Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Loyalty: An Inner Beauty

One of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture, illustrating the exalted virtue of loyalty, is found in Ruth’s statement of love for her mother-in-law Naomi.

“But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, {or to} turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever 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. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if {anything but} death parts you and me.'” Ruth 1:16-17

Certain aspects of this relationship between a woman and her daughter-in-law strike me as especially notable.

The Selflessness of Naomi

Naomi had endured a great deal of hardship in a very short period of time. A famine had hit Judah, necessitating that the family of Elimelech go to the country of Moab to survive. While in that country, Naomi lost Elimelech to death. Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, had taken wives from the daughters of Moab, Orpah and Ruth. After ten years spent in Moab, both of Naomi’s sons died as well. Naomi determined to return to the land of Judah, the famine being over. Now, just imagine for a moment the grief and loneliness of this woman as she was about to undertake her journey. All alone, her family buried in a foreign land.

It is from this backdrop we read her entreaty to her daughters-in-law. “And Naomi said to her two daughters in law, ‘Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept” (Ruth 1:8-9). Others may have implored that they stay, but Naomi, even in the midst of her grief and loneliness, concerned herself with the needs of those two women she dearly loved. Truly, she put them before herself.

The Loyalty of Ruth

It would be wrong to say that Orpah was disloyal to Naomi by giving heed to her, and returning to her mother’s house. She did no wrong, and her actions are completely sustainable. However, the loyalty of Ruth, crystallized in the beautiful speech above, is remarkable. A young maiden, willing to go to a foreign land, willing to give up the ties of her past, because of her love of this godly and virtuous woman.

After returning to Judah, she went into the fields of Boaz, and gleaned barley, to feed and support herself and her mother-in-law. The character of Ruth serves as a sterling example to all women, and men, concerning the comeliness of loyalty to others.

The Reward of Loyalty

The ending of this story is familiar to all. Boaz married Ruth, she bore a son named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David (cf. 4:17). Thus a Moabite woman, a foreigner to Israel, became a link in the lineage of our Savior, Jesus the Christ (cf. Matthew 1).

Surely, this teaches us all the importance and rewards of fidelity and love.

Brethren, think on these things.