Why would anyone wish to be called bitter? You will if you try to live in this world without God. This is what happened to Naomi (whose name means pleasant). After living in Moab a number of years her life became bitter (Ruth 1:20-22). Her husband had moved his family from Bethlehelm into the pagan nation of Moab to find a better life (Ruth 1:1). However, life was not better there. Naomi’s husband and two sons died in that place. Life among the ungodly brought Naomi bitterness not success.
When Lot moved his family into Sodom he thought life would be better. It was a place where he thought his fortunes would thrive as he viewed the green pastures (Gen. 13:10-13). Conversely, the opposite happened. Like Naomi’s husband, Lot lost his family too (Gen. 18-19). Sodom was a place of bitter loss. Lot lost his wife and a number of his children. Fire and brimstone rained down from heaven upon that wicked place killing some of his family. His wife turned into a pillar of salt. It was a sad end.
In the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son He explained how the young man went into a far country to have a good time (Luke 15:11-24). He thought life would be better away from the father’s presence. The prodigal son lost everything including any dignity he had. It was not pleasant to eat the husks from the pig’s feeding trough.
It was when Naomi returned from the pagan land of the Moabites that life began to change for the better. At the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi was not bitter; conversely she was rejoicing over her new baby grandson. When she came back God began to fill her life with blessings and joy.
The prodigal son humbly returned to his father’s house to confess his sinful ways. His father received him home with joy and a host of immediate blessings. It was a happy reunion. He left the far country of despair with its pig pen and pathetic food and came back to a loving welcome home and a table full of freshly dressed beef.
These three passages teach a wonderful lesson to every Christian. Nothing good awaits the Christian who leaves God’s house. You can venture off from the church looking for good things, but you will not find them there (Eph. 1:3). These examples teach us that God will not allow you to find good things outside of the church. These passages teach us that outside the church is loss, bitterness, and even death. You might have a few days of fun, but eventually “the thrill is gone.” Then what?
God allows each of us to make the choice to stay in the church or to leave. Will your choice be wise or foolish?
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