And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. 15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. 18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. Ruth 1:14-18 (KJV)
As I read today’s text, it struck me that although Naomi had two daughters-in-law, and both witnessed her devotion to her God, only one of them (Ruth) followed after her. No matter what kind of testimony we hold fast to, sadly not every one of our family members will accept our beliefs.
The condition of the heart of each individual is what lays the foundation. I think of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 11:13-23) and how the seed (the Gospel) fell on different types of “ground.” The same holds true in today’s text. Rachel and Orpah’s hearts were different. One clung to her religious upbringing while the other was teachable – she was open to truth.
Orpah went back to her people AND to her gods. No matter how much she loved her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:14), it was not enough for her to part from her religious upbringing. Hearts must be like fallowed ground ready to be touched by the seed of the Gospel.
I have so many relatives who are determined to follow after their religion rather than God’s word – they are no different than Orpah. Their religious leaders are taking them straight to Hell and they are blindly following. (Matthew 15:14) They have a responsibility to search the Scriptures themselves but they will only search out what their religious leaders guide them in. (John 5:39) How can learn any truth when the only direction they are being given is full of lies?
Ruth had no idea what was going to happen to her but yet she has observed Naomi’s testimony long enough to know that her God would be there. She did not know that once she got to Bethlehem, her Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth 2:20), her future husband, would be there. But yet she went – what great faith!
As well, Ruth was a very hard worker (Ruth 2:2-3). She cared for her mother-in-law; she could have sat back but she didn’t. Her steadfastness brought grace in the eyes of Boaz (Ruth 2:11-12). Her meekness and humbleness brought her even more blessings (Ruth 2:15-17). What a beautiful depiction of someone with a teachable spirit! She didn’t understand all that was about to happen to her but yet she knew enough to listen to Naomi and follow her instructions. Why? Because Naomi’s God had made Himself real in Naomi’s life and Ruth was tender enough to see it. Her faith in Naomi’s God was great and the Lord blessed her!
We may not be able to win each of our family members. But our testimony is all we have. If their hearts are fallowed ground ready to receive the word of God, the Holy Spirit will use your testimony to plant a seed. Don’t be discouraged! I’m sure it ached Naomi’s heart terribly to see Orpah, in a lost condition, go off into the distance. But what joy came out of her when Ruth accepted her God and He blessed her for it! Stay constant, Christian! Don’t lose ground – someone is watching!