Ruth: A woman in the bible who left a legacy of strength and resilience. Her story is one that has the Lord’s hand completely written all over it and is one I hold close to me when I struggle to believe what is God’s best for me. My friends and I like to joke about Ruth’s testimony being every single girl’s anthem, however, there is so much more that we can learn from Ruth than just how the Lord redeemed her and blessed her with her Boaz. This study through We Are Beautiful is a testament to that and I hope you feel encouraged by reading this today; that the Lord is with you and will bring blessings through your suffering.
While I was reading chapter three to prepare for this blog post, I had a hard time aligning my heart for what the Lord wanted to share through me to you all. As I started to read, this one verse stuck out to me:
“…All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” -Boaz
Why did this stick out to me? Because Ruth was known by her character, not only by Boaz, but by all of the people of his town.
In order to understand the context of this scripture, as we have learned in the earlier chapters, Ruth’s husband died, and she was a widow who at this point in her life was really only left with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Chapter three of Ruth starts out with Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, wanting to find a home that Ruth could be provided for (3:1). Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s family, and Ruth was given strict orders by Naomi to serve Boaz.Ruth went, and answered obediently by saying “I will do whatever you say,” (3:5). Without question, she went to serve Boaz by following the instructions Naomi laid out, and when he awoke in the middle of the night his reaction to her kindness was affirming her character through the impact it had on him.
“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed me earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” (3:10-11)
Noble is described as having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals. Character is described as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
As woman, I struggle with identity. I am a single, young professional. I am a daughter, sister, friend, community group leader and Christ follower. However, in these labels of identification that I have either labeled myself, or are labels that people see me as, my eyes are opened through this scripture that I want to be known for my character and not for who I am or what I do. And that character is not something that I achieve, it is developed through grace and following Jesus and letting him work through my heart so that my character is a reflection of His and nothing that I have done in my own strength. If you are like me- a doer rather than a thinker, I decided to go back through the chapter of Ruth to discover a few scriptures that reveal parts of Ruth’s character and dissect what we all can learn from her and apply to our own lives. Three that specifically spoke out to me were kindness, determination and obedience.
Naomi talking to both of her daughter-in-laws, including Ruth, of their kindness in how they treated her during her suffering.
“May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me” (1:8).
We can learn from Ruth the demonstration of kindness, through how she treated her mother-in-law. In Ruth losing her husband, Naomi had lost her son and previously before that her husband. Grief is painful enough as it is, but for her in her own grief to show kindness we can recognize that this wasn’t something done out of her own strength. The only way to truly be kind and love in the midst of pain is to pray and seek kindness and love from the Lord himself. Kindness is a simple gesture that we as women can use to reach those who are hurting, and can even be a source of healing for ourselves. Jesus was kind to all in his ministry on earth, and Ruth demonstrates kindness. These two examples are affirming that we as women should pray for, and actively seek to engage in, as it is an action that moves others closer to the Lord and in this world we live in, kindness is something that everyone needs.
Ruth’s response to Naomi when Naomi wanted Ruth to go back to her Mother’s home to start over her life and re-marry.
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her” (1:16-18).
This is my favorite character trait of Ruth. I fully believe that being a determined woman is a gift, and that isn’t something we should hide. However, we should use our determination for the glory of the Lord and not ourselves. Ruth, in this context, is using determination to get through to her mother-in-law that she doesn’t want to leave her. She wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She wasn’t going to give up on her and leave her in the dark. I believe this is a character trait that we should actively pray for and pursue in our life
Ruth’s response to instructions and guidance from her mother-in-law, Naomi.
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do” (3:5).
Obedience is a quality that I personally struggle to identify at times. The qualities above are character traits that Ruth portrayed in relation to others. However, obedience is a character trait that was an action she took blindly for the benefit of herself. She obeyed not knowing the outcome. In my personal life, I don’t always trust that the Lord knows what’s best. Obedience isn’t just a feeling or a one and done deal. It is a choice daily that we choose to obey the Lord in what he brings for the day and that he knows what is best.
Join with me in praying for these three qualities in our own personal lives this week. I know that I need prayer and can’t portray these qualities without the Lord in my heart. I need His help to become selfless, determined and to obey His truth. No matter what situation you are in right now, let’s be women who are known by our character in how we treat each other and ourselves. Let’s fight against complacency and open our minds and hearts to the character of God and let that shine in our daily lives. Let’s remember Ruth and the legacy of her noble character that she was known by.
Featured image by Larm Rmah