But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Ruth 1:16 NIV
Loyalty can take many forms. There is The Godfather version where loyalty is motivated out of intense fear. In the military, loyalty comes from a sense of duty and respect for chain-of-command. The Bible actually includes examples of these types of loyalty as well as others, but the form of loyalty illustrated by the verse above teaches that the deepest form of loyalty is born out of devotion of the heart rather than an attitude of the mind.
The connection between Ruth and Naomi had been forged in the fire of shared grief. It is not clear whether Ruth was present at the death of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. We only know that Ruth was there to witness the death of Naomi’s two sons. Yes, they had become family by the marriage of Ruth to Naomi’s son, but the degree of loyalty that is portrayed in the above verse is far deeper than what would be expected from a daughter-in-law. While it is not clear if this loyalty was motivated by compassion or her own sense of lostness, what is clear is that Ruth was willing to sacrifice any semblance of a normal life to be with the woman who had been there for her.
We who study the Bible know that Ruth’s story was all part of God’s greater plan. Her willingness to return with Naomi to her home in Moab placed her on the radar of Boaz who, marveling at her degree of devotion to her mother-in-law, eventually marries her. They conceive a child together who becomes the grandfather of King David. From heartbreak, grief and sacrifice comes the realization of God’s perfect will.
The ultimate expression of loyalty is found where devotion is devoid of any hint of personal gain. There are, unfortunately, few occasions in life where we encounter the kind of person whose apparent sole purpose in caring is to be a blessing.
Perhaps we should consider giving up our search to find one—and just be one and show the world the beauty of a loyal heart!