Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ruth 1:14 – 17
Courage, Commitment, and Clarity

The book of Ruth is about a woman who demonstrates what many feel are extraordinary qualities and characteristics. She becomes the “great-grandmother” of King David (who also displays these qualities).
In this passage there are three characteristics modeled by Ruth that can help us become extraordinary mothers.

I. Courage to face the unknown.

A. “Where you go I will go.” [v 16]

1. The only thing Ruth knew about Israel or Bethlehem would have been:

a. Word of mouth (rumor) and Moabite prejudices.

b. The life of Naomi and here family.

2. Ruth did not know the culture or religious beliefs.

a. Except what she had seen and heard from her husband and Naomi’s family.

b. Probably not impressive.

B. “Where you stay I will stay.” [v 16]

1. She probably did not know much about the conditions she would be moving into.

a. Israel, at this time, was constantly raided...

b. Economic conditions were typically poorer than more organized countries.

2. They did not have a home to move to and Israelites hated Moabites (because of their history). Of course the feeling was mutual.

C. Courage challenges the need for security.

1. Security is an important priority.

2. The security issue can be a symptom of the lack of trust (either the inability or a specific individual).

II. Commitment to be unconditional.

A. She did not set conditions!

1. Some people are “conditional.”

a. The “if” clause sets conditions based on the “right” things happening. [I will love you if I am happy.]

b. The “but” clause sets conditions based on the wrong things happening. [I will love you but if I get unhappy, then I’m gone.]

2. Conditions are based on SOMEONE else.

a. This means:

1.) The person setting the condition will not have to take responsibility (always have someone else to blame).

2.) The person will always have an excuse (“boloney stuffed in the skin of reason” – unknown)

b. Conditions are others-based and centered on external circumstances.

1.) This guarantees eternal misery and problems.

2.) Fairy tales have a literary devise of a “magical” solution.... In other words, the FALSE solution is always found outside the individual. (e.g. Prince charming, fairy god-mother, wishing star, etc...)

(Ill.) A little girl hears the story of Cinderella at school. Excited she tells the story to her Mom. When she gets to the end of the story, she ask, “do you know what happens then?”
Mom: “Yes, the live happily every after.”
Girl: “No, silly. They get married.” [Unknown]

(This is better ending because Cinderella is not depending on someone else or circumstances for her “happily every after.”)

***** As long as you are depending on someone or something other than God, in this fallen world, you are going to be disappointed. *****

B. Unconditional means being willing to follow.

1. These are fighting words!

a. Dr. Phil’s philosophy: “Empower women.”

1.) Based on the idea that all men are ignorant at best or idiots at worst. (Truth: we are scared and confused.)

2.) Based on the idea that all men are bad. (Truth: as sinners ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is possible.)

b. On second thought: What else is there when men refuse to live by biblical principles. (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself.” Ephesians 5:25, 33a)

1.) “Needy” women set themselves up as targets for predators of all sorts.

2.) It doesn’t take much to spot one... You don’t need to be a psychologist to profile an unhealthy dependence person.

2. Following or serving is not weakness.

a. Jesus had another name for it: “leadership.”

“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" [34] But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” [Mark 9:33 – 35]

b. The fact that we can not get our minds around this shows us just how messed up we are about the concepts of following and leading.

III. Clarity to be unmovable.

A. Clarity of conviction.

1. “Your God (will be) my God.” [v 16]

a. This would mean she had a lot to learn.

b. This would mean she had to overcome the prejudices.

c. This meant a shift in comfort.

1.) It can be uncomfortable to learn new things (especially in religion).

2.) New forms of worship can be uncomfortable.

2. “Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.” [v 17]

a. Ruth commits to a life to “life plus a day.”

b. There is no turning back.

c. Contrast between clarity (stable) and double minded (unstable).

B. Clarity of conviction comes from one place: Conversion.

1. A solid faith in God places us on solid footing in life.

2. Acknowledge separation, Believe that Jesus died/rose again for your salvation, Chose to follow Jesus.

IV. Conviction to unswervingly trust God.

A. “May the LORD deal with me.” [v 17]

1. Her oath was based on the LORD.

a. Not a law. (A law never stopped someone from behaving badly... it only gives society a legal means to retaliate.)

b. Not a human.

c. Ultimately we are accountable to God (the LORD) and we find our lives in God.

2. Her oath was not based on her past, it was based on her future.

a. She must have had some sort of conversion experience.

b. This was a personal choice, not based on obligation (Naomi released them from any obligations).

B. This choice made Ruth special.

1. “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation.” [Deuteronomy 23:3]

2. “All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.” [Ruth 3:11b]

3. “And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” [Ruth 4:17b]

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