Loving people is hard work. I admit it. It's just plain hard in a world full of broken relationships and sin. Sometimes the hardest people to love are the people you love the most. And sometimes we're called to love people that are just plain hard to love.
A Loving Life, by Paul Miller focuses on the book of Ruth and hesed love.
Hesed is a Hebrew word that means God's loving kindness and his love for mankind. God loves us with a committed, steadfast, and sacrificial love.
This is the love that we are called to show to others, but it is not an easy love and it is hard to apply. Ultimately, it comes from knowing the one that was the ultimate embodiment of hesed, Jesus.
Paul Miller spends the book going through the book of Ruth, showing how Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz embrace hesed love at different points in the story and love sacrificially.
Reading A Loving Life was the first time I considered the sacrifices Ruth makes to love Naomi. Reading the book of Ruth in a modern culture can make it really difficult to understand the gravity of Ruth's decision to stay with Naomi, but Miller focuses on the significance of Ruth's decision in her culture and how it is a display of self-sacrificing love.
I could probably go on and on about this book. The content is challenging and refreshing, and it gave me a new perspective on the book of Ruth while also reminding me of the sacrificial love of Jesus. It encouraged me to think about areas in my life where God is calling me to love others with hesed love.
Definitely worth a read if you want a loving life. It's hard to cultivate, but as evidenced by Ruth, so worth it!
Below are some quotes that I enjoyed from the book.
Instinctively, we hunt for a church or community that makes us feel good. It is good to be in a place where you are welcome, but making that quest central is idolatry. And like all idolatry, it ultimately disappoints. But if we pursue hesed love, then, wherever we go, we create community. (Pg 100)
No story is more powerful than a gospel story. In fact, if you want to write a book or a movie script, you'd better make it a gospel story, or it likely won't sell. When Troy came out as a movie, I thought, "It will flop. It isn't a gospel story; it's a Greek tragedy." I was right. It flopped. Les Miserables, though, whether on Broadway, Public TV, or the big screen, is a hit. It's the power of the gospel. (Pg. 69)
You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life energy needs to come from God, not the person you are loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. That is the crucible of love, where self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power or wisdom or ability in yourself to love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you can't love. That is the beginning of faith - knowing you can't love. (Pg. 43)
We come alive as we love. The depth and quality of Ruth's character emerge when she binds herself in love. She's an unusual combination of quiet power and love, intimidated neither by Naomi nor by the prospect of suffering. In fact, she fights to embrace suffering. She will not be out-loved. And she is thoughtful, actually brilliant. Her offer of herself as a living sacrifice is the only answer to Naomi's plan. (Pg. 44)
This book is filled with great nuggets, and these are just a few!
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She Laughs Without Fear