All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. (Ruth 3:11b)
In the book of Ruth we learn that Ruth dedicated her life to serving her mother-in-law and was known as a Woman of Noble Character. Today’s culture promotes personal satisfaction over serving others. When I was first married, my career came before my relationship with my husband. When my children were younger, I chose to work. Later, once I became a stay at home mom, my energy and patience was spent on volunteering. Although volunteering was an act of service, I served for the personal satisfaction and I was not serving in God’s power. Working and much of the volunteering robbed me of the energy and patience I needed to properly care for my family. Being a Woman of Noble Character was certainly not a concern of mine.
Ruth is a wonderful example of a Woman of Noble Character. Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, following the death of her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband. Culturally it was acceptable for Ruth to return to her own parents and leave her mother-in-law to fend for herself. Yet Ruth sacrificed what she knew, a life in her hometown with her parents, to serve and care for her mother-in-law and follow her to a foreign land. Furthermore, Ruth chose to worship Naomi’s God and not return to the idol worship of her own people. Ruth’s dedication and submission to Naomi later grows into dedication to God and He provides the women with a kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. Ruth’s story is remarkable, but it is also an Old Testament foreshadowing of our redeemer. Christ is the final kinsman-redeemer. Through faith in Christ we are adopted and become God’s sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ.
Unquestionably, Christ is the best example we have of one Who came to serve sacrificially and He calls us to do the same.
(Jesus said,) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:12-14)
I fall short of serving my family and others sacrificially and my patience still runs thin more often than I care to admit. I began working outside the home again at an elementary school last year. I try to stay connected to Christ so I can serve the children there. I watch that my job does not rob me of what is needed to serve my family. However, I have the hope of knowing that with God’s help and by staying connected to Christ, I can offer my family and others the compassion and love that God gives me. This is not a form of works done in the hope of earning God’s forgiveness or favor. John explains it better than I can in chapter 15 in the verses immediately preceding the scripture above.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
My desire to obey Christ’s commands is an expression of my love and gratitude for the forgiveness of my sins. The seemingly impossible act of sacrificial service only becomes possible with God’s help as Paul explains to the church in Philippi, “I can do everything through Him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13 NASB). Following Christ’s command to put others before myself promises me the joy I have often sought through selfish means. Only when, out of love, I serve others through the power of Christ do I truly meet their needs.