“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.'”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Psalm 119:68 says, “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.”
When we resemble the goodness of God and have truly good and clean hearts, we can become God’s true children.
This was the reason why God the Father sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to this earth and allowed Him take so much suffering that was unbearable for men.
It was to gain true children who are not only justified by faith in Jesus Christ but also whose hearts are truly righteous, good, and clean.
I explained to you about true goodness that is recognized by God in the last session, and from this session, I would like to share with you the detailed and substantial aspects of goodness featuring people in the Bible.
The generation of today is so evil that we frequently hear in the news about many sins that go against all morals.
A son kills his father to get the insurance money, or a brother kills his own brother due to envy, they are such detestabe things that our hearts become depressed just at the mention of it.
In this wicked world, how can we expect to see such goodness as serving a wicked step-mother with a good heart or selling everything they have, or even going to the point of risking their own lives to heal the disease of their parents? You might think this kind of thing only happens in stories.
But since you have learned about the perfect goodness acknowledged by God, you now know that you, as children of God, can and should have acquired this kind of goodness.
Today, I will introduce Ruth to you. She is a person who completely accomplished what we call the ‘goodness of following one’s duty’.
I hope you will be able to check and compare with her example whether or not you are doing your duties completely and in truth.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will give out the beautiful aroma of goodness to your family and close friends, to evangelize your family, and become the light and salt to many other souls as well.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let me first briefly tell you about Ruth. Ruth was a Gentile woman living in Moab. She married an Israelite man who moved to Moab to find a place to live that was away from a severe drought.
But all men in the family died without any offspring, there were only Ruth, her mother-in-law, Naomi and her sister-in-law, Orpah remaining.
While they were in this situation, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, heard that the LORD had come to the aid of His people by providing food for them and she prepared to return home. Then, she said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home.”
Naomi had pity on her daughters-in-law who had to live without hope in a family where there was no longer a man. She advised them not to follow her to the land of Judah, but to return to their home country. So, Orpah wept and left her mother-in-law, but Ruth still clung to her.
Naomi again told Ruth more strongly to follow her sister-in-law and go back.
But Ruth showed her true heart to follow her mother-in-law and expressed it with the most confidence inspiring words.
Today’s scripture from Ruth 1:16-17 portrays this very well. “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” What a beautifully loving profession!
We can feel deep in our heart Ruth’s love for her elderly mother-in-law, who had no hope and nobody to rely on, it was a love so great that she wanted to stay with Naomi for the rest of her life.
But if Ruth had a mind to seek her own benefit, what would she have done?
Although she could have just said a couple of times that she wouldn’t leave, and then left her pretending to be forced by her mother-in-law since her mother-in-law was telling her so strongly.
But because Ruth had good heart, her heart to follow her duty did not change.
This must have been such great comfort to her mother-in-law, Naomi.
When she saw that Ruth, who was not even her own daughter but a daughter-in-law, truly served her even when her son had already died, she must have gained great encouragement in her heart.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the aspect of goodness that we will learn from Ruth is the ‘goodness to follow one’s duty’.
‘One’s duty’ is the way that a person has to follow in the nature and order of things.
Children should serve their parents, brothers love one another, and young people should respect the elderly people.
When people follow these paths in the right way, we can say they are doing their duties.
Then, one’s duty is something that should be kept naturally, so why do we say Ruth is good?
First of all, it is because Ruth chose to fulfill her duty even when it was not beneficial for her at all. She chose to fulfill her duty even if she had to sacrifice herself.
If Ruth had not followed her mother-in-law but returned to her hometown, there she had relatives. She could have re-married and lived a happy life again with a new husband. But if she followed her mother-in-law, what was in the days ahead for her?
For her mother-in-law, it was her hometown, but for Ruth, it was a strange place. Their livelihood was not certain there either.
Furthermore, since her mother-in-law was old, Ruth had to take the responsibility of making a living.
Also, if her mother-in-law had died, Ruth would have been left alone in a strange land without a husband or children.
The results of her choice to stay or leave were clearly oposite each other, and now she had to make a choice.
In physical sense, it was clear that in one way she would suffer, and in the other way she could gain happiness.
Also, even Naomi thought of her daughter-in-law and was telling her to take the way of happiness, not of suffering. Still, Ruth did not think about the situation. She didn’t calculate what would benefit her, but she boldly chose the way of doing her duty to serve her mother-in-law who was alone.
Could you choose to do your duty like that if you were in Ruth’s situation?
In the case of worldly people, if there are many brothers, serving elderly parents becomes a big problem for them and they have conflicts.
Furthermore, if the parents have Alzheimer’s or some other serious disease, it is even more problematic for them.
Younger ones argue the first son obviously has to take care of the parents. Yet, the first son says that he cannot do it all by himself, so everybody should take a turn.
But if they have good heart to do their duties, this kind of thing would not be a problem, and they would handle it in peace.
There are many of our members who volunteer to take care of your parents even in situations where you do not really have to do it, to lead your parents to the way of salvation. I am very thankful for this.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the goodness to do one’s duty works not only in families but also in your workplaces in the same.
Our members sometimes ask me the following kind of question.
They ask, “I have been offered a job where I can be paid more, what should I do?”
They ask me this question because they want to follow the good will of God before they choose to take what is beneficial for them.
Then, I ask them whether or not quitting the current job would cause any harm to the present company.
If you received great help or learned the skills to become a good technician in this company and you are doing an important work there, you should think what kind of action is truly good.
If you till feel that you should change your workplace, you must not cause any harm to your current company that gave you your benefits.
However, if you give up your benefits to follow the way to fulfill your duty by believing in God, God the Father will surely pay you back with better things.
Even in faith, we can see those who have a good heart to do their duty grow more quickly in spirit. Those who are good in their heart are grateful for the grace of the Lord and the love of God the Father who saved them from sins, so they think it is obviously the duty for them to live according to will of God.
Once people come to know that it is God’s will to keep the Sabbath holy without working, they stop working on Sundays to live according to God’s will.
With the faith of a new-believer it might seem that the profit from working on Sundays will be lost, but those with good heart follow the will of God thinking, “I am saved by the Lord, and how can I seek my own benefit going against His will?”.
It is the same with giving tithes. If you have good heart to do your duty, you will not feel it is a waste to give tithes to God.
If you experience God’s grace through the Holy Spirit, you come to know everything you have is actually from God, and you will not feel burdened about God’s Word that tells you to give one tenth of your income as evidence of showing your faith.
Rather, you would want to give additional thanks offerings on top of your tithes.
So, even new-believers, if they have good heart, they keep the Sabbath and give proper tithes from the beginning stages of their faith.
It is because they have the goodness in their heart to do their duty, and because of this goodness of heart, their spiritual growth will be fast.
If they once choose to follow God’s will to do their duty, God will certainly give them experiences and let them gain faith because the way they choose is the way of blessings.
The second reason we say Ruth is good is because she did her duty with truthfulness and sincerity, not with a sense of duty. Ruth went to the land of Judah following her mother-in-law. She never regretted choosing to follow her mother-in-law and served her with an unchanging heart.
When she arrived in Bethlehem of Judah, she immediately had find something to eat. Fortunately, it was the harvest season for barley. Going behind the reapers, she was able to glean the field for dropped grain among the sheaves
It was not much even though she gleaned for the whole day, but she was happy that she could serve her mother-in-law with that and faithfully did the job.
We can also see in the Bible how truthfully Ruth respected her mother-in-law and served her sincerely.
After her work of the day she brought the grain she gleaned and told her mother-in-law what happened during the day in detail.
She served her mother-in-law with great faithfulness and love. She tried to understand the heart of her mother-in-law and act according to it. Naomi also loved Ruth very much with her true heart thinking of her like her own daughter.
These deeds of Ruth were known to the people of Bethlehem and she was praised by the people.
Eventually, an influential man there named Boaz became the kinsman redeemer and took Ruth as his wife. Ruth received great blessing spiritually and materially.
Ruth gave birth to Boaz’s son, Obed. Obed was the grandfather of David, and through this, Ruth is in the genealogy of Jesus even though she was a Gentile woman.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those with good hearts do not stop doing good deeds somewhere in the middle. Because it is the pleasing will of God to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others and to follow the proper way of man, they do good deeds without change of heart like Ruth.
Doing good deeds unchangingly in any kind of situation is to accomplish the perfect will of God the Father. In today’s world, this kind of good person is rare. There are few who do the good will of God.
It is even scarcer to find a man who acts in goodness until .
We can see this trend in a saying, “There are few good sons if the disease is long.”
Even though the children might serve their parents who are ill, if it goes on for a long time and if they have to spend a lot of money, their original heart changes over time.
Their sympathy and love for their sick parents goes away. The hardship coming from taking care of them comes out as words and actions that break the parent’s hearts.
Their parents already feel sorry to have become a burden on their children. But children speaking out words of irritation hurt their parents’ feelings so much more.
How do the parents react in this kind of situation? Some feel very disappointed others express their anger saying, “You know what I went through to raise you, how could you do this to me!”
Of course, it is natural duty of children to serve their parents even if they have to sacrifice themselves.
But in the parents’ position who are being served, what kind of heart and attitude is really goodness and love?
There was a son and his 70-year-old mother. The son could not bear disgarding his mother in the mountains, but he had to follow the law.
One day, he asked his mother to go for an outing and carried her on his back. His mother already knew what was happening and that her son lied unwillingly, but she just went along with him.
It was a long journey and they had to take several rests. The mother was worried that her son was tired and he might get lost on the way back home since he was only looking down at the ground while walking.
So, she broke some braches to mark the way.
They finally arrived at the destination, and when it was almost sunset, the son said, “Mother, stay here. I will go home and bring your dinner.” The mother, knowing that her son was abandoning her said, “Can you find the way back? If you get lost, follow the broken branches. I broke them on the way here.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, although we do not exactly know whether this really happened, but in today’s world where love between parents and children have cooled down, we can realize true love through this story.
If we have true love like this, we don’t even have to think about fulfilling one’s natural duty.
In many old stories, we can find those who had true love of this kind or followed the proper way even to the point of death, even though they did not know God.
How should we, who know God and the word of truth, act as children of God?
We are saved by the grace of the Lord from the way of eternal death and received the promise of eternal life. It is duty of man to pay back the grace he has received. Even now, I send greetings from time to time to the pastor whom I served before I became a pastor.
Moreover, the father of our spirit is God, and we are His children.
I want you to check whether you have fulfilled your duty as God’s children by doing what pleases Him.
Especially, ministers and church workers who confess to offer their lives should check whether or not their heart has not changed somewhere in the middle.
Have you come along the way with thanksgiving and joy even in hardships and difficulties?
Prophet Habakkuk confessed in Habakkuk 3:17-19, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.”
I urge you to firmly believe that God the Father will give you the best things if you ministers, workers, and members go your way with faith trying to do your duty as ministers, workers, and children of God with thanksging for the grace you have received.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I talked about the aspect of goodness that fulfills one’s duty with the example of Ruth. I told you two reasons why Ruth’s deeds were considered good although serving one’s mother-in-law was her natural duty.
The first reason is that she chose to fulfill her duty knowing that she would not gain any benefit but rather she had to sacrifice herself.
The second reason is she served her mother-in-law not with sense of duty but with truthfulness and sincerity without changing her heart or mind.
I think you should check whether you are serving your family members with good heart as a member of the family.
Also, Galatians 6:6 says, “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” So, I also want you to check as to whether or not you are fulfilling your natural duty towards those who supply you with spiritual bread.
But above all else, you have to fulfill your duty as a child of God. If any of you do not fulfill your duty towards your family members, you cannot be said to be fulfilling your duty of a child of God, who is spirit.
1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will completely accomplish goodness that fulfills one’s duty like Ruth so that you will receive the grace that God has prepared for those who are good.