We’re starting the book of Ruth. It’s only four chapters, so we’ll finish it quickly.

When I think of the book of Ruth, I think of the Hebrew word chesed. It’s often translated as mercy or kindness. It’s the word that is translated lovingkindness. We don’t have a word that encapsulates it, so we made one up to do our best. It’s the agape love of God that drives Him to love sinners.

In the book of Ruth, we first see the word in chapter one, where Naomi says, “May the Lord show you chesed, as you have shown it to our family.” This is high praise. They are told they are loving like Jesus. That’s my goal. I hope it’s yours as well.

Naomi’s family was from Bethlehem in Judah, as was the Levite in the “Ten Shekels” story, as was Jesus. There is a famine and they move their family to Moab, outside of Israel and their two sons marry Moabite women.

Naomi’s husband and her two sons all die, and Naomi hears the Lord has blessed Israel again and decides to return home. The one daughter-in-law reluctantly leaves Naomi to go back to her family.

Ruth clings to Naomi and says her famous line about how Naomi’s people and God will be her own people and God. She says she’ll go wherever Naomi goes and only death could part them. It’s chesed. It’s a devoted love, the kind of love where goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life, not just when you deserve it. It’s the unconditional love that even though everything has gone wrong, it still loves and hopes and stays faithful. That’s the love God has for us.

Ruth gives up what seems like security, going home to her family and finding a new husband. She chooses faith in love instead of the way that seems best to man.

God’s chesed love should move us to respond like Ruth and cause us to cling, to hold on tight. Don’t let that love go. Hold fast to the love of God offered you. Don’t turn away from the gift of perfect love.