The opposite of bitter is sweet, kind, genial, or pleasant. We have all met a bitter woman or man. We do not even need to have a conversation with them; we can just look at their countenance and see bitterness written all over their faces. There is no smile, no joy, and no happiness; and when we begin a conversation with them our suspicions are confirmed-they certainly ate their lemons this morning.
We all have circumstances in our lives that can cause bitterness, yet that bitterness regarding our circumstances is like a cancer that eats away at what is good in life. When viewing life, a bitter person looks at every event or situation through the glasses of the bad event or events that caused the weed of bitterness to take root. The yellow rose only has thorns, the affectionate dog is a slobber monster, or that special friend forgot our birthday. Satan likes to help the seeds of bitterness to grow by continually reminding us about the difficult situations in our lives. He waters those seeds with constant torments of the injustices in life.
As a child of God, these things ought not to be.
Have you ever compared the life of Ruth with that of Naomi in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament? Naomi and her husband Elimalech along with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion left Bethlehem because of the famine in search of a place to find provisions. They settled down in Moab, a pagan city. After some time the two sons took wives from the Moabites-this was strictly forbidden by God in the laws of the Jews. They were only to marry women of their nationality. After some time, all three mend died and Naomi was left with her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. After some urging Orpah returned to her family but Ruth vowed “where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge, your people my people, and your God my God, where you die I will die…” (Ruth 1:16, 17).
Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Upon their return, Naomi made this declaration: “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1:20, 21). I must admit if I was Ruth I would have said, “What about me? I lost my husband too, and I left my home and my family to come with you and this is the thanks I get. It’s all about you and your loss.” However, this was not Ruth’s response.
Despite living with a bitter woman in a foreign land, Ruth chose to walk the higher road. She was pleasant. She proved to be a hard worker. She was respectful and humble. Ruth 3:11 says she was a worthy woman. She was a woman that was “far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10).
In the book of Ruth, the contrast between a bitter woman and a noble woman is very obvious. Not only is it obvious, it was rewarded. Ruth was so noble, God chose her to be in the lineage of King David and our Savior, Jesus. There could be no greater honor for Ruth than this, all because she chose to be a woman of godly character, a woman that was “far above rubies.”