“The Choices of Life - Part 3”
TEXT: Ruth 1:1-22
Every main character in Ruth Chapter 1 had a significant choice to make, choices we all face in life.
-Elimelech (a picture of the cultural Christian) made a sensible choice. It nearly detroyed his family.
-Naomi (a picture of the backslidden believer returning to God) made a bitter coice.
-Ruth (a Gentile Moabite girl) made a committed choice to Naomi and her God. This set in motion a chain of events, which pushed the redemptive plan of God forward.
There is a wrong conclusion to draw from this.
-”See choices really matter. It’s all on you. So make the right choice or else you will screw up your life.”
-That is not the message of Ruth.
Rather, here is the message of Ruth.
-Even if you make wrong choices and end up in very dark places, God is still sovereignly at work to fulfill His redemptive purpose in your life and in the world.
-We see this truth beautifully illustrated in Naomi’s life, but especially Ruth’s life.
If this is the message of Ruth, then it leads to an important question: “was Ruth’s decision to radically commit herself to Naomi and her God, was that decision Ruth’s choice or God’s choice?”
-By “Ruth’s choice” we mean, Ruth’s decision was completely hers to make. No one forced her to make it against her will. And she was responsible for the consequences of her choice.
-By “God’s choice” we mean, God was the one working in Ruth to make that choice. God is the one who used her choice to sovereignly produce the exact outcome he wanted.
- So was Ruth’s decision to commit herself to Naomi and her God, was that Ruth’s choice or God’s choice?
- Answer: BOTH.
-Her choice was a total commitment
-Her choice was a fearless commitment
-Her choice was a disregarded commitment
-Her choice was really hers.
-It set in motion the chain of God’s blessings in the rest of the book.
-She deserves the credit.
-So choices matter. It matters whether we choose like Orpah or like Ruth.
-But who can be like Ruth consistely or when everything is on the line?
-Thankfully there’s more the text tells us.
-The text points to more going on than Ruth simply making an awesome choice out of the strength of her own character.
- There are several clues pointing to God behind Ruth’s choice.
1.Her radical commitment to Naomi and her God was unexpected and unexplainable. It makes the reader wonder, where is this coming from?
2.The text took pains to contrast Ruth’s choice with Orpah’s choice. This too is unexplainable considering both women seemed to have the same ethnicity, same cultural background, were married into the same family, and had the same affection for Naomi.
3. The final verse of the chapter (v.22) subtly points to a divine setup for the redemption of Ruth and Naomi.
-The conclusion is there was more going on in Ruth’s choice than just Ruth. It was God sovereignly working through her choice to produce the exact outcome he wanted.
-Therefore, it was also God’s choice.
-How does the Bible’s teaching that Ruth’s choice was really hers and really God’s, how does that help us when we face choices?
-Well, look at the unbiblical alternatives. Both of these are found in the world.
1. My choices don’t really matter because fate controls my life. What’s meant to be will happen no matter what I choose to do. This perspective will make a person very jaded or careless. They will be unmotivated to choose well and live well. They will diminsh their responsibility over their choices.
2. Or, my choices are totally and completely on me. I am the only one behind my choices. I am the only one responsbile for all of the consequences and outcomes coming from my choces. This perspective will make a person constantly anxious, stressed, and filled with regret. If someone really believed in this, they would become paralyzed. What if I pick the wrong school, the wrong job, the wrong career, the wrong spouse? What if I already picked the wrong ones? This is the dominant view in our culture.
-Both are highly impractical ways to live. And ultimately self-defeating.
-These views are on the polar ends of a spectrum.
-We are all on this spectrum, usually closer to one end or the other.
-Thankfully, the Bible teaches that all the choices in a believer’s life are both completely ours and completely God’s.
-So we make every choice in life as wisely as we can. We take full responsibility for them and their consequences.
-But we also make every choice knowing a sovereign, all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful God is at work in my life. And we can rest assured God will ultimately bring the exact outcome He wants through every twist and turn.
But how do we know God will do this with our choices?
-Ruth points to Christ.
-In the text we are more like Naomi than Ruth.
-In the same way, God sent Ruth to Naomi to make a commitment to her unto death; God also sent His son to make a commitment to us unto death.
-And now for those who are in Christ, “all things work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” Amen.