Sunday School Material 8-14-11: Choosing a Community

(Ruth 1:8-18; 8/14/11)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that Ruth chose to follow after her mother in law and God. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to live in such a way that people will want to follow after God.

Read Ruth 1:8-13
I. Sending Them Back To The Old Community.
In this section of the Sunday School material Naomi lost her husband and two sons. She is now sending her two daughter-in-laws away.

She tells them in essences that it is not reasonable for them to spend their life with her because of the dead sons. They are urged to move on with their lives. Naomi expresses her grief about what she says is “the hand of the Lord against her.”

Applications –
- Balancing our pain with the duty to do good towards others.
Notice in vss. 8-9 of the Sunday School material that Naomi appears to seek the good of others, in spite of her personal pain.

This is a marvelous character trait for us to strive for. Too often we are tempted to think that our pain means that we can “be a pain” to others.

Let’s work on balancing our personal pain with our duty to seek that which is good for others. II Timothy 1:7 teaches that, as believers, we have been given the power to love.

- Moving along the journey of grief. Notice in vss. 10-13 of the Sunday School material that Naomi is urging her daughter-in-laws to adjust to the reality that their husbands were dead and gone, but they had to live on.

Death can be such a disorienting situation. No matter how prepared you think you are, it can still cause unexpected pain and disorientation.

However, the sooner we get to a point of functioning, the sooner we can get back to being a wise steward of what God has placed in our trust.

Prolonged grief that keeps you from eating, sleeping, working, etc. is not what the deceased loved one wanted. It is not healthy for you. And at some point it becomes insulting to God.

Prolonged grief suggests that God cannot be trusted to avoid the mistake of taking the wrong person, nor can He be trusted to take care of you in the absence of the deceased.

Let’s work on trusting God enough, in our times of grief, to get back on our feet and move forward in doing God’s will. This application is much easier to write/talk about than to actually live out. But this should be our goal.

- A mature view of marriage. Notice in vs. 9 of the Sunday School material that marriage is by implication to be a situation of rest and well-being. That well-being may be financial or any number of other manifestations.

On one hand, marriage should be great for both spouses. However, if one marries with the expectation that someone is going to give her rest and well-being, there may well be some disappointment.

The rest and well-being is often the product of hard team work with God serving as the ultimate team leader.

Because of the gender situation of the text, it seems appropriate to remind women that you don’t need a man to buy a house (just money). Let’s look at marriage with mature eyes.

- Troubles and bitterness. Notice in vs. 13 of the Sunday School material that Naomi is showing signs of allowing her troubled situations to make her bitter.

She talks about “the hand of the Lord being against her.” If we are not careful, we too will slide into that mindset of “Woe is me. I am being mistreated by God.”

Especially, in our times of trouble, we should remind ourselves, as believers (a term that probably should not be applied to Naomi), that God is working all things out for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (see Rom. 8:28).

“All things” includes those things that hurt and make no sense to us. Let’s keep our troubles from making us bitter. I have found prayerful study with obedience, Christian fellowship, and Christian worship to be helpful in my most painful moments.

Read Ruth 1:14-18
II. Allowing One To Continue To A New Community.
Ruth stays with Naomi in this section of the Sunday School material, in spite of Orpah’s returning for her people.

Ruth was determined to stay with Naomi and have the God of Naomi to be her God. Naomi stopped trying to persuade her, after it was obvious that Ruth’s mind was made up.

Applications –
- Being careful with our unsolicited opinions.
Notice in vs. 14 of the Sunday School material that it is easy to side with Ruth, because we know the end of the story.

If it were not for the miraculous work of God and our understanding the reality of God, many would act as Orpah did. We should be careful about being too quick to judge the actions of others.

It is not strange for somebody to talk, when a recent widow begins to date and surely get married. We often don’t know the whole story.

Let’s work on being helpful where we can and prayerful all of the time. This is much better than judging and second guessing the decisions of those who often doing the best they know to do.

- Making God attractive. Notice in vss. 15-17 of the Sunday School material the role that God played in Ruth’s decision making. On her list of things that she wanted to experience with her mother-in-law was her mother-in-law’s God.

We should live so people will want to experience our God – our source and director. If we are always unengaged with people and uninvolved with good works, people probably will not want to experience our God.

They figure they can do bad by themselves. However, when we are filled with joy, sense of purpose, and hope beyond current situations, this is more attractive. Let’s live so people will want to experience God.

- Respect the adulthood of others. Notice in vs. 18 that Naomi respected Ruth’s adult decision. It is not strange for seniors (65 years old +) to disrespect the adulthood of those who are 20 or more years younger than them.

No matter how loving we think we are, we should respect the right of grown people to make their own decisions and then experience the consequences of those decisions.

Let’s work on respecting one another’s adulthood. Love tries to do what it thinks is best, and it also knows when to back off.

Conclusion: Let’s work on living in such a way that people will want to follow after God. God has much for those who obey His will.

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