Introduction

We often make many choices in life, some of the choices are major, like where to stay and where to migrate. Others are simple, like “Where to for lunch?”. Sometimes in order not to to make a choice, we like to say “Its up to you”

Indeed everyone had the freedom to choose, but we all must bear the consequences of our choices. That is why we need to choose carefully, for a good choice will bring us blessing and a bad choice will bring us pain and regret. We can try our best to fix the result of a bad choice but there are some damages that are irreversible. 

The bible records of many bible character as well as their choices. Some of their stories serves as warning to us, there are also stories where we can learn from .For some of these characters make good choices, and some bad ones.

The Dilemma Of Ruth And Oprah

Today we will look into the book of Ruth, where it records of 2 women and their choices.

“Now they took wives of the women
  of Moab: the name of the one was
  Orpah, and the name of the other
  Ruth. And they dwelt there about
  ten years.  Then both Mahlon and
  Chilion also died; so the woman
  survived her two sons and her
  husband.: – Author of Ruth (Ruth 1:3-4)

“Turn back, my daughters;
  why will you go with me? Are
  there still sons in my womb,
  that they may be your husbands?
  Turn back, my daughters, go—for 
  I am too old to have a husband.
  If I should say I have hope, if I
  should have a husband tonight and
  should also bear sons, would you wait 
  for them till they were grown? Would 
  you restrain yourselves from having
  husbands? No, my daughters; for it
  grieves me very much for your sakes
  that the hand of the Lord has gone out
  against me!” – Naomi (Ruth 1:11-13)

Ruth and Oprah met with sad events in their lives, their husbands was dead and the lost the love of their lives. Since woman at that time depended on man for survival, they lost their financial support in lives as well.

As a result, they were both facing the same test, and they need to choose how to spend the rest of their lives. They are cross between whether to return with Naomi to Israel or to return to Moab and remarry. They know that if they return to Moab, they could survive at the very least, the roads back to Israel is a long and difficult path.

If we were them, what choice will we make? Both women made a different choice, and lets read about them.

The Choice of Oprah

“Look, your sister-in-law has gone
  back to her people and to her gods;
  return after your sister-in-law.”- Naomi (Ruth 1:15)

Naomi told them to return to their people and their gods. Therefore Oprah made a choice to let go of her faith and return to her country.

Interestingly, the 2 women encounter an experience that was very unique to Moabites. For they were given a chance to become an Israelites and to know the God of Israel. In those days Moabites were forbidden to enter the assembly of God (Deut 23:3) . But when these two women married Israelites, they were given a chance to enter that assembly. they received this faith through marriage. 

Yet they face difficulties and it appears as if God did not protect them. They lost their husband and they lost their livelihood. They must be wondering if they should continue on the journey of faith.  That is the reason why Oprah gave up and return to her people and her god.

Perhaps Oprah made up her mind because she felt that she could do nothing to change the situation. So she accepted the situation and left not blaming anyone for her misfortune.

The Oprah Attitude

Sometimes we make decisions just like Oprah, for there are many situations that are beyond our control. Some of us live in a war zone, where life is unstable and unsafe, there are others who live in peaceful countries. There are some who are born into poverty while some are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. There are some who are poor and need to work hard to survive. There are also some who are born beautiful with many suitors and people to love them, while some are born ugly, hideous and no one to care for them. Indeed these are not within our control and we have to accept it no matter if we like it or not.

That is the attitude of Oprah, She chose to let go because there’s nothing Naomi could do to help her. Even though she loves Naomi, she chose to let go of her mother in law and her new faith.

If we are faced with a situation like Oprah, what will our choice be? Will we choose to give up our faith? Ruth on the other hand, made a different choice. 

The Choice of Ruth

Ruth was faced with a the same situation and the same test. Ruth was aware of the choice of Oprah, for Naomi encouraged Ruth to follow her example. But Ruth made up her own choice. She chose to hold fast to their faith.

She wanted to take care of Naomi even if it means a bitter life. This is clearly seen in her response to Naomi

“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 be 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.” –Ruth (Ruth 1:16-18)

Some of us will wonder why Ruth choose to do this, for it appears to be an unwise decision. For she had chosen the bitter and difficult path. In the eyes of many her choice appear to be foolish.

But history testify that Ruth made the right choice and it is a choice that brings eternal blessing. Her name was recorded in the genealogy of Christ. But how was she able to take this bitterness? How did she find her strength? 

The Strength Of Ruth

She had strength because she had faith, for in the past Ruth did not know the one true God. She used to worship whatever they see. For humans are made with a desire to worship God , for God created mankind and we call him our father.

If one were to worship the true God, they will receive blessing,  and Ruth knew the true God, he is YHWH who created the entire universe and man. He was the God who made the promise to Abraham and he promised that his people will become a great nation.

Ruth believed in that promised, and she chose to follow God. Even though at the moment it appears as if there are no benefit and only bitterness. But she persist because she knew that Gods promises are true. She have fought so hard to become part of the Kingdom of God and she is not willing to let go of her faith and her opportunity to be part of them.

That is why she said “Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” She wanted to be part of that kingdom, and she believed in the judgement of God. Ruth did not focus on the bitterness that lies before her eyes, but she saw the true blessings that will come in the future.

She regarded the trouble before her to be insignificant compared to eternality. For the most important thing is how one would meet God and face judgement.   That is why she said “The Lord do so to me, and more also,” 

Ruth knew that God was watching her as well as her choices. She could not leave Naomi for Naomi would be helpless if everyone left her. Ruth had the right to consider her well being but she is also aware of her duty to Naomi.

Indeed we all have our rights to choose, but God is watching the choice we make. He will judge us according to our choices.  Ruth choice testify of her faith in God as well as her love for Naomi.

This type of faith and love moves us for she chose to hold on to God and take the difficult path. Her faith became the strength that allow her to face difficulties and to overcome them. She is able to keep the faith because she knew that if she hold on to God’s hand God will hold on to her as well. Her love allows her to hold on to the hand of Naomi and she went through suffering together with her.

That is The Choice Of Ruth

The Result Of The Choice Of Ruth

The faith and love of Ruth allowed her to receive blessing from God. Her blessing are recorded in the latter part of Ruth

“Also the neighbor women
  gave him a name, saying,
  “There is a son born to Naomi.”
  And they called his name Obed.
  He is the father of Jesse,
  the father of David.” – Author Of Ruth (Ruth 4:17)

Ruth gave birth to the son, and his name is Obed, he is the father of Jesse, the father of King David. It was David who established the kingdom of Israel, and God fulfilled his promise to Abraham through David. For he promised that his descendants will become a great and mighty nation.

Ruth is the great grand mother of David and more importantly she is one of the ancestors of Christ. The choice of Ruth is one that carries a strong impact in her life. It turned her from a Moabite who was forbidden to enter the assembly of God to an ancestor of a great Israelite king. Her faith and love resulted to her being blessed by God.

The choice of Ruth is recorded as an example for us to follow. For we have contrast the choice of Oprah and the choice of Ruth.  Therefore whenever we encounter troubles and difficulties, let us not be ignorant, we can choose to be like Oprah, and say “There is nothing I can do about it” or we can choose to be like Ruth who made the right choice.

These are all recorded in the bible as lessons for us. 

Examination Of Faith

Let us now take the chance to reflect on our faith. and let us ask ourselves if we have the faith of Ruth. For Paul once reminds us.

“Examine yourselves as to whether
  you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
  Do you not know yourselves, that
  Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed
  you are disqualified. “- Paul (2 Cor 13:5)

Examining the faith is not about commenting on the faith of others. It is a reminder for us to examine ourselves, to test our faith to see if it is true. For there are some who appear to have a strong faith would still choose to let go of their faith for the slightest reason. They choose to leave God at the slightest quarrel or disagreement with a fellow brethren. But is our faith built upon emotions and relationship with people in the church?

Emotions and love are part of faith but they are not faith. Therefore we need to be sure of what we believe in and who we believe. Therefore we need to test our faith to see if it is true, for we will be disqualified if we do not.

We need to be sure that we are indeed true believers or a Christian by name.

If one day, we are without the protection of God, we are unable  to see miracles and are without bread to it. Can we still believe in God in such difficulties? Why then do we follow the Lord?

When Jesus was preaching, there were many who wanted to follow him. they are all sincere but how true is their faith? Once Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves of faith and 2 fishes, there are many who followed him. They needed that miracle and they needed that bread, so they believed in Jesus.

“you seek Me, not because you
  saw the signs, but because you
  ate of the loaves and were filled.” – Jesus  (Jn 6:26)

Jesus gave us his love and protection, he gave us miracles out of his love, but are we following Jesus because of his miracles? What if there are no more bread? Can we still follow Christ?

That is when many choose to depart from him. That is why Jesus said

“If anyone desires to come after Me, 
  let him deny himself, and take up
  his cross daily, and follow Me.”- Jesus (Lk 9:23)

If we are unwilling to take up the cross and to face our challenges, we cannot persist in faith. It will be hard to follow Jesus. On that day where many who left Jesus , Jesus asked

“Do you also want to go away?”- Jesus (Jn 6:67)

Jesus wanted to his disciples to examine themselves to see if they truly believed in Jesus. If they believed , they will follow him even if it is through a path of suffering. 

At that time Peter answered him

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have
  the words of eternal life. “- Peter (Jn 6:68)

The disciples recognised that Jesus is indeed the messiah, and he is the one they should follow. If we have the same understanding we will be as steadfast as Ruth. If Ruth did not have faith in God, in his promise and eternal life, she will have followed Oprah and return to her tribe and her gods.

Let us emulate that same faith like Ruth.

The Faith Of The Church In Thessalonica

The faith of Ruth is similar to the faith in the book of Thessalonica.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, 
  making mention of you in our prayers,  
  
remembering without ceasing your work
  of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope
  in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of
  our God and Father,

  And you became followers of us and of the
  Lord, having received the word in much
  affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,  so
  that you became examples to all in Macedonia
  and Achaia who believe. “- Paul (1 Thess 1:2-3,6-7)

The Church of Thessalonica brought joy to Paul. they church undergo much tribulation after their conversion. Paul was worried that they will lose their faith, so he sent many workers to visit the church. The reports of these workers brought joy to Paul. For they kept their faith and hope in the midst of troubles. they have manifested their love in the midst of suffering, and that is why they are special.

The church was able to show love for others, and they gave beyond their ability. Once when they heard of a famine in Judea, they offered to help the church. Even though they have little to eat, but they empathized with their brethren in Judea who had nothing to eat. So they brought their little contribution to Paul to be sent to Jerusalem. Their loved moved Paul for they are able to help others poorer than them. The church became good examples to those in Macedonia and Achaia.

The faith of the church of Thessalonica is just like Ruth. They are able to show the joy of faith, their love with endurance. IT is that faith that allow them to be steadfast and persistent.

Conclusion

It is faith that allow Ruth to see, that even though she cannot change the situation. But faith could change her attitude towards life. Even though we encounter difficulties, Faith can help us bear with the trouble, it can give us the strength to help others.

Having faith can give us strength upon strength, endurance to the end. It will help us face our troubles positively.

There was a painter who came to a house to do a painting and when he arrived, he saw that the owner of the house was a blind person. He felt a little sad for him, for it is a pity that he is blind and he cannot see. Yet he found the owner, optimistic and humorous. He show no sign of pessimism and they started to talk while he was drawing.

When the painting is completed, he gave the bill to the owners wife. and he said “Though we have agreed on the price, but there were more work than i expected. Therefore i change my price”

The wife saw the bill and was puzzled “Why did you decrease your bill instead of increasing it?”

The painter replied “I have a good time with your husband, his attitude in life help me realise that my situation is not as bad as I think. It makes me feel that the work is not as bad as I thought. I would like to express my thanks, therefore I have decided to reduce my bill as gratitude.”

When the wife heard it, she took a look at her husband and her painter, her eyes went red, for one of them is blind and the other was without a hand. They all encounter unhappy events in their life. These are all things that brought inconveniences and trouble in life. Yet they choose to face it with a positive attitude.

We cannot change the length of our lives, but we can change the contents within our life. We cannot change the face that we are born with but we can choose to put a smile or to put on a frown.

We may not know what will happen tomorrow, but we can make use of what we have today. We cannot expect our lives to be smooth sailing, but we can put in effort in whatever we do.

For when Christ comes again, he will not ask us what we have accomplishment. It is human nature to measure success by what one have accomplish. But Jesus is different, he is only interested in how much effort we put in doing his work.

It doesn’t matter if we have 5,2,or 1 talent. For Jesus will only measure the effort we put in. In life, we will face with many tribulation. Just like Ruth who is faced with many difficulties. But can we be like her to hold on to a steadfast faith.

If we are enduring and patient, we can make the right choice. Eventually we will find our names written in the book of life. May we enter the kingdom of God and may we all make the right choice in our faith.

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