But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Loyalty and faithfulness are amazing traits to see in action. The willingness to covenant with someone – to promise to be there with them and for them through all that life brings – that is an amazing thing to see. When two people are able to love one another and continue to live out of that love for an extended period of time, it is an impressive thing to see. Who hasn’t been impressed and filled with joy for people celebrating a fiftieth anniversary? Who isn’t amazed to see the faithfulness of a spouse who daily visits a sick and aging partner in a nursing home every day? Who doesn’t admire the person who is willing to be helpful to an aging parent, even when the work threatens to eventually exhaust them?
Ruth’s commitment to her mother-in-law is an amazing thing to witness. Here, because her mother-in-law has actually told her to leave, Ruth’s faithfulness has to exceed a threshold and be willing to persist. It involves courage, risk, dedication and an abiding love and commitment.
We admire these things because they are what we long for and receive from God in Jesus. Scholars agree, that while we often use the phrase “we are saved by faith,” that the Bible really emphasizes that we are saved by Christ’s “faithfulness.” When he could have bailed on us, Jesus stayed the course, living out of God’s love for us no matter what the cost.
When we are able to love others through thick and thin, we are living parables. It is a chance to embody the love we see and receive in Jesus and pass it on to someone who needs it most. May each of us be faithful and loving to those who need it and, when we need it, may we have someone there to love us faithfully as well.