Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth.
-- Ruth 1:3-4, ESV
The most difficult lot in this life falls on a single mother. This was true back in the old days of the Old Covenant, too, at least for a woman named Naomi. Yet she persevered in faith and love and without her, humanly speaking, our world would not have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.
Naomi's life was marked by loyalty, and she inspired loyalty in others. Naomi went away from Israel out of loyalty to her husband, Elimelech, who may have not been the sharpest knife in the drawer. He led his family out of Israel and wound up in an early grave in Moab. Naomi knew better than to leave the homeland in a time of crisis, but she stayed true to her husband until his end.
Marital loyalty, "until death do us part," used to be the standard before the sexual revolution and divorce culture took over. The vast majority of social ills and rise in crime can be traced to this change. Loyalty matters, to one another, and especially to God. A hallmark of the Christian life is to be loyal to God, to go where He says go, to stop and return when He calls for repentance, to accept what He gives, and to trust in His name. Naomi's life was marked by loyalty, and you see this same loyalty in her more famous daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Naomi's life was marked by friendship, and she inspired friendship in others. Naomi was not just a mother-in-law to Ruth, she was a friend. She was apparently the kind of person that other people wanted to be around. When she readied to return to Israel, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, clung to her. When she arrived back in Israel after a 10-year absence, she had not been forgotten by her friends. She must have been a good friend to them.
Another hallmark of the Christian life is to be a friend to others, to be someone that others can count on. Naomi's life was marked by friendship, and you witness that kind of friendship in Ruth, too. Are you a godly friend to your family, fellow church members, and neighbors?
Naomi's life was marked by honesty, and she inspired honesty in others. She was a loyal friend because she told people the truth. She was honest with people, and with God. She must not have been a gloomy person, but neither did she wear a fake smile. Ruth learned to be honest, too. Are you honest with your family, friends, others? Are you honest with God?
Naomi's life was marked by faith, and she inspired faith in others. Naomi's character was contagious. The most important thing she passed on to her daughter-in-law, Ruth, was her faith in God. Though she lived in a pagan land, Naomi maintained a genuine, vital faith in the God of Israel. She worshipped God with her husband, sons, and taught His laws to her daughters-in-law. After her tragedies caused her to leave Moab and head for home, she pessimistically yet honestly challenged Ruth to go back home to her old way of life and old gods.
But, Ruth remained with Naomi. Why? Because she saw in Naomi a faith that was real and a God who must be! We must so live for God in the midst of a pagan land that those who we come into contact and relationships with will be drawn to our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!
Naomi's life was marked by the cause of Christ, and she furthered the cause of Christ in others. When Naomi led Ruth to the Lord she had no idea what God had set in motion. Ruth became a member of God's covenant people and married Boaz. They had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David, who would have a descendant named Jesus!
I would say that Naomi made her life count for Christ, wouldn't you? Her life on earth has long been over, but we can look and see what a difference she made for God and God's people! We need to live our lives in such a way that we put a mark on people's lives for the Master, that our lives make a difference for Jesus Christ!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].