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A true worshipper forsakes self (Ruth 1:6-22)

“Not long after the death of her two sons Naomi determined to return to the land of Israel, having heard that God had sent relief from the famine. She did not consider Moab her home, but was drawn back to the place in which the sanctuary of God was found. Her two daughters in-law Ruth and Orpah, purposed to accompany her, both apparently intending to live with her in Israel. Naomi, however, sought to dissuade them from coming by pointing out the sacrifices they would be making and the benefits they would be leaving behind. Her intent, like that of Joshua in speaking to the children of Israel, was evidently to ensure that if they choose to adhere to the God of Israel, it was with a full understanding of the cost involved.

Orpah, whose name means ‘gazelle’ was swift to fly back to her people and their gods. She loved Naomi, but she loved the idea of personal comfort better. But Ruth could not be dissuaded. Her words of commitment provide a pattern of the sincere conversion of a true worshipper of God. Though it meant moving to a strange land, among unknown people, with an uncertain future, and leaving behind all that she had ever cherished, Ruth was determined to make Naomi’s people her people, and Naomi’s God her God.

What stands out in the account of Ruth’s conversion is the total absence of self- seeking motivation. One reason it stands out is that it is so contrary to the spirit of modern evangelicalism, which promises health, wealth, peace and happiness to would- be converts, who are then taught and expected to seek self- fulfillment in worship. C.S. Lewis, in his book ‘Surprised by Joy,’ writes of a realization that dawned upon him during the progress of his conversion. That realization was that ‘ It is more important that heaven should exist than that any one of us should ever go there.’ The true worshipper is not one who seeks God in order to be gratified, but the one who seeks only that God should be glorified.” (Comin, 73-74)

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