Lessons from Ruth
Last month, I looked at the character of Ruth and attempted to ask the question- How can I become a woman of excellence? highlighting the diligence, hopefulness and integrity of Ruth from the scriptures and offered readers passages from the Bible that showed that pursuing excellence in all we do requires righteous action and positive attitude on our part. This month, I’d like to continue the theme of the pursuit of biblical excellence by looking at
1. The costs associated with this pursuit and
2. The prize promised.
Apart from the scriptures, I will reference the two books I also have read and used in my April and May blogs. They are-
* W. Wiersbe. “BE Commited, Doing God’s Will Whatever The Cost” commentary on Ruth and Esther
* C. Heald. “Becoming a Woman of Excellence”
There is so much to learn from Ruth’s life and indeed from the entire 4 chapters of the book of Ruth but the focus verse again needs to be from 3:11…
‘Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.’
The Costs of Excellence
The more we commit our lives to serving Him and delving into His Word, the more the Holy Spirit will show us the need to surrender our lives to Him. John the Baptist said ‘He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.’ ( John 3:30) John was, of course, was referring to Jesus.
To surrender is to “let go, relinquish, yield,abandon,submit,give up my rights”.
Ruth showed an attitude of surrender in her heartfelt words to Naomi.. ‘Where you go, I will go, and where you will lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’ ( Ruth 1:16). Ruth willingly abandoned her rights and any desires or plans for a life in Moab as she was adamant to align herself with her mother-in-law’s God as well as to serve her. That is a picture of surrender.
“There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.” Oswald Chambers
Jesus showed He was surrendered to His Father’s will in going to the Cross and spoke many times to the disciples about counting the cost and taking up their cross to follow Him. As Christians, we must to come to the realisation we need to live our lives God’s way, not our own way.
“When Jesus refers to self- denial, He was focussing on the importance of renouncing self as the centre of our life and actions. In other words, self- denial is the decision of each of His followers to give over to God his/her body, career, money and time. A true disciple is willing to shift the spiritual centre of gravity in his/her life. Self- denial is the sustained willingness to say no to oneself in order to say yes to God…The cross..is the symbol of mission, essence of purpose…whatever mission God gives me is my cross.” Bill Hull By looking at Ruth, we need to ask ourselves- how different would her life have had turned out if she had chosen to stay in Moab? Her faith would not have grown, she would not have married Boaz and her family would not have secured a place in Jesus’ lineage. I think the same of my life. How different my life would be without the Lord. I shudder to think of a life without Him!
Obedience is submission; a yielding to authority and for Christians,that authority is God. Those who obey God, love Him. So true obedience is motivated by our love for God.
In Psalm 40:8 David says ‘I take joy in doing your will my God,for your instructions are written on my heart.’
“If we have surrendered our lives to God, then we will naturally want to yield to His authority, to obey His commands and to please Him by living His way.” C.Heald
We make the choice to obey and it certainly isn’t something that comes naturally to humans prone to sin and selfishness. Again, we see Jesus as the ultimate example for us to follow. God desires us to become like Jesus. Scripture tells us that ‘Jesus learned obedience from the things which He suffered.’ ( Hebrews 5:8)
Just as Jesus was tempted and suffered, we can also grow strong in our faith by being challenged in the same way. “How we respond to various tests reveals whether we have a heart to obey.” C.Heald
And Warren Wiersbe makes this comment about trials “No matter what the trials may be on the outside…or the temptations on the inside…through faith in Christ we can experience victory. The result of this victory is spiritual maturity.”
Looking again at Ruth, we see a daughter in-law willing to obey her mother in-law Naomi. She listened to her advice regarding Boaz as well as heeding the words Boaz spoke to her. She shows herself in the scriptures to be submissive and obedient and willing to come under the authority of Naomi and Boaz.
The Prize of Excellence.
According to Cynthia Heald’s wonderful book ‘Becoming a Woman of Excellence’, she outlines that the Prize of excellence is multi-faceted. In this book she says that women of excellence are exemplified in these ways:
She is –
1. Molded by a disciplined body, mind and emotions
2. Guarded by discretion
3. Made precious by a gentle and quiet spirit
4. Perfected by purity
5. Proclaimed by wisdom
WOW!! In brief, a woman of excellence is disciplined, discreet, gentle and quiet, pure and wise! I see Ruth that way. From the time we are introduced to her in the first chapter of the book of Ruth right until her story ends for us at the end of chapter four, God had His mighty hand on Ruth ( and Naomi for that matter) and everything the scriptures choose to reveal to us about her can help steer us towards a life of submissive obedience and surrender.
The quality traits listed above are a study all of their own so they will form the theme of June’s blog next month.
I trust you have been both challenged and encouraged by our look at Ruth and in becoming a woman of excellence for the glory of God.