It was my privilege to speak to a fellowship of mothers from Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church about a few days ago. The topic that was assigned to me was, “The Patience of Ruth”.

The Scriptures speak of two aspects of patience. One aspect of patience focuses on how a person is able to endure trying circumstances. The other aspect emphasises on how a person is able to bear difficult people. We must also note that biblical patience involves a “stickability” and persistent adherence to the truth. When one persists in that which is evil, wicked and foolish, it is not patience but stiff-necked rebellion!

Both aspects of biblical patience can be seen in the life of Ruth. First, as a Moabitess who is now residing in another land, she needed to overcome new circumstances. She was also a widow, which meant that she would be in the lower strata of society. It is hard to be a widow in one’s homeland, what more in a foreign land! Moreover, being one who was not originally from Israel, it was inevitable for her to deal with people who will not accept her in the new land. Ruth’s patience would be sorely tested.

The book of Ruth contrasts Ruth with Orpah. Both women were Moabites who lost their Israelite husbands. Their father-in-law had also passed away. Naomi, their mother-in-law decided to return to Israel, which had been visited by the LORD with food. However, the reality is that hardship awaits the two Moabitish women if they followed Orpah. The dire reality of the situation was put forth by Naomi – “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:11-13)

Having considered the circumstances, Orpah chose to leave Naomi and return to Moab. However, Ruth clave to Naomi and throughout the stay in Israel, lived a life that was a shining testimony to others. Why was she able to do so?

The key lies in Ruth 1:16-17. Ruth had a biblical loyalty. This loyalty is not to self, any idol or man. It is a whole-hearted devotion to the one living and true God and His precious Word. Orpah returned to the land of her gods (Ruth 1:15), but Ruth was able to say with conviction “thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

The loyalty of Ruth must also be the loyalty that we should have as Christians. When our devotion is not whole-hearted, we will sway with the circumstances around us and compromise the faith when put to the test. When our devotion is to a man, and that man fails, we may end up bitterly disappointed or worse still, to end up destroying one another. Just like how Ruth’s devotion is based on her loyalty to the LORD (and thus she stayed with Orpah), so our loyalty to any man must first be based on our loyalty to the LORD. We may follow a man because he follows Christ. Of course, should the man leave and attack Christ, we can no longer follow him because our loyalty is first and foremost to Christ and His Word.

As Ruth obeyed the LORD in the land of Israel, the LORD provided her needs step-by-step, and showed to her His will. Never at any point in time did she take matters into her own hands and transgressed the Word of God. At the appropriate time, the LORD brought Boaz into her life who was a near kinsman, and thus was able to fulfil the role of the kinsman-redeemer (Lev 27:9-25; 25:47-55). When Ruth proposed to Boaz to fulfil this role, it was according to the customs of the times and no immorality was involved. Boaz and Ruth also made sure that all righteousness was fulfilled when they consulted another man who was a nearer kin than Boaz. When that man rejected his responsibility, Boaz was thus able to fulfil his role as the kinsman-redeemer.

What then was the fruit of Ruth’s patience? In due time Obed was born to Ruth, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4:17). This meant that Ruth was privileged to be one who was part of the line, that eventually led to the birth of the Messiah. The Lord’s favour is upon those who are devoted and patient in Him.

Are there any who are going through hard times because of the faith? May the example of Ruth be your comfort and your guide.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew


Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Put on therefore. – As he has enumerated some parts of the old man, so he now also enumerates some parts of the new. “Then” says he, “will it appear that ye are renewed by Christ, when ye are merciful and kind. For these are the effects and evidences of renovation.” Hence the exhortation depends on the second clause, and, accordingly, he keeps up the metaphor in the word rendered put on.

He mentions, first, bowels of mercy, by which expression he means an earnest affection, with yearnings, as it were, of the bowels: Secondly, he makes mention of kindness, (for in this manner I have chosen to render χρηστότητα,) by which we make ourselves amiable. To this he adds humility, because no one will be kind and gentle but the man who, laying aside haughtiness, and high mindedness, brings himself down to the exercise of modesty, claiming nothing for himself.

Gentleness — the term which follows — has a wider acceptation than kindness, for that is chiefly in look and speech, while this is also in inward disposition. As, however, it frequently happens, that we come in contact with wicked and ungrateful men, there is need of patience, that it may cherish mildness in us. He at length explains what he meant by long-suffering — that we embrace each other indulgently, and forgive also where any offense has been given. As, however, it is a thing that is hard and difficult, he confirms this doctrine by the example of Christ, and teaches, that the same thing is required from us, that as we, who have so frequently and so grievously offended, have nevertheless been received into favour, we should manifest the same kindness towards our neighbours, by forgiving whatever offenses they have committed against us. Hence, he says, if any one have a quarrel against another. By this he means, that even just occasions of quarrel, according to the views of men, ought not to be followed out.