"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'" (Ruth 1:16)
Someday, after this life is only perhaps just a memory,
you’re going to be rewarded for what you have done on this earth. As “Michael
the great prince” (Daniel 12:1) said to Daniel the Prophet, “You
will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the
age” (Daniel 12:13). But to simply become alive once again is not enough.
We need more, for Jesus pointed out that some who do return to life will be “cast
into the furnace of fire,” a place of eternal suffering where “there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42). Fortunately
Jesus continued His statement: “the righteous will shine
forth as the sun…” (Matthew 13:43). Some will be with the Lord and in His
love – forever.
Two groups exist within humanity, together now, but they
will soon be separated. One of them has their way presently, but will suffer after
this life. The others are likely to suffer now, but in eternity will find joy.
What’s the difference? The answer is – faithfulness!
Jesus COMMANDED us to “be faithful,”
even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10). When you and I acquire a dog as a
pet, our intention includes that the dog will obey us. They will not run away,
or bark when we don’t want them to, or dig up our rose bushes. We want them to
be – faithful! We are much more than “pets” to God, but His concern about us is
similar. We are to be faithful to God, faithful to one another.
Jesus said we must be “born again”
(John 3:3, 7) in which something of God Himself enters us and begins to grow
within our very being. His love enters and so does His faithfulness, which is
better than any “faith” we might generate on our own. We enter a new dimension
of living; no longer operating out of mere duty, but instead acting out of His
love in us.
Without His love, we grow weary in our faithfulness,
which begins to fade and ultimately it passes away. Only God in us, through the
Person and Power given through the Lord Jesus Christ, will enable us to finish
the course. George Horne, an English bishop who lived in the 1700’s, said: “When
men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them faithful to
each other will be much disappointed.” We live in a time when men and
women, boys and girls, are placing their faith in the wrong “gods,” such as
movie stars, gang leaders, selfish politicians and worst of all – themselves.
But fortunately for us all, there are some within humanity who are faithful.
Mother Teresa was a person who had genuine faith in the
Lord, and she proved it by her faithfulness to others. Jesus showed us the
faithfulness of God by healing the sick, one person at a time. He healed at
least hundreds during His brief time on this earth. He was and is – faithful.
His faithfulness included His death on the Cross, in which He died for you and
me. James said, “Show me your faith without your works and
I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). He also said, “faith
without works is dead.” (James 2:17).
Mark Hatfield, an American politician from Oregon, told
of touring Calcutta, India, with Mother Teresa and visiting the “House
of Dying,” where sick children are cared for in their last days. It is a
place where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical help. Watching
Mother Teresa minister, feed and nurse those who were left by others to die,
Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her
co-workers faced daily. He asked, “How can you bear the
load without being crushed by it?” Mother Teresa replied, “My
dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.”
She trusted in the Lord and as He led, she reached out to others.
Mother Teresa faithfully helped thousands of people.
From the record in the Book of Ruth, our Scripture for today, we find that Ruth
was faithful to one person, her mother-in-law. Naomi's husband had died
and then her two sons, including Ruth’s husband – all three of them died in the
country of Moab. Naomi’s daughters-in-law were both Moabites. Naomi essentially
told the young women to, “Go back to your homes in Moab – I will return to my
home in Bethlehem,” where she hoped to be taken in by her family.
Bethlehem was a difficult fifty-plus miles from their
location in Moab, and Naomi was an older woman who would walk that journey
alone. The one daughter-in-law said “Goodbye” and went home. Ruth, however said,
“wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I
will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God" (Ruth
1:16). And she continued, “Where you die, I will die, and
there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also, if anything but
death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:17). Naomi saw and accepted her
determination and off they went to Bethlehem. Ruth was faithful.
Ruth could have stayed with her people, where they spoke
language in a way she truly understood and they dressed in a way that was more
familiar to her, but off she went, on a very different journey, to a place she
did not know, to a people who were not her people. Why? Because of FAITHFULNESS
to her mother-in-law! Mother Teresa was faithful to thousands; whereas Ruth was
faithful to one. How is it then that a whole Book of the Bible (the Book of
Ruth) was dedicated to Ruth, who was faithful to and cared for just one person?
Ruth also would become the wife of Boaz, the grandfather of King David, and she
would be an ancestor of the Messiah. What is the lesson of Ruth for you and me?
For one thing, God does not merely think in terms of
numbers as we do. Many think that if you help thousands or millions you’re doing
something great, and by contrast, to help just one person seems embarrassingly
small. But God does not think like that. If He places you in a situation where
you can help just one person and you accomplish the task He has set before you,
He is just as pleased as He is with the one who successfully helps a multitude.
He called them to the multitude and he called you to
just that one person. The issue is not how big the task is, but how BIG our God
is. He is the One who brings the good work to pass. Not you, not me, and not
even the Mother Teresa’s or Billy Grahams of this world. They are simply willing
to be faithful to the call of the Lord, and it’s time for us to be willing also,
for we are called to our spouse, our family and to that person next door. Let’s
Lord, help us to be like Ruth, who was faithful. Let us
trust in You and be willing to share Your love. Thank You that You are with us
in all that we do. In Jesus Name. Amen.