“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.””(Ruth 1: 16–17).
Ruth was a Gentile and lived in the land of Moab. She married an Israelite who moved to the fields of Moab to escape the great drought. It so happened that all the members of the family died without leaving any heirs. Ruth lived with mother-in-law Naomi and mother-in-law Orpah.
Finding herself in this situation and hearing the news that LORD had come to the aid of her people and provided them with bread, Ruth’s mother-in-law decided to return to Naomi’s home. And then she said to her two daughters-in-laws: “Go, turn your mother home.” Naomi was sorry for her daughters-in-laws, who had to live in a family without no hope for the future, where they have no more husbands. She advised them not to follow her to Judea, but to return to their homeland. Orpah left her mother-in-law crying, but Ruth was still clinging to her husband’s mother.
Naomi demanded that Ruth follow Orpah’s example and return home. Ruth, however, explained that the real desire of her heart was to follow her mother-in-law, which she confidently said. Her words are eloquently conveyed in the book of Ruth (1: 16–17): “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.””
What a wonderful and loving confession! We can feel Ruth’s sincere love for her elderly mother-in-law. Naomi had no hope or support in her life, so Ruth’s love and promise to stay with her for the rest of her life was especially dear to her. If Ruth had thought only of her own interests, what would she have done?
She would probably have argued with her mother-in-law a few times, saying that she would not leave her, and eventually justified her decision with her mother-in-law’s persostence. But Ruth had a good heart that did not fail. What a consolation it was for her mother-in-law!
What a support it was for Naomi when she saw that Ruth, who was not her own daughter but only a daughter-in-law, wanted to serve her sincerely, even though her son was no longer alive.
1. Ruth’s choice is to perform her duty, regardless of loss or gain
It was Ruth’s choice: to perform her duty not only for her own benefit, but also when she had to sacrifice herself.
One aspect of goodness that we study in Ruth’s example is “goodness to do our duty.” This means that for a person, fulfilling one’s obligation is her natural state, for her it is important. Children should serve their parents, brothers, love each other, and young people should respect the old. If people go down this path, in the right direction, we can say that they are doing their duty.
Can we say that Ruth was good because she did what a person is obligated to do? First, Ruth decided to do her duty even if it didn’t promise her any good.
And it was her choice – to sacrifice herself for the sake of commitment. Ruth did not have to follow the mother-in-law, but could have returned to her homeland, where she had relatives. She could remarry and live happily with her new husband. What future did she submit to when deciding to follow her mother-in-law?
For Naomi, the land she went to was her home, but for Ruth, it was a foreign land. There was no clarity about where they would live there. Besides, since her mother-in-law was already elderly, all the responsibility for maintenance fell on Ruth’s shoulders. In addition, when Naomi dies, Ruth would be left alone in a foreign land, without a husband and children. The situation was, of course, serious.
The consequences of her choice – to stay or leave – were very controversial, but she had to make that choice. And it was quite obvious that one path led to suffering and the other promised a happy life.
Realizing this, Naomi advised her daughter to go after her happiness, not to succumb to suffering. But Ruth didn’t think about it. She did not calculate what she would win and lose; boldly following a lonely mother-in-law, serving her, and performing her duty.
Can you make a choice in favor of duty, that is, do the same as Ruth in a similar situation? In the world in a large family with many children, conflicts can sometimes start around one problem: who takes care of the parents. When parents have Alzheimer’s disease or another serious illness, they need constant care, which makes the situation even more difficult. The younger brothers are in conflict with their older brothers, confident that they should take care of the parents. The eldest of the brothers says that he alone cannot cope with it and that everyone should share the responsibility with him. But if they performed their duty with a kind heart, all problems would be solved peacefully.
Many members of our congregation voluntarily care for the elderly by solving their children problems. And I am very grateful to them for that. However, it is the responsibility of children to lead their parents on the path to salvation. It is a real grace to fulfill one’s responsibility not only in the family but also in the workplace.
Our church members sometimes ask me, “I was offered a better paying job, what should I do?” They ask me this because before they choose what is good for them, they want to understand: are they following God’s good will? I usually ask them: will your departure hurt your current employer? If this company helped you, you learned a lot, you became a good professional and you are entrusted with a responsible work, you should not even think about which decision is right. If you are considering another job, you should not harm the company that has benefited you so much. But if you give up your favor by believing in God to do your duty, God the Father will give you so much more.
The same is true of faith. We see people who perform their duties with a good heart grow faster in faith. Those whose hearts are kind and grateful for the grace of the Lord and the love of God the Father, who saved them from their sins, are confident that it is their duty to live according to God’s will.
Having learned that it is God’s will to keep the day of the Lord, people will stop working on Saturdays by doing God’s will. It may seem to new believers that refusing to work on Saturday will hurt them, but pure-hearted people who do God’s will think, “The Lord saved me, how can I go against His will for my own benefit? ” It’s the same with tithing.
If you do your duty with a good heart, you are not saying that giving tithe is a waste of money. When you experience God’s grace through the Holy Spirit, you will realize that everything you have belongs to God and then giving tithe of your income, as God tells you, is not a burden to you, but a testimony of your faith.
Rather, you are tempted to make greater donations than tithing, depending on gratitude. Therefore also those who have believed, those who have a good heart, keep the day of the Lord and give tithes already at the beginning of their walk of faith. Because they do their duty with a good heart and because their heart is full of goodness, they grow rapidly spiritually. When they have made their choice to follow God’s will, they will do their duty, and God will surely allow them to experience something that will strengthen their faith, because the path they choose is the path that leads to blessings.
2. Ruth performed her duties sincerely and honestly, not just out of a sense of duty
Another reason we consider Ruth is because of her sincerity and honesty in the performance of herduties. She did it not only out of a sense of duty. Ruth followed her mother-in-law to Judea, and while faithfully caring for her mother-in-law, she did not regret her choice.
As soon as she arrived in Bethlehem, Judea, she had to find food. Fortunately, it was time for barley harvest. Ruth began to glean behind the harvesters. Although Ruth worked all day, she did not collect much. But she was glad to be able to serve her mother-in-law, and she did so with full dedication.
The Bible also describes how Ruth respected her mother-in-law and sincerely cared for her. Gathering the leftover grain all day, she brought them to the mother-in-law and spoke in detail about everything that happened during the day. Ruth served Naomi with great love and devotion. She tried to understand what was in her mother-in-law’s heart, and act accordingly. Naomi also loved Ruth with all her heart. She considered her as a daughter.
The people of Bethlehem knew Ruth from her actions and praised her. Eventually, she was redeemed by an influential man named Boaz, a relative of Naomi, who married Ruth. Ruth received enormous spiritual and material blessings. She gave birth to Boaz a son, Obed, who later became David’s grandfather. Thus, despite the fact that Ruth was a Gentile, she is written in the offspring of Jesus Christ.
People with a good heart do not stop doing good deeds. Since God’s good will is to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, to live a life worthy of a human being, we, like Ruth, should do good works with an unchanging heart.
Doing good deeds consistently in any situation means doing the perfect will of God the Father. Therefore, it is very rare to meet a person whose activities are full of goodness from beginning to end.
This idea is reflected in the expression: “In the case of a long-term illness, only a few sons prove to be good.” No matter how much children take care of their sick parents, if the illness lasts a long time and they therefore have to spend a lot of money, their initial attitude towards sick parents will change. Their love and compassion for them diminishes. Difficulties in caring for sick parents are also expressed in words that break the hearts of loved ones. Parents are sorry because they consider themselves to be a burden to their children. Children who publicly express their concern about the situation are hurting their parents.
How do parents react to such a situation? Some are frustrated, others angry, saying, “You know what I had to go through during your upbringing, so how do you treat me like that! ” Of course, children have a natural duty to serve their parents, even if they have to sacrifice something for it. As for parents who deal with children, how should they treat their children and with what heart should parents take care of them in order to be full of goodness and love?
There is one story that makes us think about it. It’s about Koryo Zhang. “Koryo Zhang” is a rule that was applied in some parts of Korea. It was strictly stipulated that people over the age of seventy should be taken to the high mountains and left there.
In one of these areas lived a son and his seventy-year-old mother. The son did not want to leave his mother in the mountains at any cost, but he had to obey the law. One day, the son invited his mother for a walk and took her on his shoulders. His mother understood what was really going on and that herson had inadvertently lied to her, but she did not oppose her son. It was a long walk, during which they stopped several times to rest. The mother was very worried that the son was tired and might get lost when he went home, because the son, carrying his mother on his back, looked only at his feet. She began to break branches and mark the way with them. Eventually they reached their destination, and at sunset the son said to his mother, “Mom, stay here. I’ll go home and get you some dinner.” The mother, knowing that her son would leave her, said, “Can you find your way home? If you get lost on the road, go along the broken branches that I broke from the trees on our way here. ”
Although we do not know if this is a true story, in today’s world, as the love between children and parents grows cold, it can be instructive. If you truly love, you will not hesitate to do your duty, and that is natural for you. From many stories of the past, we can find stories of those who, with true love, walked the right path until death, without even knowing God. How, then, should we, as children of God, as those who know God and the Truth, behave differently?
By the grace of the Lord we were saved from eternal death and received the promise of eternal life. A person is obliged to repay the grace received from Him. And even now I send occasional congratulations to the pastors I served with before I became pastor myself. Our spiritual Father is God and we are His children. I would like you to test yourself to see if you are fulfilling your responsibilities as children of God by doing what He pleases. Pastors and other church workers in particular who have dedicated their lives to ministry should test their hearts to see if they have changed somewhere in the middle of the journey. Have you always been on the path to life with gratitude and joy, even in the face of hardships and troubles?
In his book (3: 17–19), the prophet Habakkuk testified, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.For the director of music. On my stringed instruments. ”
I ask you to firmly believe that God the Father will give you the best as you faithfully fulfill your responsibilities as a pastor, servant, church member, and child of God and thank Him for the grace you have received.
On the example of Ruth, I spoke of providing goodness through the performance of duties. And I gave two reasons that make Ruth’s actions virtuous, even though it was her natural duty to take care of her mother-in-law. The first reason is that she fulfilled her responsibilities, knowing that she would not gain anything from it herself, but rather had to sacrifice herself. The second reason is that she served the mother-in-law not out of a sense of duty, but faithfully and sincerely, with an unchanging heart and mind. I think you should put yourself to the test to see if you serve your family members with the same kind heart.
Galatians 6: 6 also says, “ Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” Therefore, I would like you to put yourself to the test: are you fulfilling your natural responsibilities to those who offer you spiritual bread? But first you must fulfill your responsibilities as a child of God. If none of you fulfill your responsibilities to your family members, you cannot say that you are committed to your responsibilities as a child of the Spirit.
1 John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
So, I pray in the name of our Lord that you, like Ruth, may find your goodness in fulfilling your duty and receive the grace that God has prepared for those who are good.