The Lord has afflicted me: the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me. So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law.Ruth 1:21-22
Naomi, her husband, and her two sons left Bethlehem because of a famine and moved to Moab, hoping to thrive. While there, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Afterward, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and tried to persuade her two daughters-in-law to not follow her but to return to their own people. Perhaps you have heard Ruth’s plea to her mother-in-law, Naomi: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. (Ruth 1:16)
Ruth and Naomi had grown close over the years, but the deaths of her husband and sons had turned Naomi into a bitter woman. When Ruth and Naomi returned to their home in Bethlehem, Naomi gave voice to her bitterness. By her own admission, she asked to be no longer called Naomi but Mara (meaning bitter). Her bitterness did not make her lovable.
Ruth had been at Naomi’s side through the same depressing turns their lives had taken. As Naomi repeated her stories to anyone who would listen, Ruth was forced to relive her own painful loss. No one would have faulted Ruth if she had fled Naomi’s company. Perhaps she would not have even been faulted if she had complained. Instead, Ruth loved Naomi, and it was shown by her actions. She traveled with Naomi, provided for their needs, listened to her, and heeded her advice. By the time Ruth handed her newborn son to Naomi, her mother-in-law had experienced a heart change.
If God’s providence puts us in close quarters with unpleasant people, may we love them by listening, respecting, and taking care of their
Pray for your own heart. Ask God to soften your heart towards the difficult person, to put off anger and irritability, to put on meekness and kindness, to understand the person’s struggles and meet them with compassion (Colossians 3:12–14). Pray for them. Move toward them, not away from them.
If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”Luke 6:32-38
Lord, help me to honor the difficult people in my life so that Your love is made known. Amen.
In His grace,
❧Women of Faith series