We all know (and love!) the story of the Book of Ruth. Sweet, faithful Ruth, whose life seems over before it barely gets started, is given the joy of a husband and son. But did you know that the Book of Ruth teaches us a crucial lesson about marriage before Ruth even lays eyes on her future husband, Boaz?
Perhaps you’ll recognize this quote, “Do not urge me to leave you, or to turn back from you…” (Ruth1:16a NIV)
I know what you’re thinking: “But wait. That was Ruth talking to Naomi, her mother-in-law, not a husband….” You’re right! This is the part of the book where we all begin to love sweet Ruth! She speaks so kindly and ardently to a mother-in-law that she is no longer required to honor. So what does it have to do with marriage?
Consider this. Naomi and Ruth were both mourning, but Naomi was mourning threefold. The Bible tells us she was bitter. She was wounded on every side, homesick, lonely, discouraged – and it sounds to me like she was having a hard time forgiving God. She may or may not have been good and kind to her daughters-in-law, but regardless, she spoke to them in the first chapter of Ruth, releasing them. She told them to go home, that she could no longer care for them.
The scene unfolds on a dusty road that probably seems hopeless at both ends, but Ruth pushes past the brokenness they both feel and commits herself to Naomi forever. In a passionate proclamation, Ruth declares that she will stay by Naomi’s side, that she will not leave her, that she will care for her as family and more. But here’s the part we miss. Ruth did this beautiful thing for a women who was no longer her mother-in-law. She was simply a woman standing on the same empty dirt road. Ruth didn’t offer the loyalty of a blood-relative, she gave the beautiful gift of friendship.
Ruth’s heart of gold teaches us a mighty lesson for our marriages by her act of friendship toward Naomi. You see deep and abiding friendship is crucial to a strong relationship – including marriages.
Without friendship, we don’t look out for each other.
Without friendship, we don’t desire the very best for our spouse.
Without friendship, faithfulness is not a priority.
Without friendship, love can grow cold.
Without friendship, the long dusty roads we travel in this life truly are hopeless at both ends.
Ruth wasn’t bound to Naomi. The customs of her people did not hold her to her dead husbands mother, and even if they had, Naomi released her. Naomi urged Ruth to leave and forget about her. But Ruth refused. Ruth offered friendship and companionship. If you’ve read the Book of Ruth, you know how Ruth and Naomi’s story ends and you know that God honored Ruth’s commitment to Naomi. In the same way, God will honor the friendship you build with your spouse.
The truth is, marriage is hard, and most of us will face times of conflict in our marriage. Whether they say the words or simply act them out, many spouses will at one time or another, “urge” their spouse to leave. Maybe you’ve felt pushed away from your spouse, maybe your husband’s actions “urge you to leave.” Maybe you’re the one who does the “urging.” Maybe your heart has sent the message that you want your husband to leave. No matter which side you’re on, consider making the same vow Ruth did.
If your marriage is at a safe place right now, show this post to your spouse and speak the words to him, “Don’t ever urge me to leave or to turn back from you. I won’t do it. I’m yours and I will always be your wife and your dearest friend. Where you go, I will go.”
If your spouse wouldn’t receive this well at this point, simply say the words to yourself and begin to pray for a heart like Ruth’s, that no matter the grief, pain, bitterness or hurt you feel, you would forever bind yourself to your husband, as his wife and his dearest friend.
Tomorrow I’m sharing practical ways to encourage friendship with your spouse. Make sure you stop by and check out some great ideas!
Latest posts by Shirley (see all)
- The Why’s and How’s of Choosing Homeschool Curriculum - April 26, 2016
- Life Verses for a Radical Modern Faith - April 4, 2016
- Marriage And Friendship – Practical Tips for Becoming Your Spouse’s BFF - March 30, 2016