Scripture Reading:  Ruth 1:6-18

“Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or 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.  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 1:16,17)

These words may seem familiar to you because you may have heard them at a wedding.  While the words are very touching and may seem appropriate for a marriage, they aren’t about marriage; they are about the power of friendship.

After the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem.  She had no reason to remain in Moab.  She was poor and was now a widow who had lost her sons.  She had no means to support herself.  When she was preparing to depart, Naomi gave her farewell words to Orpah and Ruth.  She urged them to stay in Moab and to return to their families.  We are told, “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again.  And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her” (v. 6).

Ruth’s words to Naomi clearly show that Ruth had come to faith.  She even used the covenant name for God — LORD.  Evidently Naomi’s life had made a huge impression upon Ruth.  Ruth must have seen the way her mother-in-law handled the tragedies in her life as she lost her husband and her two sons.  Ruth witnessed how Naomi dealt with suffering and she must have seen Naomi become more dependent upon the Lord.  The time Ruth had with Naomi greatly impacted her life.

We should never underestimate the power of friendships.  Our greatest spiritual growth will come through relationships with others.  People influence and shape the lives of other people.  Friends impact the lives of their friends.  It is in the context of deep relationships that we learn how to work out our faith.  Deep, trusting relationships are critical for our spiritual growth because godly friendships shape us, for we will become like those we spend our time with.  This is why Christian community is so important for believers.  We are not meant to be isolated Christians; we are brought into God’s family where we will learn and grow with others.

While we need godly friends who will stick by us, our greatest Friend is Jesus.  Ruth told Naomi, “May the Lord do so to me and more if anything but death parts me from you.”  Ruth did not have to die for Naomi; but Our greatest Friend Jesus did have to die for us.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.  You are My friends…” (John 15:13,14a).  Jesus did die for His friends but He was resurrected and He has promised that He will never leave nor forsake His friends.  He is with us always.  He sticks closer than a brother.

Lord Jesus, friend of sinners, I know that You died for me and I also know that you will never leave nor forsake me.  Thank you for choosing me to be Your friend.  I am also thankful for the earthly friends you have given me over the years who have helped shape my spiritual life.


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