“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’” (Ruth 1:16). These words are heard often at Christian weddings. Indeed, the words Ruth spoke sound great coming from a Christian groom to a Christian bride and vice versa. They eloquently voice the commitment that any marriage must have to last.
They were spoken originally by a Gentile, Ruth the Moabite, to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, a sad young widow to a sad older widow. Ruth’s late husband, Mahlon the Israelite, had come to Moab during a famine in Israel and married her there. But he, his dad, and his brother all died, leaving three widows. Naomi, the older one, decided to go back to Israel to try to survive. Orpah stayed in Moab. When Ruth spoke the words above in a generous and sacrificial commitment to the older woman, she revealed her servant heart. She was willing to let go of her culture, relatives, ancestral religion, and property, all to provide support for a vulnerable older woman whom she loved.
When they got to Israel, Ruth appealed to Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer (see the previous devotion), and he accepted his responsibility. He acquired a tremendous wife and life partner.
I completely understand why so many Christian parents name their daughters Ruth.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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