Reflect on Your Life
1. Think back on a time when you had to make a difficult choice—when doing what was best for another person was painful to you. Briefly describe the situation and why it was painful. (For example, letting your child learn a lesson the hard way, giving credit to a coworker when you would have liked to receive it yourself, etc.)
Read the Passage
Read Ruth 1:1-14 .
2. Describe the kind of life these three women faced as widows.
3. Why did Naomi decide to return to Israel?
Realize the Principle
4. How did Naomi reveal a selfless attitude?
5. Why did she believe it would be best for her daughters-in-law to return to their homeland?
6. What do you think Naomi was thinking and feeling as she encouraged Ruth and Orpah to remain in Moab?
Naomi thought it best to return to Israel, and she may have wanted to continue to enjoy the relationship she had with Ruth and Orpah—obviously great love had grown among these three women. In her desperate and saddened state, she easily could have asked the young women to stay with her for comfort and companionship. But she wanted what was the best for them.
Respond to the Message
7. Most of us would say that we want the very best for our loved ones. How can our own selfishness interfere with this?
8. What are some of the rationalizations that a person might use for being selfish?
9. When is it difficult for you to “hurt,” even though it is in the long-term best interest of someone you love?
Resolve to Take Action
10. What can you do to develop unselfish attitudes and actions?
11. How can you encourage a loved one to do what is best for him or her?
More for Studying Other Themes in This Section
A. Naomi was a foreigner in Moab; Ruth and Orpah would be foreigners in Israel. How could this have affected their choices?
B. What assurances would be important to you before agreeing to move to a foreign land?
C. How is faith demonstrated in this story?
D. Why does God allow tragedy in our lives?
This study is adapted from Ruth & Esther: A Life Application Bible Study (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989).