I have six other siblings but growing up I often felt alone. I didn’t cling to any of them, didn’t want to show my need for them, and since we moved so much growing up, I didn’t cling to friendships either. I prided myself on my ability to take care of myself and not need anyone. I kept myself busy and social so I never had to feel alone, but deep inside I felt lonely and misunderstood.
One thing I’ve learned about friendships is you can choose to be lonely or loyal. In the story of Ruth and Naomi, Ruth chose to be loyal no matter what and it paid off greatly in her life. Do you cling to people or push them away? Do you tend to choose loyalty or loneliness when you’re going through something hard? Learn to choose a life of loyalty by studying out these Scriptures.
Going it Alone
9 I hope He will bring you new husbands and that you will find the rest you deserve in their homes.
She drew close, kissed them, and turned to go on her way, alone. But Orpah and Ruth wailed and sobbed, crying out to her.
Orpah and Ruth: 10 Do not leave us! We insist you take us with you to live with you and your people.
Naomi: 11 Go back to your homes, my daughters. What possible reason would you have for returning with me? Do you think there are more sons inside of me? Will you marry these unborn sons? 12 Listen to me, daughters, and go back. I am too old; I will not marry again because I cannot conceive. But even if I could—if I still believed there was hope for me, or if I had a husband and conceived sons tonight— 13 would you waste a lifetime waiting for them to grow up? Would you let this hope for the future keep you from remarrying now? Of course not, my dear daughters. It is obvious that the Eternal has acted against me. My life is much too bitter for you to share with me.
Ruth 1:9-13 (VOICE)
Naomi lost everything. Earlier in the chapter her husband and two sons died and she was traveling back to her hometown with her daughter-in-laws. She was initially planning on taking them with her and then had a change of heart. She was thinking of their needs, their future and wanted them to have a home and husband that they deserved.
Naomi tried to be alone. She tried to convince the girls she was not worth staying with. Have you ever tried to be alone? When you’re trying to be alone you think thoughts like: I don’t want to hurt anyone with how miserable my life is, let me keep my misery to myself.
Naomi was bitter about her life, and her bitterness drove her to isolate. The problem is, misery doesn’t go away in isolation, it only grows. What pain in your life has driven you to isolate? Maybe it’s the pain of a physical or emotional health challenge, or an insecurity you feel. Or maybe you handle hardship by holding it in and not wanting to be a burden to others. Recognizing that you’re going it alone is the first step to choosing loyalty over loneliness.
Pushing People Away
14 At this Orpah and Ruth wailed and wept again. Then Orpah kissed Naomi, said goodbye, and returned the way she had come. Yet Ruth refused to let go of Naomi.
Naomi: 15 Look at your sister-in-law. She has returned to live with her people and to worship her gods; go and follow her.
16 Ruth: Stop pushing me away,
insisting that I stop following you!
Wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people.
Your God will be my God.
17 Wherever you die, I will also die
and be buried there near you.
May the Eternal One punish me—
and even more so—
if anything besides death comes between us.
18 When Naomi heard this and saw Ruth’s resolve, she stopped trying to talk her out of returning to Judah.
Ruth 1:14-18 (VOICE)
True friends don’t take everything you say as truth. Orpah was convinced that she should return back home whereas Ruth refused to go even when Naomi pushed her away. If Ruth was only concerned about her future she would’ve left as well.
Sometimes I decide early on in friendships not to give my whole heart because I’m afraid I will probably go through some discomfort along the way. But what I’ve learned is that if I am too concerned about what future pains or inconveniences I might have to go through I will have a hard time staying friends with anyone.
Ruth stood up to Naomi’s bitterness and drive to isolate. She said stop pushing me away! Are you able to recognize when someone is pushing you away, and not take it personally? Are you able to see past their words and understand what they really need? Loyal people choose not to let other people push them away.
Who has God put in your life that he wants you to stick with? Despite the circumstance they may be in and even if you might not get anything out of it?
It Pays to Be Loyal
14 And the women of the city said to Naomi, “Bless the Lord who has given you this little grandson; may he be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and take care of you in your old age; for he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you so much, and who has been kinder to you than seven sons!”
16-17 Naomi took care of the baby, and the neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!”
And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse and grandfather of King David.
Ruth 4:14-17 Living Bible (TLB)
In Ruth chapters 2-3 God orchestrated for Ruth to work in a place her future husband owned. She didn’t know at the time that Boaz would be her husband, but Naomi coached her in how to be and how to win him over and their lives radically changed.
Things don’t always turn out as we plan but if we give our loyal love, God takes care of our lives. Naomi decided to be loyal to Ruth and give her help in finding a husband. Ruth decided to be loyal to Naomi by sticking with her even in uncertain circumstances. Their loyal friendship allowed God to move in their lives.
One of the best ways to become a loyal person is to learn how loyal God is to you and to learn how much he values loyalty. Study out the following Scriptures and journal what you learn about God’s loyalty and how he feels about loyalty from us:
Some time passed. One day, the word of the Eternal One came to Abram through a vision-a kind of waking dream. Eternal One: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am always your shield and protector. Your reward for loyalty and trust will be immense.
Genesis 15:1 Voice
But the Eternal One remained with Joseph and showed him His loyal love and granted him favored status with the chief jailor.
Genesis 39:21 Voice
With Your loyal love, You have led the people You have redeemed; with Your great strength, You have guided them to Your sacred dwelling.
Exodus 15:13 Voice
The Eternal your God burns with jealousy when you’re not completely loyal to Him.
Deuteronomy 4:24 Voice
Instead, those who obey My commands and truly love Me will receive My loyal love endlessly, even for a thousand generations.
Deuteronomy 5:10 Voice