When I think of Ruth, I think of the ultimate girl boss. Ruth encompasses everything I want to be as a woman in Christ. She fears The Lord, she loves her family, and she works hard – in that order.
As we dig in to Ruth’s story, I want you to be thinking about what makes Ruth admirable. What makes Ruth a good role model for women? I’ve broken her story down in to four traits that really stand out to me, and what I feel makes a worthy woman to follow.
1. Loyal // Ruth loses her husband, and leaves her home.
Ruth 1:11-14 (ESV) emphasis added
But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Okay, so let’s break down what has happened up to this point. There is currently a famine occurring in Israel; and the conditions are so severe that this family is packing up and moving themselves to a place that has been oppressing their country.
Some time after they have settled in, the father ends up passing away – leaving Naomi a widow, and caring for her two sons. At some point, the two sons end up marrying Moabite women (which is unheard of, as it was highly discouraged to even have friendly relations with the people from this nation). Then about ten years after that, both of the sons end up dying. Naomi is left with her two daughters-in-law, and has decided that she wants to make the trip back to Israel, as she has heard that the famine has ended.
As she begins her journey back with her daughters-in-law she instructs them to return home to their families. She has no other sons for them to marry, and so she encourages them to leave her and remarry. Her wishes make perfect sense, Ruth as no reason to stay with her mother-in-law; she lost her husband, she has no children, and still has a long life ahead of her, yet Ruth CLINGS to her. And if her actions aren’t loud enough, here is her response:
Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV)
But 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.”
Uh, wow. If that isn’t the definition of loyalty, I don’t know what is. Her loyalty is so deep and unwavering, that she is willing to follow her mother-in-law to her grave. I don’t know about you, but not only do I want to be the kind of woman who people can expect that type of loyalty from, I want to surround myself with other women who are like that.
2. Takes Initiative // Ruth didn’t wait to be told what to do. She saw that her family had a need, and she took the necessary steps to fulfill it.
Ruth 2:2 (ESV)
And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, they had no provisions. Ruth saw that they needed food, and instead of waiting on Naomi or waiting for something good to happen, she went out and went to work. She wasn’t ashamed of their circumstances or her need to work, she doesn’t whine and complain – she just gets to work. And the amazing part is, we are going to see God bless her initiative later on in her story.
3. Hard Working // Ruth not only took matters in to her own hands to provide for her family, but she worked HARD.
Ruth 2:7 (ESV)
“So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
What has happened is Ruth has decided to go out and glean the fields for food behind the reapers. In other words, she is out walking behind these workers and literally picking up the scraps and pieces that have been dropped or left behind, and collecting them for her and Naomi. Now while she is out there working, Boaz (her father-in-law’s relative) returns, and asks who Ruth belongs to. After the workers inform Boaz of who Ruth is, they immediately mention how long and hard she has been working. Her hard work is noticed.
Ruth 2:8-16 then goes on to show us how her work ethic is rewarded. She is given free rein to work the field alongside the other woman. She is also given food, water, and protection. All the things she needs and more.
4. Obedient // After Naomi sees the fruits of Ruth’s hard work, she then gives her further instruction. And because Ruth is loyal and obedient to her mother-in-law, something incredible unfolds.
Ruth 3:1-5 (ESV)
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
When I first read this, I thought, “Okay, this is a little weird, but I’ll go with it.” But then I actually studied what it all meant, and it didn’t seem so strange anymore. Essentially, what’s going on here is Naomi is instructing Ruth on an Israelite custom. This is how Ruth informs Boaz that he can be her guardian-redeemer (a relative who volunteers to take responsibility for their extended family).
When Boaz wakes and notices Ruth laying at his feet, he gives her an amazing compliment – he calls her a worthy woman. All of her actions up to this point, all of her hard work, her overall character has made other people see her as a worthy woman.
The next day, Boaz meets with the Ruth’s true redeemer, a man who is a closer relative than Boaz, and settles the matter. And once all of the logistics are worked out, Boaz is able to be Ruth’s guardian-redeemer, and the two are married.
Then the really amazing thing happens; The Lord gives Ruth conception, and she has a son.
Because of Ruth’s loyalty, hard work, and obedience, God blesses Ruth with a husband, and then with a son. He uses an outsider of Israel to create the lineage of King David, and then eventually Jesus Christ. Let that sink in. Ruth’s works played a part in God’s preparations for the births of David and of Jesus.
Interestingly enough, Ruth never saw the “fruits of her labor” – but her diligence resulted in being apart of the lineage of Christ.
So what about Ruth’s story stands out to you the most? What about her life speaks to your heart in your current season of life? How can Ruth be a role model for you?
Join us on Facebook as we answer these questions and share our take aways from her story on Monday, October 30th at 9:00pm CST! I hope to see you there! XO