If every human being had the capacity to do the right thing every minute of every day, humankind would have no need of laws.

But since all of us have the capacity for both hatred and love, we are compelled to make rules that provide our best judgment for how to live together in peace and justice. Laws alone cannot ensure our well-being, however. The stories of our very best human selves are the stories of our love for one another — the stories where laws and social norms are trumped by hearts that love and people who follow their hearts and act on that love.

Consider now how love can help us be our best selves.


But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah.

Ruth 1:3-7


The narrator in this part of the story speaks objectively about what happens to Naomi. She loses her husband and, shortly afterwards, both her sons. She is left with her two daughters-in-law; at this point we know nothing about what these women are thinking and feeling. We don’t know if the deaths are sudden or if they occur slowly after long illnesses. We can only consider the losses we have experienced and imagine the grief of the women, particularly Naomi, who has lost both her husband and her children. We will only understand them fully when we hear the complete story of the depths of their love.

Even before we hear the full story, though, there is a message for us. A mere recounting of events cannot give us empathy for our fellow human beings. Compassion comes when we bring love to the story — when we consider what others have lost and how important it is to remember that they, like us, have the capacity for overwhelming love.

Estelene Boratenski


Dear God, thank you for your love for me and for all those whose stories seem distant from my life. When I’m tempted to think little of others’ suffering, help me remember that love is always part of the human story. Amen.


We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may
One day be restored:
And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians
By our love.

Peter Scholte