We’ve all heard and read of the Proverbs 31 woman. How we would all love to be like her, right? But I’d like to propose the Ruth 1 woman for you to consider.
Ruth says to Naomi in Ruth 1:16-17, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall by my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”
I’d like to paraphrase the above and apply it to your life today. Could you say the following (or something similar) to your women friends within the Body of Christ?
“Wherever you go in your struggles in your faith walk, I will go. I will support you. unconditionally. Wherever you go in your victories, I want to be there as well. Wherever you lodge and dwell in your spiritual life, I want to lodge and dwell there as well, supporting, encouraging, exhorting and loving you right where you are at. The people, concerns and issues close to your heart will be close to my heart. I will get under your burdens and bear them with you. Your God is my God. The Lord Jesus is your Lord, and He is my Lord as well. I do not look upon my friendship with you as, “What can I get out of it?” Rather, my attitude toward my friendship and relationship with you is this: How can we serve the Lord together? What can we accomplish together? I declare my loyalty and friendship to you until death parts us. From the day we met to the day one of us crosses over into eternity and our earthly friendship ends, I will be your devoted, loyal and loving friend. I proclaim this today to you in the presence of our God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I believe that this kind of friendship is almost “sacramental” in nature. Sadly, it is too rare within the church today. A sacrament is a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality. Devoted friendship, like Ruth’s friendship with Naomi, is sacramental in action and serves to express and/or increase devotion to God Himself. I believe that if we start embracing our women friends within the church as Ruth embraced Naomi, our communities, our neighbors, our families, our non-Christian friends, this very world, would all sit up, take notice, and desire what we have as servants to each other and to Christ.
Recently, I determined to give up part of my day to help a friend with a small task. It was really a simple sort of thing, easy for me, but it meant the world to my friend. It was a very conscious act on my part to devote part of my day to my friend and her concerns and issues. My life was set completely aside for a few hours so that I could be totally at her service.
A few weeks later, I was needing help to re-paint my daughter’s bedroom. I so wanted to surprise Hannah with a re-decorated bedroom while she was in Venezuela on a mission trip. My daughter had the paint picked out and the bed ensemble already purchased, but unfortunately, a nagging sore shoulder prevented me from tackling such an ambitious project. Well, to make a long story short, the room DID get painted...by one of her close friends who had been unable to find a summer job! Kerri loved getting the work (we paid her), the walls got new paint, and my daughter had the surprise of her life upon her return!
During that work week, as the room was taking on new colors, I sensed that God had not forgotten my devotion and labor on behalf of my friend. Was this painted and completed room a reward, if you will, for my "sacramental" loyalty and devotion to my friend? Luke 6:38 is true, ladies, even in the arena of friendships! “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
What was Ruth given in return for her sacramental loyalty and devotion to Naomi? A husband (Ruth: 4:9-13), a son (Ruth 4:13), and she became an ancestress of Christ (Ruth 4:17-22).