January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

Stand Tall - Emulate Ruth
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Stand Tall - Emulate Ruth

Ms. Starla Luke

You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread – stale and dry. - Loretta Lynn

Somebody said that basic understanding of truth alone is insufficient to prove a person as mature. Bluntly speaking truth alone also does not prove a person’s maturity – whereas one’s ability to communicate the truth with discernment and the right attitude does.

Who is a mature Christian? He/she is one who continues to grow into the image and likeness of Christ through consistent studying of the scriptures, constant prayer, Christian fellowship etc. Eph 4:13   … and become mature, attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ.

An immature person is like a student who fails to appreciate why he or she had failing grades. In John 8:1-11 when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus He treats her with empathy and does not condemn her like her accusers did. These ‘noble men’ in the society were people who acted without personal insight into their own lives. This is a good lesson for us not to condemn others without taking a good/hard/critical look at ourselves.

Unless we are willing to learn from our failures we will fail to grow.  Looking at ourselves inwardly is healthy self-criticism which produces insight that helps us to better know ourselves, with the resulting possibility of change and growth. Self criticism (without self – condemnation) is absolutely necessary for emotional and spiritual maturity. 

As a woman – I would like to highlight some areas where maturity must definitely be displayed in an individual’s personal as well as public life – Ruth is a giant of a lady in the Old Testament and there are ample examples as we study her life.

 Ruth, a widowed daughter in law at a very young age could have been bitter, haughty, angry, sought self-pity, sympathy- yet she displays immense sense of maturity by her behavioral pattern. She sticks on to her mother-in-law not merely out of a sense of duty but also out of genuine love. This is one sign of a mature person – he /she will have deep love for others. Such a one will never be hasty. ‘Quiet waters run deep’ is an oft quoted proverb. What is done in haste will not last long. 

She was strong.  In Ruth 2:13-18, we read that she carried home an ephah of barley (equivalent to 30 to 40 pounds). She worked all day and yet had enough strength to walk home carrying a 30 pound weight. Oh My! What a lady! Here is woman who knew how to distribute her labor and thus keep herself from feeling drained out by the end of the day. She worked hard all day and yet worked sensibly and I am certain she planned out her work load in such a way that she did not need to depend on others for her need.

She was a dignified and gracious lady therefore did not throw herself at her kinsman redeemer. She neither demanded her right to be redeemed by the next of kin of her deceased husband nor did she behave in a derogatory manner when he came forward to do so. She preserved herself with dignity and Boaz fulfilled his obligation towards her as kinsman redeemer. Had she acted impulsively, immaturely and provocatively, she would probably have been discarded for life. How often do we at our workplaces act impulsively or churlishly and thereby lose the dignity and respect that otherwise would have been due to us? 

Ruth did not grab what did not belong to her as a ‘gleaner’ that is why Boaz instructed his young men to purposefully let some of their grain fall so that she could pick it up. Had she picked up more than her due share, she would not have been treated so kindly by Boaz. In our workplaces, too very often we take what does not rightfully belong to us, our work time, money, telephone, paper, office material etc. Our “Great Boaz” often sees that we have helped ourselves to more than our fair share of things due to us and hence He feels there is not need to bless us in extra ways. Are we like her in our workplaces, offices and with other people-when we use their telephones, when we are made responsible for somebody else’s money, somebody else’s time, and somebody else’s property? How do we respond? 

Ruth’s life and the future of generations to come were blessed simply because even when she was a mere gleaner in Boaz’s fields, she displayed extreme maturity in handling the many opportunities that came her way. Ruth’s future and generations were blessed through her. If we long for such blessings in our life then we must not hesitate to learn from the life of Ruth. 

She worked faithfully - even at a menial/derogatory job such as gleaning for sustenance in somebody else’s field in a strange land. How would you and I handle any such work entrusted to us?  Ruth did not show less faithfulness because she was a mere ‘gleaner’ living off someone else’s mercy. She demonstrated her true level of maturity even here – when none were watching her. Eventually the industrious Ruth gained the reward for her sincere labor. Do we enjoy the reward without striving or working hard? How often do we rest content with sloppy work simply because we do not wish to put our very best efforts into our labour - yet we do not hesitate to enjoy undeserved fruits of the rewards? 

Ruth 2:22 reads, ‘Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you my daughter, to go with his girls, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.’”- She took Naomi’s words here and stayed with a group of girls. She did not condemn Naomi for treating her like a child nor did she tell Naomi that she was ‘worldly-wise’ and reject Naomi’s suggestion. Here again Ruth displays absolute reverence and obeyed her mother-in law. In Ruth 3: 5, she says ‘I will do whatever you say,’

In Ruth 2:8, 9 we see Boaz urging Ruth to stay with his reapers until harvest was finished. Naomi also agrees that Ruth should continue to labor in the field of Boaz. Ruth implicitly obeys and this is proof of her willingness to submit and obey. Anyone who has put aside arrogance and pride to yield to older and more mature godly people- have only prospered. Ruth was younger to Naomi and as the ‘earning member or breadwinner of the family’ could have decided herself whose field she wanted to work in-but she chose to be under authority and therefore was blessed. 

Ruth did not ridicule the culture that she was alien to. She respected the culture that her mother-in law came from and adapted herself to the new cultural environment. 

Ruth 1: 16-17, ‘16 But Ruth replied, “ Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” She accepted as her very own, Naomi’s God and land. She could have belittled the strange customs and traditions of this nation and remained a ‘foreigner’ amidst them. She made a vow before Jehovah (Ruth 1:17) and called upon Him to witness her decision. Criticizing a culture that is not our own-simply because they are different from us in language, food habits is never expected of a mature individual. You will never win souls if you deride another person simply because he/she does not speak, eat or dress as you do.

Ruth understood very clearly who Naomi worshipped and wanted to do the same. Ruth, when she accepted Naomi whole-heartedly also accepted all that Naomi believed in – including her God – Yahweh. As an older woman Naomi was an exemplary mother and hence Ruth had a model to emulate.  As older women, do we present ourselves as role models that our younger sisters and daughters can follow?

Ruth worked diligently without seeking favor (Ruth 2:7, 17, and 18). She wasted no time. She did very well what she could without finding a way to escape her responsibility. She did not hesitate from doing well what she could (2:8-12). Ruth had found favour in the eyes of Boaz-yet she did not take advantage of that. She did not simply sit down and demand that the reapers come and fill her baskets with grain. How many of us would take advantage of a similar situation?  Boaz recounts all her genuine merits and praises her to her face. If someone were to praise us to our face would we then continue to remain with our feet firmly planted on the ground? Ruth here displays a servant like attitude to Boaz as she had earlier done to Naomi. 

Ruth did not attain maturity overnight. None can do it. It is a gradual process. In Deuteronomy 7:22, “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” God had the power to destroy all of Israel in one sweep but even He does it in phases- that was His choice. Similarly He allows us to learn gradually- one lesson at a time to grow into maturity and not gain it instantly. Instant growth = quick death. We must start striving for it by showing a willingness to put away every obstacle that hinders us from growing into maturity – and this must be done at any cost. Every believer’s goal ought to be to become spiritually mature. Col 1:28 says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Paul’s desire was to see each believer spiritually mature. This can be achieved if only we work whole heartedly and with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Boaz’s testimony of Ruth- Ruth 2: 11, 12 ‘11Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband- how you  left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge?” 

Boaz compares Ruth’s relationship with the Lord to that of a young bird seeking refuge under the wings of its mother (v 12). Boaz commends Ruth for her right choices. She comes to Israel seeking protection, refuge and shelter. When we as women of God need either of these where do we run to? Ruth as a symbol of a mature woman sought her refuge and protection at the right place.

Let us emulate good examples such as Ruth from the Bible in demonstrating Christian maturity.

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