Scripture Reading:  Ruth 1:19-22

“She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Lord Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.'” (Ruth 1:20,21a)

Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth, and the whole town was stirred by them.  When the women of Bethlehem saw Naomi, they said, “Is this Naomi?”  They knew something had changed about her.  It was not just her appearance; it had to do with a change of heart that produced a change of character and attitude.  There was something different about Naomi now that she had returned.

Naomi said to the women, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Lord Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (v. 20).  The name Naomi means pleasant and the name Mara means bitter.  Naomi stated clearly, “The Lord Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”  Naomi was not bitter.  She wanted her life to be a testimony to the fact that God used the dark experiences in her life to bring her back to Him.

The key to understanding Naomi’s change of heart is found in her words:  “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty” (v. 21a).  When she said, “I went away full,” she could not have meant full of material blessings.  There had been a famine and the family lost all they had.  She meant full of herself.  She had been a proud woman; but the Lord brought her back empty, empty of herself.  She knew that God had brought her back to Himself and to His people.  Naomi humbled herself before the Lord in deep brokenness.  God had great plans for Naomi.  He would bless her greatly as we will see.

All of us deal with pride; it is part of our fallen nature.  We want to be in control of things and we want to be noticed by other people.  However, God calls us to humility.  We must face our moral and spiritual failures honestly and humble ourselves before God:  “Humble yourselves , therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you” (I Peter 5:6).  Remember what James tells us, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  

We can never become humble without Jesus.  Look at Him; see His humility:  “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).  When we grasp the realities of the gospel, we will become broken people who will walk humbly before God and others.  We must have a change of heart; we must come before God empty of ourselves and we will receive blessing upon blessing.

Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a proud person.  Give me Your mind and let me become empty of my pride, so that I can serve You and others.  Thank You for the depth of Your humility that led You to empty Yourself so that You could die for me and redeem me.


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