We live in a fast food world. We want everything hot, fast, and our way. Sometimes we treat each other like a fast food place. When we are not satisfied, we send them back. However, Kingdom relationships require something deeper. They require covenantal mindsets.
A contract is a deal. For example, I love bacon cheeseburgers. One day I went to a burger place and ordered a bacon cheeseburger. In exchange for my money, the cashier gave me a burger. I found a nice quiet place in the restaurant to enjoy my burger. I unwrapped it, mouth salivating in anticipation of that juicy 100% all beef patty topped with crisp bacon and melted cheese with no annoying vegetables to get in the way. I took a bite, sat back in my chair to enjoy, but there was something missing. No bacon. I looked at my receipt to see if she had wrung my order up right. Yep, there it was an extra .33 for bacon. I took the sandwich back to the counter and showed my receipt and they gave me a new burger with bacon of course.
I made a contract. I agreed to pay a certain amount for a bacon cheeseburger; they agreed to deliver a product. They didn’t hold up their end of the deal which gave me every right to demand my product or a refund. However, a covenant is very different.
A covenant is still an agreement. Unlike a contract, which is dependent on the other party fulfilling their end, a covenant puts the responsibility on us. Take marriage for example. I made a covenant with my wife Charmayne and despite her “performance,” I will always hold up my end by loving, protecting, and providing for her. I keep my promise despite how she may make me feel. I told her “I do,” I did not say, “I do if” I can’t return my wife for a refund. Could you imagine the look on her father’s face if I tried? Luckily I’m a very blessed man and wouldn’t dream of it! Marriage is the most common covenant we make, but it’s not the only one.
Ruth made a powerful covenant to her mother in law. Just to give some context Ruth’s mom Naomi lost everything. She lost her husband and sons to illness. It’s pretty rough to be a single woman pass child bearing age in that time. Ruth was one of Naomi’s daughters in laws. Ruth had absolutely no reason to stay with Naomi but she chooses to remain by her side even after Naomi encouraged her to leave. In response to Naomi’s pleading Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16-17
Ruth had no reason to stay. She was about to leave her people, family, and everything familiar to follow an old woman into a foreign land. But, as we will see on this road from contract to covenant, God looked favorably on her and she would bless many for generations by her selfless act. We can learn about covenant relationships through the story of Ruth.