Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Since Melissa and Helene have been writing about the fruit of the spirit, I decided to read a story about women who exemplify these qualities.  I read the book of Ruth.  Most of you are probably familiar with this book: how a young widow leaves her homeland to follow her widowed mother-in-law back to her home in a foreign country.  Usually when we talk about this book, we talk about the book's namesake, Ruth.  We discuss her faithfulness and kindness and how her loyalty led her into the lineage of Christ.  Today, though, I don't want to talk about Ruth.  I would like to share some thoughts about her mother-in-law, Naomi.  

Due to famine in the land, Naomi, her husband, and their two sons leave their homeland, Judah, to sojourn in the foreign land of Moab.  Moab was not a godly nation.  Ruth 1:15 mentions the gods of that land.  This was a pagan nation in which Naomi found herself.  While there, her husband dies, her sons marry women of the land, and then both of her sons also die.  She encounters one trial after another, but Naomi never loses her faith in her God.  Although she was far from home with no man to help her, as soon as she heard that God had once again blessed Judah with food, she prepares to return home.  Her faith was so evident in her life that one of her daughters-in-law makes the proclamation in Ruth 1:16, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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."    Naomi had apparently led her life in Moab in such a way that led to Ruth to glorify God.

The fact that Ruth wanted to follow Naomi and her God not only tells me of Naomi's faithfulness to God, but also says a lot about the kind of mother-in-law Naomi must have been.   Many women do not make life easy on their son's wives, and to complicate matters, Naomi's sons married women from a different culture and language.  I know from experience that foreign daughters-in-law do not make life easy on their in-laws.  They speak strange languages and teach their sons strange ideas.  This can make life very difficult on a mother-in-law.  In her frustration, she can make it difficult for her son's wife to integrate into the family circle.  Part of the reason that this story touches such a chord with me is because I do not share a common culture or language with my mother-in-law either, yet she has taken me into her family and loved me as Naomi did Ruth.   Although the text says very little about the way that Naomi treated Ruth, I believe that Ruth's words tell the story.

In addition to the qualities already mentioned, in the later chapters of Ruth, Naomi exhibits a tremendous amount of kindness and wisdom in helping Ruth find another husband.  Naomi could have been bitter and jealous regarding Ruth remarrying but she chooses to look out for Ruth's good.  In Ruth 3:1 she says to Ruth, "My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?"  With patience and gentleness, Naomi tenderly guides Ruth in the foreign customs.

I hope that I can learn from Naomi how to be a better Christian woman, and one day that I might be the sort of mother-in-law that she was.    

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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