By Published On: June 9th, 2022Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

Read:  Ruth 1

Love may be the most loaded word in our vocabulary today.  I would venture to guess that it is used every day by almost everyone. The definitional gamut that this single word covers is sensational.  It’s used to describe everything from our deepest affections for another person to our favorite brand of cereal.  
I can love the latest album dropped by my favorite musician and love my little girl who I would jump in front of a train for.  Would I jump in front of a train for a copy of my favorite album?  Maybe a signed copy?  Of course not. In fact, prior to the existence of instantly downloadable music, I doubt that I would have traveled more than an hour (maybe two) to find the store that had this album.  So why would I use the same word to describe how I feel about music that I would not inconvenience myself more than an hour’s car ride to retrieve and the person for whom I would lay down my very life?  It is no wonder that our culture is confused over what love is and is not, and that the word love is so often misused.
Henry Scougal, a pastor and scholar in England from the 1600’s, described perfect love this way:
Perfect love is a kind of self-dereliction, a wandering out of ourselves; it is a kind of voluntary death wherein the lover dies to himself, and all his own interests, not thinking of them, nor caring for them any more, and minding nothing but how he may please and gratify the party whom he loves…
This is not a love that has limits.  This is a love that gives until it is exhausted of every resource it owns until its very life is spent.  This is the kind of love that calls to our deepest longings for purpose, peace, and fulfillment.  
This is also the kind of love that we see in the person of Ruth.
In this first chapter of Ruth, we are introduced to an Israeli family from Bethlehem that has fled to the country of Moab to escape famine.  The sons find wives from the country of Moab, but their blissful life is cut short because the sons die leaving their Israeli mother Naomi desolate along with her widowed daughters-in-law.
In an act of selfless mercy, Naomi tells them to leave her and return to their Moabite families who would be able to provide for them.  She knows how difficult the remainder of her life is going to be.  She is a widow with no family left to take care of her, and she is beyond the age to remarry. She will be left to beg and glean in other people’s fields for sustenance, and she does not want that for her daughters-in-law.
But what she does not know is that Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law goes beyond dutiful allegiance.  Her love for Naomi is not limited to her ability to provide a decent life.  No.  Henry Scougal would probably describe her love as a perfect kind of love.  You can hear it in her words as she tells Naomi that she will not abandon her:
“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. 17 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 is willing to suffer or even die if it means that she can remain with Naomi.  What kind of love is this?  This is the kind of love that Jesus exemplified in His death where He, the lover, dies to Himself and all of His own interests (think Philippians 2) and offers His perfect life to atone for our wicked, sin-riddled lives.  
Take a moment to wonder at this portrait of love that is painted in Ruth 1.  Doesn’t it call to you?  Doesn’t it make you want to weep?  Sing?  Give thanks?  Find and give that kind of love?  This is the love that we are invited into by Jesus Himself in John 15.  Read this verse slowly and allow it to fuel your worship to God this Sunday.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.