I’ve been thinking about what it means to be ruthless and what it means to have “ruth”.
Ruth is one of the few women to have the distinction of having a book of the Bible named after them.
We all know that Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi’s husband died, then both of her sons, including Ruth’s husband, died. Naomi told her daughter-in-laws to return to their own people. However, Ruth “clave” unto Naomi. Clave is a past tense of the word “cleave”. One of the definitions of cleave is, “to remain faithful”. So she followed Naomi to the land of the Israelites. They weren’t Ruth’s people, she was a Moabite. She said to Naomi, “Whither thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
Ruth went to glean in the field to provide for her mother-in-law. She had the good fortune to glean in a field belonging to Boaz, who has a relative of Ruth’s late husband. Boaz told the young men that they were not to touch her. Ruth wanted to know how she had found grace in his eyes. It was because of her faithfulness to Naomi.
They were later married and Ruth became the great grandmother of King David.
It is a beautiful story of devotion.
In the dictionary the word “ruth” means to have pity or compassion, to feel sorrow or grief, self reproach contrition or remorse.
Of course, being ruthless means to have no compassion, to show no mercy.
If we all had a little more ruth towards others how different would the world be? What if we had compassion towards those around us? There would be less divorce, less violence, less stress.
When the guy driving in front if us is too slow, we could extend a little grace towards him. Perhaps there is a hazard that he can see that we cannot from our vantage point. If we have ruth it is easier to think of that person as being just as important as we are.
In this time of great political unrest, it is easy to see the differences in our points of view as reason to hurt each other. We hurl accusations left and right. We become so entrenched in our own point of view that we find no reason to feel compassion towards each other.
The second half of the story of Ruth is really the story of Boaz. He was also a man of commitment. He knew that there was a kinman who was actually first in line to purchase a parcel of land that had belonged to Elimelech (Naomi’s husband). The first in line could not redeem it so Boaz took on the responsibility. Along with it he purchased Ruth to be his wife. He treated her with tenderness and kindness.
(Now don’t get all hung up on the word “purchased”. It was another day and time and this is the way they did things.)
What if we all had the devotion to step into our brother’s shoes and take his responsibilities on ourselves? Wouldn’t we see things a little differently if we saw life through someone else’s eyes?
I want to challenge each of us to have “ruth” in our daily dealings with people. All of us will be blessed if do.