During prayer one day, I was praying about my long-term future in regards to service for Him and where God is leading me. The Holy Spirit pressed upon my heart to read Ruth. That somehow, the answers I was looking for, was found within that story. I have to admit that my attitude was somewhat skeptical. I thought to myself, “What can I possibly learn from Ruth? Her story is nothing like me.”
As I’ve said more than once, God is always right.
In reading the story, studying it out in detail, and listening to a sermon on the story, I learned a lot. A lot more than I thought, that’s for sure! Today, I want to share that wisdom with you…as well as having a record online for myself, so that I never forget!
How to Have an Exemplary Marriage
The passage starts off with a woman who lost her husband, Ruth. Her mother-in-law (Naomi) had lost her husband as well some years ago and her mother-in-law told Ruth to go back to her native land in order that Ruth might be married again. But Ruth was determined to stay with her mother-in-law.
Immediately this caught me as a woman I could relate to. I felt like I could do more for God’s glory being single than I ever could do by being married.
Being married, you have so many more responsibilities as a wife…..cooking nice meals, cleaning, tending to your husband’s needs, and so much more. I bypass all of that, saving myself quite a bit of time that I can spend in my relationship with Christ. I can read my Bible when I want to, listen to a sermon, or pray all day long if I want to and since no one’s going to see my not-perfectly-clean home or purposely make it impossible for me to spend time with God as my ex-husband often did, it doesn’t really matter.
But I realized that I was wrong in reading this story! Because when you do find that right person for you, they make you better. They make you a better Christian, they light your fire for Christ, keep you accountable to BE your best and it’s actually, dare I say, better to be married in that way, because you actually do serve Christ more, if you are both committed to doing so.
In that moment, everything in my heart changed. Suddenly, I saw how selfish I was and how a relationship actually can strengthen my walk with Christ and the work I do for Him in the future. But, let me be perfectly clear, I’m not out there looking for love, so don’t get any ideas. 🙂
The other thing I can see so clearly is the love of Ruth for Naomi. How I long for the relationships of a mother-in-law and father-in-law. I really love the older generation. I connect with them quite well. They are my heart. I feel like this younger generation that I’m a part of, doesn’t respect their elders at all. You hear stories about how kids are shooting and killing their parents. How grandparents are being put away, far away, out of sight and mind.
And I think it’s one of the biggest tragedy’s in our culture today. Instead of revering the older generation, young people scoff at them, act like they don’t know anything, act like they are a bother to them. And it hurts my heart.
Older people have lived through so many trials and are still standing. They have so much wisdom and knowledge. They are more patient and kind and gentle. I think of one elderly woman in my church. Gosh, she is just so beautiful inside and out. I love her so much and she is so wise and loving. She’s always there to help, always there to care, always there to show love even when she’s hurting. Always there to serve, always has a smile on her face. I want to be like that. When I’m older and have gray hair, I want to be one of those women who are serving and loving on the younger generations, teaching them godly things by example.
It’s a long way away. It seems like I’ll never get there. I’m not patient. Not always gentle. Not always loving. I don’t always wear a smile. Sometimes I act foolish, let my emotions get the better of me, talk too much and get myself in trouble like Peter did in the Bible (sometimes I’m TOO honest). But as each new trial comes, I learn. I learn to be more patient and kind. I learn all the things that I need to learn to one day become like that elderly woman in my church.
I can understand exactly why Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law. The loyalty is there and I can connect with that so much, because I’m an extremely loyal person myself.
Her mother-in-law, seeing that Ruth wouldn’t give up (another character trait I possess), let her stay with her. They went back to the mother-in-law’s native country. Ruth began to work hard to gather food for her and Naomi. It’s such a beautiful picture of Ruth serving and caring for her mother-in-law.
She gathered grain from a field that happened to be owned by one of her relatives (God’s sovereign will, I’m sure!). And my favorite part of the story, is when Boaz, the relative who owned the field said to Ruth in Ruth 2:11-12:
Boaz 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. May 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.”
Do you notice that? Boaz had been TOLD ALL about what she had done.
It makes me think about my own character and what people will say about me behind MY back. Will they say that my character abounds and that I’m a woman after God’s heart, or when someone brings charges against me, will they believe the lies? Believing me to be someone I’m not.
How will people talk about you behind your back? What will they say? Will they say you are a great woman who fears the Lord? Or will they say, “Meh, I see her on Sundays, but I don’t really know that much about her.”
I want to live my life in such a way that people know about me before they meet me. Not in some self-honoring way, but that my reputation, my character is proven. That people see the real me and know that I am genuine. That I genuinely love others and want to serve them. That I have sacrificed great things in my life in order to obey God and walk in His precepts. That He is using me to accomplish His will in the lives of others.
Now, looking back at chapter 2, verse 23, we see that Ruth was gleaning grain from Boaz’s field for a period of about 2 months. Barley harvest usually began about mid-April and wheat harvest extended to mid-June. I think it’s important to note that we’re not looking at a story that took place over a time period of years and years. Between the time they met and the time she asked him to honor the levirate redemption law (to marry her), was about 2 months. I don’t think this would be the norm for relationships today, but in this story, it really only took 2 months for both Boaz and Ruth to know that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, which makes their story all the more incredible!
It’s also important to note that Boaz never called into question Ruth’s character. When you think about it, it must have seemed strange to him: All the sudden this woman shows up out of nowhere and two months later, asks him to redeem her. Boaz could have easily thought that she had the whole thing planned from the beginning in some evil and wicked plot. SOMEhow, he knew this was not the case. She was innocent in that regard and things just happened the way they did by God’s sovereign will and not by Ruth’s cunning plots.
And again, you see the godly character of both Boaz and Ruth. Boaz wanting to do the right thing, makes sure there is no one else that can marry her before he does (which is a whole nother story in of itself really). In that way, you can see how he gives the whole situation over to the Lord and does not act based on emotion, though it’s clear he cares for her because he gives her even more food, an entire 60-80 pounds of food in fact (!) along with his most highest promise. And Ruth, could have had her pick of men her own age, but chose not to. She chose a man who was much different in age than her because he was a godly man.
My friends, our culture tells us that age matters, but in God’s sight, it doesn’t. Ruth would rather have been with a godly man than to be with someone else and this speaks volumes of HER true character as well. She desired a godly man above all else, even above men her own age with riches and good looks. Because being godly is supreme to all of that. In fact, I know a very prominent couple that is 16 years apart in age and they have an absolutely beautiful marriage and literally can’t keep their hands off of each other (don’t tell them I said that!) 🙂 What it comes down to is the heart and they clearly love each other according to God’s design in all ways. And just in case you’re tempted to think they are newlyweds, they’ve been married over 10 years and still going strong!!!
In the commentary of my study Bible, under verse 3:11, it says this, “In all respects, Ruth personifies excellence (cf. Prov. 31:10). This same language has been used of Boaz (“a man of great wealth” or more likely “a man of valor” in 2:1), thus making them the perfectly matched couple for an exemplary marriage.”
When I read this, my mouth dropped to the floor in awe. That’s the answer friends. The way to have an exemplary marriage is to BE and to chose a husband for yourself who is a godly man. An exemplary marriage cannot come if just ONE person is godly and the other worldly. If just ONE person in the marriage is on fire for Christ and the other is “meh.”
To have a truly exemplary marriage, BOTH must be on fire for God, making each other BETTER for Christ, serving each other out of love for the other and for Christ.
And I have to say this boldly and confidently, that this type of marriage is worth waiting for!
The end of the story is that Boaz and Ruth do marry and give birth to Obed, which becomes David’s grandpa, which our Lord and Savior was born from the lineage. It’s also speculated that Ruth is the woman who is spoken of in Proverbs 31 as the excellent wife. If you’d like to begin studying out Proverbs 31 in detail, I’ve started taking the passage verse by verse and breaking it all down to what that woman would look like today, in modern society. You can check out the on-going study here.
After really delving into the study of Boaz and Ruth, I realize that I have a lot more in common with Ruth than I previously thought, and that it is my desire to become more and more like the Proverbs 31 woman as I live my life in full obedience to the One that created me.
I also have learned that it doesn’t matter what the topic, I never win against God. 🙂 He always knows just what I need to hear at the exact moment I need to hear it. He opened my heart that day in a way that only He could; giving me a new desire in my heart. He showed me I was wrong and how selfish I’ve been. He taught me SO much that day about myself and about Him. Prayer is an incredibly important part of a believer’s walk and that day, He answered almost instantly!
I hope that this post has encouraged you and that you will take the time to study out the book of Ruth for yourself, because there truly are a lot of treasures to be found within it’s pages!