Monday, January 16, 2012

3 Lessons from Ruth

We all know her and love her.  She created the definition of "faithful."  She laid down her life for her mother-in-law, and she showed us contentment, obedience, and persistence as she went from married, to single, to remarried.

The book of Ruth has a lot of wisdom packed into just 4 short chapters.  Some of the major themes include faithfulness, kindness, and integrity.  These are all amazing themes, and could be rich studies, but today's post is going to focus on 3 characteristics Ruth showed during her single years.  Since most of my readers are single, I feel like this is an appropriate post.

  1. She practiced the definition of "faithful."  When Ruth's first husband died, she had the opportunity to do whatever she wanted.  She was a free woman again!  She could travel all around the world, seeing all the beautiful places, she could buy her own house and decorate it however she wanted, with no one telling her what to do, or she could even become a regular at the local pub--staying out till all hours of the nights without a care in the world.

    Ruth had the world at her feet.  She could finally live a life fully focused on her.  But, as fancy as that sounds, she knew that a lifestyle like that would not lead to her ultimate happiness.  Instead, she did the last thing a newly widowed woman would choose to do.  She chose to stick by her mother-in-law and faithfully love and serve her during this time.

    Yes, technically Ruth had no responsibility of Naomi anymore, but because Ruth first chose to marry Naomi's son, she had the moral responsibility of choosing Naomi, again.  From this choice we get one of the most used verses in the bible:
    Ruth 1:16"...Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God will be my God."
    If you are currently single, have you been faithful to the things God has presently placed before you?  Perhaps it is helping your parents, discipling a younger girl, or reaching out to a friend.  Luke 16:10 says he who is faithful with little will be faithful with much.  God never gives you more than you can handle.

  2. She didn't dwell in her misery while she waited for Mr. Right to come along.  As single women, we often times use loneliness as a reason to complain, cry, and feel sorry for ourselves.  This is a slap in the face to the God who created us.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes teaches us, God has a plan and purpose for every season of our life.  If has called you to be single for a season, we are to live, laugh, and love in this season of our life.  He's not going to let us move on until we have understood the purpose of the present season.  He is always teaching us something.

    Ruth fully understood this.  While she could have just walked up to some of the young farmers, flirting and seducing them till one of them decided to take care of her, Ruth put her faith elsewhere.  She took care of herself and Naomi with what she knew, and let God take care of the rest.

    Ruth worked hard and persistently in the fields, picking up leftover grain for her and her mother-in-law to get by on.  She did not call special attention to herself, she did not curse God and turn from him, she took charge and did what she could without disobeying or disrespecting her heavenly father.

    Ruth 2:2
    "And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 
    'Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain
    behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor."

    What can you be doing instead of just waiting?  Oswald Chambers says work, worship, and waiting are meant to be done all at the same time.  HowF can you accomplish this?  Glorify God with this wonderful season of your life!
She did not chase after other men.  Believe me, Ruth was a beautiful woman who knew how to respect a man.  I am sure she could have batted an eyelash in the right direction and easily hooked a man who would provide for her.  But Ruth wasn't that type of gal.  She knew that taking life into her own hands would resort in pain, chaos, and strife.  God had Ruth's best interest in mind, and he promised to give it to her in his own perfect timing.  Rather than fighting God and impatiently chasing what was in front of her, she waited faithfully for what she couldn't yet see because she knew God had a better way.  It was this choice that left her husband grateful and overwhelmed.  For this he and God blessed her.

Ruth 3:10
"The Lord bless you, my daughter," he replied.
'This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier:

You have not run after younger men, whether rich or poor.'"

Are you running after the young men in your life, or are you waiting patiently for the wonderful man God is preparing for you?  Is there a relationship or chase that you need to lay down before God?  Perhaps this is a warning to refocus...

For a more in-depth bible study on Ruth: Check out Lady In Waiting