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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

To Never be Ruthless Again

The Bible tells the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman who stuck by her mother-in-law's side when nearly all had been lost. Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi, was an immigrant Jew living in Moab to avoid a famine in her land. She and her husband had built a life together in Moab and seen their two sons marry local Moabite women. As the years passed, Naomi's husband and both sons died, leaving the women with no one to provide for them or protect them.

Naomi decided to return to Judah, where she heard there was food again. Ruth was given the option of returning to her own family, her own people, but instead she chose to stay with Naomi.

Ruth 1:16 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. 17 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.”

I've been reflecting recently on who we decide to attach ourselves to. Naomi was homeless, grief-stricken and bitter. She couldn't have been much fun of a travel companion as they made their way 60 or so miles back to her place of birth. She had left her hometown as a member of a close-knit family and returned just a shell of who she had once been. Most people in Ruth's situation would cut their losses and hope for a new start, but Ruth was determined to keep her wagon hitched to Naomi's, no matter the cost.

Human nature seems to gravitate towards egotism, over altruism. People are more prone to try to catch a ride on a rising star than make their bed with the beggars and the outcasts. Who we associate with, who we connect ourselves to, is telling. Are we looking to benefit from an acquaintance? Are we hoping their good luck will rub off on us? When someone loses all their advantages, all their privilege or power, do we draw closer, or draw away?

Many generations after Ruth, a descendent of hers humbled himself, identified with the lost and the needy, hung out with the poor and disenfranchised. Instead of exalting in his own position; or surrounding himself with the powerful and pious, Jesus hung out with lowly outsiders.

Philippians 2

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

The Free Dictionary defines ruthless as being without compassion or pity, merciless. Even though it's not part of the origins of the word, I find it interesting that the piece that speaks of compassion and mercy is Ruth. Let's remember her today. Let's chose to operate in compassion, in humility. Let's chose to align and ally ourselves with the hurting, with the bitter and those who grieve. Let's purpose in our souls to never be RUTHless again.

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