In part one of Ruth, we saw how Ruth’s mother-in-law was filled with bitterness about the experiences that she had in life. She endured a famine, a move to a foreign country, the loss of a husband, and the loss of both of her sons. When she arrived back in Bethlehem to resume life there- she said that she was returning bitter and empty-handed (even though Ruth was with her)
Ruth is a secondary character in the first chapter- but a powerful one. If Naomi is a picture of bitterness in the face of trials, Ruth shows us the opposite. She has lost her husband, has no kids (no male heirs), no property, and no prospects of another husband related to her deceased one.
Her mother-in-law, Naomi, tries to persuade Ruth (and Orpah) to return to their families to restart their lives there. Orpah returns while Ruth stays- saying:
“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. 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.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV)
Ruth tethers herself to her mother-in-law, making an oath to care for her through death. This statement is powerful because to do this- it means leaving behind her old life. She will leave behind her parents, any siblings, her friends, her customs, her religion to begin a new life with Naomi. And where Naomi needs to leave some things behind (bitterness)- Ruth is choosing to leave behind the old life for the new.
Ruth is a powerful illustration of our life with Jesus. The call to discipleship- to be a follower of Christ- is the call to leave behind the old life and follower wherever Jesus leads us. Paul writes:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
In Christ we can experience a new life; we experience a transformation where the old life is gone. Where we are dead to sin but alive in Christ.
Are there things that we need to leave behind? Are we still holding on to part of the old life? Have we experienced transformation through the grace available in Jesus Christ?