"And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the
Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me." (Ruth 1:8)
The main theme of the chapter is Kindness.
Kindness. Don't you love the sound of that word. I feel a warmth in that word, reflecting, obviously, my understanding of its meaning. Say it slowly. Ki-n-d-n-e-s-s. Ahhhh.
Here in Ruth 1:8, Naomi seems to be wishing for her two daughters-in-law to return to Moab. Of course, this is not what she wanted, but she wished to test them, to see whether they were following her back to Bethlehem, or following the Lord. We know, of course, that Ruth's heart was full of love to the Lord, and this was the love reflected onto her mother-in-law. Sadly, Orpah's heart was still in Moab, and with the idols of this land.
But - back to kindness.
Naomi is giving the young women the opportunity to return home, but even if they do need to part from each other, she wishes their parting to be amicable, and with kind words. She wishes the best for them: "The Lord deal kindly with you". Even when she was going to be far from them, she wished for God's blessing on them.
And so, one of the kindest things we can do for others is to pray for them; to pray for their salvation; to pray for their good; to pray for God's blessing to be poured out on them.
Naomi then acknowledges that they had been kind wives to her sons: "...kindly, ... as ye have dealt with the dead". How glad Ruth and Orpah must have been when their husbands were no longer with them that they had dealt kindly with them whilst they lived.
Surely we must deal kindly with people too. How awful to live with an uneasy conscience after a person has passed away, when it's too late for us to make amends.
Ruth and Orpah had also dealt kindly with Naomi herself.
It's not always easy to deal kindly with our in-laws, but Naomi acknowledges their kindness to her. Of course, Naomi's dealings with her daughters-in-law may have made it easy for them to be kind to her. If we feel that others are dealing unkindly with us, maybe we should examine ourselves and our dealings with them.
If we are kind to others, they are much more likely to be kind in return.
I was struck with how powerful an attribute kindness is, and wish I lived more of it out in may daily life. How often an unkind word is spoken, when patience and kindness would be so much more appropriate.
"And be ye kind one to another, ternderhearted, forgiving one another, even as
God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" Eph 4: 32
Mrs Mary Beeke, wife of Rev Joel Beeke, gave a talk some time back on Family Kindness. You can listen to it here. For those of you unable to have a listen, tomorrow I'll post on some of her thoughts. (Mrs Beeke has also written a book, The Law of Kindness.)