer her. At this point, the most reasonable option was for Ruth to separate from Naomi and seek a life of her own. Yet, she risked everything and stuck with Naomi. Ruth had come to love Naomi. She wanted to be a daughter and a companion to Naomi. She knew Naomi had lost her husband and sons. And she would not let Naomi lose her also. This was loyalty at its best.
Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi is for our inspiration and imitation. Love without loyalty is no love at all. Let us not betray friendship. Let us prove our love by sticking with our friends through thick and thin. Amen.
To be concluded tomorrow, God willing.
For further study: Ruth 1:1-22