There is a story in the Bible about a woman by the name of Ruth. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth, having been recently widowed, begged to stay with Naomi, even though it meant leaving her homeland. From her heart, Ruth told Naomi, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God" (Ruth 1:16). Naomi agreed and the two women traveled together to Bethlehem.
Ruth was drawn to Naomi because Naomi’s life was a powerful witness to the reality of God. After a period of time, God led Ruth, a young Moabite, to a man by the name of Boaz, whom she eventually married. The marriage resulted in Ruth becoming the great-grandmother of David and placed her in line as an ancestor to the coming Messiah. This story shows what a profound impact Naomi’s life had on Ruth.
The book of Ruth was written during the time of the judges; a time of great idolatry, violence and disobedience. During this dark time in the history of Israel, people lived to please themselves rather than God (Judges 17:6). Yet three people; Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, kept their integrity, remained strong in character and stayed true to God in the midst of a society that was collapsing around them.
Ruth was a Moabite and Boaz was a descendant of Rehab, a former prostitute. Yet, it was through their offspring that the Messiah came into our world. The book of Ruth will encourage you that God is still at work in the world. This story also reveals God’s wonderful grace during the most challenging of circumstances. It teaches us that no matter how disheartening and antagonistic the world can appear, there will always be people who follow God and through whom God can do amazing work.
Ruth is an example to us of how God can change a life and guide it in the direction that He has foreordained. In the book of Ruth, we see God working out His perfect plan in this young woman’s life. God does this with all of His children (Romans 8:28). Ruth came from a pagan background in Moab. But once she was introduced to the God of Israel, she became a living testimony to God by faith. Ruth is one of only three women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
The following five lessons are found in the book of Ruth:
1. Faithfulness: As a daughter-in-law, Ruth was not only faithful to Naomi, she was also a loyal and loving friend. Ruth’s life demonstrated her faithfulness toward God and loyalty toward other people. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz were all faithful to God, who in turn, is faithful to His people.
To be loyal and loving in our relationships, we must imitate God’s love and faithfulness as we interact with others.
2. Kindness: Ruth was extremely kind to Naomi. Boaz, in turn, showed kindness to Ruth, a detested Moabite woman who had no means of caring for herself. He bought back land in order to secure Ruth and Naomi’s inheritance. God showed His kindness toward Ruth, Naomi and Boaz by bringing them all together for His purposes.
Jesus Christ showed His loving kindness toward us by dying on a cross in order to guarantee us eternal life. Should not God’s kindness motivate us to love and honor Him?
3. Integrity: Ruth demonstrated high moral character in several ways. She was loyal to Naomi, she walked away from her former land and customs and she humbly worked hard in the fields. Boaz had high moral standards. He was an honest man who followed through on his commitments.
As we experience the faithfulness and kindness of God, we too should walk in integrity. The values demonstrated by Ruth and Boaz were in sharp contrast to the culture of their day. So too, our lives should stand out from the world in which we live.
4. Protection: God cared for and protected Naomi and Ruth. His control over their circumstances brought these two women safety and security. It is God who guides the minds and actions of people in order to fulfill His purposes.
No matter how desolate our present situation may be, our hope is in God. The resources of God are infinite. Know that God can work in the life of any person. It makes no difference if the person has a high rank in society or is a foreigner in our land. We can trust in God’s protection.
5. Prosperity and blessing: Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem as poor widows. However, they soon became prosperous through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. And Ruth was blessed by becoming the great-grandmother of King David.
However, the greatest blessing was not the money, the marriage or the child. The greatest blessing was the caliber of love and respect between Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. So often today people tend to think of blessings coming in the form of prosperity instead of high-quality relationships made possible by God. No matter what our financial situation, we should learn to sincerely love and respect the people that God brings into our lives. This is how we give and receive God’s blessings. Love, after all, is the greatest blessing.