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“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you’ ” (Ruth 1:16,17).

THERE IS NOT IN THE SCRIPTURES A MORE BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSION OF FAITHFUL “FOLLOWERSHIP” THAN THE WORDS OF RUTH TO HER MOTHER-IN-LAW, NAOMI. Not knowing what the future might hold, she pledged to stay with Naomi and help her — no matter what might happen. And while this is a touching statement of the faithfulness of one human being to another, it reminds us of the even greater power and beauty of our commitment to God.

For one thing, Ruth’s commitment did not depend on whether it would be easy to keep. And just as Ruth’s commitment to Naomi was unconditional, our commitment to God needs to be so. We will surely fail in our discipleship to Christ if we’re not willing to bind ourselves with a do-or-die pledge of faithfulness.

All of the serious commitments in life are costly. They rarely end up being kept if we’re not willing to make significant sacrifices. Jesus had sacrifice in mind when He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What that cross will require of us, we don’t know. What we do know is that heaven will be worth more than anything it may cost us in this world (Mark 10:28–31).

It is obvious that Ruth loved Naomi very dearly — and her pledge to follow Naomi was motivated by a love that showed up in faithful action rather than mere feelings. In the end, it is only love for God that will hold us steady as we make life’s hard choices.

Most of us (or at least many of us) will do what is right in the big tests of life, especially if the test is public and other people are watching to see what we will do. But it may be that the truly “big” tests of life are the “little” ones, the many daily decisions that call for us to remember our promises to the Lord and faithfully do the best we can do. Over the long haul, that is how godly character comes into being. And that is how, if we are followers of Jesus Christ, most of the good is done that we hope to do in our lives.

“Faithfulness in little things is a big thing” (John Chrysostom).

Gary Henry — +

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