Ruth's Radical Choice: The Relevance of Choosing God Today
In the first chapter of the book of Ruth we meet Naomi and her family. There is a famine in their home country, so they go to Moab to find food and survive. Once there, Naomi’s husband and two sons die, and she is left alone with her daughters-in-law. After the famine in her homeland was over, she decided to go home. She told her two daughters-in-law that they should stay where they were; it was, after all, their home. But one of them, Ruth, did not want to stay in Moab. Here is where this story picks up and we read the following.
14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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. Ruth 1:14-16
What is God telling us in these two verses and is it even relevant today? Yes, this is very relevant today, and God is telling us that we have a choice to make-just like Ruth.
To understand what God is saying, we must read carefully what Ruth is saying. She tells Naomi that her mind is made up and that she will do four, life-altering things:
1. She will go with Naomi and not stay in her homeland. This means she will have a change of customs and traditions as well as a new language. Everything will be new to her, and she will be a foreigner in her new home.
2. She will live, or lodge, where Naomi lives. She would make the home of Naomi’s home her home. She is giving up one way of living and taking on another. This was a big change for Ruth.
3. She will change her people. This is odd to us today; it means she is rejecting one culture and its standards and choosing another.
4. The God who rules in Israel, the one true God of the universe, she will accept as God. She will no longer worship the gods of the land she was born in.
Changing who we worship as God is big. It impacts how we think and everything we do. Why is this the case? What we often miss in the church at large today is the existence of God’s moral law. God has given us a way to live that separates what is right in God’s eyes, and what He considers is wrong. What we do and how we think and live must reflect the presence, or absence, of God in our lives.
God has a different way of looking at things, and He expects us to think the way He does, and to act accordingly. Not only that, but He will tell us how to live and what He expects. For example, in Isaiah 30:18 we read that God will put a word in our ear whenever we get off the path God has appointed for us.
Not only does this change how we live right now, but it also changes our view of the future. We all have a future in God; it is called destiny. Rather than just living in the moment and looking for a pleasurable experience right now, we should think about how our actions will impact people tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and even many years from now.
In Ruth’s life we see this change in thinking very clearly. What she was doing caused her to get married and have children. Those children became the ancestors of King David (she was King David’s great grandmother), and, many years in the future, of both Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents.
Whatever decisions we make today will change what happens tomorrow. And all the tomorrows after that. We should see in the example of Ruth how to live and what it means to give up the gods of this world, and all the selfish and destructive behaviors they encourage, in exchange for following the one true God of the universe. It means to know that Jesus, who is God, came to earth not only out of love for us and for our redemption, but, because of His love and redemption, to change how we live.
So, enjoy reading the great story in the book of Ruth, and take its lessons to heart.