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What is in it for me?

Written by  Thursday, 16 April 2015 00:00

The commonly cited relationship between a woman and her mother-in-law is uneasy one to say the least. But it seems different when it comes to Ruth and her mother-in-law. After Naomi lost her husband and her two sons, she set out to go back to Bethlehem as a destitute person who is coming back empty handed. When Ruth and Orpah insisted to join her, Naomi replied:


“Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Ruth 1:8 – 9. Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “we will go back with you to your people.”


When I read this, I see Naomi to be one of the best mother-in-laws on earth! She must have had a very good and loving family relationship with her daughter-in-laws. Naomi, Ruth and Orpah had one thing in common, they lost their husbands. In that, they grieve to the same extent perhaps. As she started the journey, she kissed Ruth and Orpah goodbye; but they refused insisting, “We will go back to your people.”


“Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me?” Ruth 1:11


Naomi is now asking them to do quick cost-benefit analysis. Why would you come with me? What is there for you in coming along with me? She is saying, “I am poor, shattered, old woman who has lost her husband and two sons. There’s nothing that would benefit you in being with me.”


It is a common question we always ask, when we are invited to any opportunity or event. Our brain would quietly ask, “What’s in it for me?”  Will I be entertained? Will I get money? Will I get recognition?


Ruth and Orpah made “what is in it for me?” analysis. Then it is time for the second goodbye kiss!



“At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, BUT Ruth clung to her.” Ruth 1:14


Orpah said in effect, “You are right, there is nothing in it for me. Goodbye”


But Ruth's action shows that she must have said to herself, “I will not leave Naomi! There is love in it for me!”


“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.” Ruth 1: 16-17


How many times have we done, “what’s in it for me?” analysis, and gave our back in difficult days to those who had been close to us? Think about it carefully…


The best Easter feast I have ever attended in my life was when I was campus student. My close friend like a big brother, who is also a university lecturer invited me. He warned me to get dressed well as he had important guests he expected, and he told me to help him serve his honored guests. He wouldn't tell me their names, he simply said, “You will know them when you see them.” As educated and respected as he was, I expected high level people, people of his standing.


To my shock, when the lunch time came, I saw large number of widows with their children invited to his sofa. I served them the best food prepared at his level. When I asked them what they would like to drink, I asked if they wanted coke, or Pepsi, or Fanta, or sprite…. Most wouldn’t know the difference. These were guests of honor to my friend. After the feast we sang songs… I tell you, heaven was near us, angels sang alongside with us! I wish you were there and you would have witnessed what I am saying now to you!


What is in it for you to serve the poor?
Love is in it for you!


Now, get out this week and greet someone in your local church… someone you wouldn’t normally recognize if you ask, “What is in it for me?” someone whose name you keep forgetting… talk to him/her this weekend


Also do one more thing. Find an old friend of yours… you know whom I am referring to!


One thing is for sure, you will make Jesus smile, and your deepest self will be filled with the vibration of his smile. You will feel it… it’s called joy

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Dr Tewoldeberhan Daniel

Dr Tewolde is happily married and a father of four boys.

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