A Woman of Excellence- Lessons from Ruth
"All my people in the city know you are a woman of excellence." Ruth 3:11
The above verse was spoken by Boaz, the man who became Ruth's kinsman redeemer and husband (more about that later) and was a high compliment indeed. It was certainly an interesting compliment too, given that Ruth at the time was destitute, a widow, a foreigner and a Moabite.
(You can read the full story in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Bible)
What words describe 'Excellence'?
-The quality of being very good at something
-The highest and the best
-The quality of being virtuous
The Biblical view of Excellence
The word translated 'excellent' in the New Testament come from the Greek word diaphero, which literally means 'to transport' or 'to differ'. Scripture translations also render the word as 'best', 'vital', 'the better things' or 'the highest or the best'.
The Hebrew word translated 'excel' in Proverbs 31:29 is alah which means 'to ascend'.
"Who can find a virtuous (excellent) woman? For her worth is far above rubies." Proverbs 31:10
Ruth gained the reputation as a woman of excellence. She conducted herself with grace and humility and was above reproach in all she did. She selflessly loved and served her mother in-law Naomi with cheerfulness and hope. She also chose Naomi's God, over the gods of the Moabites.
She didn't need fancy clothes, a big home, lots of things, an impressive job or education or social influence. Actually, Ruth had none of those things. Yet, she was a woman of excellence. This fact is a direct contrast to how the world defines and views someone of excellence.
In studying the book of Ruth this month, I've asked myself-
How can I become a woman of excellence?
What are the costs in pursuing excellence?
What is the prize for pursuing excellence?
I will attempt to answer the first question in this month's blog but will continue in May's blog to answer the second question as well as look at the prize the life of excellence offers.
The Bible is filled with scriptures that encourage the pursuit of excellence.
Below are some in image form:
If the goal of our pursuit of excellence is not clear, we risk losing sight of what it is we're pursuing or desiring. The following Scripture passages give specific guidelines for how we should pursue growth and excellence in our walk with God.
Matthew 22:36-39 tells us through Jesus' own words that we should love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbour as yourself.
2 Timothy 2:15 says to be diligent in presenting yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.
2 Peter 1:3-8 but especially verses 5-7 reminds us that God has given to us EVERYTHING we need for life and godly living and that we are to be diligent to add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self control, to self control perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love.
One of the words that stand out to me from these verses is the word DILIGENCE.
Ruth strikes me as a diligent person. She diligently followed her mother in-law back to her homeland, leaving all she knew in Moab. She diligently served and worked in Boaz's fields each day, gleaning the wheat deliberately left by the paid workers for the poor and brought it back to Naomi so they could eat to survive. She was diligent in listening to Naomi's advice when it came to how she approached Boaz in inviting him to be her kinsman redeemer and future husband.
How do I approach life and the challenges I face? Do I remain hopeful, positive and diligent in all things as Ruth was? Would people say of me that I am woman of excellence, doing all things well? Or am I prone to complain or become complacent at times? Have I been deceived by the world by what defines excellence ? In reading Ruth's story, we never read that she complained, became lazy or complacent or lost hope (even when Naomi often did).
Although I must admit I haven't responded in a fashion that would define a woman of excellence with every challenge I've faced this month, I am certainly asking myself more often now- What would a woman of excellence do? or How would a woman of excellence respond? in my desire to embrace excellence as a lifestyle.
Hopefully this month's blog has given you some food for thought. In May, I will continue with Part Two in Lessons from Ruth, a woman of excellence.