We love because He first loved us.
The book of Ruth is one that I love dearly because there is so much to be learnt from it. This book offers some key lessons when it comes to the topic of love, and I would challenge you all to prayerfully read it! We learn that love requires us to be kind, love requires us to be selfless, and love requires us to commit.
Firstly, love requires us to be kind, (v9,14).
Kindness is love in action. We see in this passage that Ruth weeps with Naomi (v9,14). She is full of sorrow for her, despite losing her own husband at the same time. Ruth displays agape love, we see this manifestation of the heart and love of God through her actions, her kindness.
So often we spend our days rushing around, and as an added bonus we attempt to be kind to others. Maybe so we feel like we are ‘good people’, or ‘good Christians’, or simply because we want to be liked. But, as demonstrated by Ruth, how often do we take the time to weep with our friends? To take the time to listen and invest into their lives… that their sorrows become our sorrows. Do we have such deep love for others that we weep with them, and our hearts break for them? I think as we accept God as Lord of our lives, and we experience Him pursuing and loving us, we are then able to do so for others. In a way that is a radical witness to the person of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, love requires us to be selfless, (1v21).
In verse 21, Naomi is telling the whole town how God has taken everything from her and that she is returning with nothing. Note, Ruth is stood at her side as she says this. While this is quite humorous, its also a profound lesson and challenge. We have just read moments ago Ruth’s words (v16-18) that she will go where Naomi goes, accept her people as her own, worship her God, and die with her. Yet, Naomi is so bitter and consumed by her own self pity she is unable to see the gift God has given her, Ruth. Amazingly, Ruth does not seem upset by this, the reason being that her love for Naomi was not rooted in self-interest, but God. Her mindset was not, what can Naomi do for me, but what can I do for Naomi. Because she has allowed God to have kingship over her heart she is not upset or discouraged by Naomi’s ungratefulness, lack of recognition or thanks. Her love for Naomi is of God, therefore she does not need Naomi to love her back. I think this is where so many of us become discouraged and give up, we need to look deeply into our hearts and figure out where our love for others is rooted. Is it in self-interest, or selflessness? In other words is our love for others completely rooted in ourselves, or God?
Thirdly, love requires us to commit. (1v16-18).
Ruth lays down her everything for Naomi. This is a challenge for us to. Are we prepared to give up our location, people, time, and trust in what we know to follow God? Because we love Him, to love others? To love effectively, relationships must be built. Jesus taught this through His ministry. He ate, lived and met with people to build relationship. This takes commitment and time. To invest in the lives of others and remain committed to them is counter cultural, and an incredible example of God’s love for humanity.
Biblical love is not the glamorous picture of love that the world paints for us. The love we are taught about in the Bible is far from that, it is the giving up of time, money and popularity; it is leaving what you know or where you feel safe to do what God has called you to do; it looks like forgiving over and over again; it looks like loving people who are rejected; standing up for what is right despite opposition, or what people may say. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate act of love, dying on a cross to take away what separated us from God’s love, sin. This love requires kindness, selflessness and commitment.