Faithfulness: The Foundation of True FriendshipFaithfulness: The Foundation of True Friendship
Jacalyn Eyre
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Fruit of the Spirit Bible Studies were written with the goal of allowing the Spirit of God use the Word of God to produce his fruit in your life. They can be used in your quiet time, small group, Sunday school, or neighborgood Bible study. Six lessons focus on one or two verses each so that you can see them in context and discover what the Bible says on your own. Questions encourage thought and exploration rather than one-word answers. Leader's notes are provided.
     

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A COMMITMENT TO BE THERE

Ruth 1

There is an old saying that when times are hardest you know who your friends are. That summarizes the first chapter of the book of Ruth.
Naomi’s situation was at its worst. She had lost her husband and sons, which meant that she had also lost her source of income, security, and identity. She was without hope. It is at this point that Ruth, her daughter-in-law, does an astonishing thing—she decides to stay with Naomi. Ruth demonstrates a commitment to be there.

Warming Up
1. Why is faithfulness an important quality in friendship?

Digging In

2. Read Ruth 1. What do we learn about Naomi in verses 1 —5?

3. Ruth and Orpah are introduced as Naomi’s daughters-in-law (v. 4). What basis do these three women have for mutual trust (vv. 1—5)?

4. Consider a time when you shared a difficult experience with someone. How did it strengthen your friendship?

5. What do verses 6—13 reveal about Naomi’s relationship to God?

6. When you have faced a painful experience, how has it affected your attitude toward God?

7. The famine is over, and Naomi prepares to return to Bethlehem with her daughters-in-law. Why does Naomi encourage Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab (vv. 8—14)?

8. What cost does Naomi face by encouraging Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab?

How do both Ruth and Orpah show faithfulness to Naomi by their different responses?

9. What does it cost you to be faithful to those you love?

10. Read Ruth’s familiar words in verses 16—17. How would you summarize her words of dedication?

11. Naomi’s homecoming is painful (vv. 19—22). How does Naomi view herself and her situation?

12. What provisions has God made for Naomi even in the midst of this bitter time?

13. In what situations is it most important for us to be there for our loved ones and friends? How does Ruth’s example encourage you to be faithful in good times and in bad?

Pray about It

Our Father, teach us to recognize and understand friendship. Teach us how to receive friendship. Teach us how to be a friend. Like Naomi, give us the capacity to know, show, and speak our feelings—love, anger, longing, bitterness, despair, and devotion. Like Orpah, give us the ability to separate from those we love if it is required of us. Like Ruth, who reflects your character, give us the courage to be faithful; to give support, love, and commitment; and to cling to those you call into our lives. May we show kindness especially to those who feel judged and rejected. Father, teach us friendship. Teach us faithfulness.

TAKING THE NEXT STEP

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third edition, faithfulness is the act of “adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, a cause, or an idea.” Synonyms are loyal, true, constant, fast, steadfast, staunch. Faithfulness suggests undeviating attachment. Close your eyes, sit quietly, and imagine yourself in a conversation with God about faithfulness. If you have any questions, ask them. Afterward, record this conversation. Spend a few moments in reflection.

List times when you have been angry with God or felt deserted by him, even judged by him. Now list ways in which God has been faithful to you. List ways you have been faithful to God. When and how did you make your first commitment to God?

Ruth’s commitment to Naomi seems extreme, yet this type of commitment is often made in marriage and many times in friendships. Make a list of those who are dear to you. In times when you felt empty, how have they been faithful to you? What kindnesses have they shown you? In times when you rejoiced, who has been with you to share your celebration? In what ways have you shown faithfulness and loyalty to your friends?

Spend time in thanksgiving. Thank God for your relationship with him and for the faithfulness he has shown you. Thank him for the people he has given you to love and for their friendship.