Let us consider a very interesting love story written in the Bible. In fact the inspired record sets apart a whole book to tell us the story of Ruth and exalt the qualities of the couple, Ruth and Boaz. Who was Ruth? A widow, a young lady born a Moabite, therefore, of pagan origin. Who was Boaz? An important businessman from Bethlehem.
Among his successful businesses, Boaz owned cereal-producing land. He dealt with other shrewd and wise businessmen, each wanting to have advantage over the others by using their commercial strategies. Boaz was skillful in treating the crossers who were looking for a way to gain much at the expense of others.
As busy as he was with all his endeavors and concerns, Boaz took time to go, during harvest, to his plantations to accompany the harvest closely, and to come to know each of his many harvesters and employees. Boaz greeted eich one and treated them kindly and courteously (Ruth 2:4).
Is it possible that we consider the servants as inferior beings? Do we withhold our greetings? Are we less attentive to them? Do we ignore them? Boaz was devoted in his greeting to his workers. To each and everyone, he gave a blessed greeting, "The Lord be with you!"
Boaz knew even the poor and the aliens who gleaned his land. Therefore he noticed that new people were gleaning and asked about the girl (2:5).
The foreman knew his master well and gave him detailed information about the new gleaner (2:6, 7).
What an interesting report the foreman gave concerning Ruth, mentioning that she had asked, "Let me go and pick." Ruth did not want to share in the gleaning without being duly authorized. The foreman noted this and told Boaz.
We often meet shy people who come and mingle with others, remaining anonymous, unnoticed, secretly utilizing some fortuitous opportunity. But we meet others, like Ruth, who enjoy things being clear and offering adequate explanation. She introduced herself and asked permission to glean. Her attitude was that of a winner.
When Boaz found out who she was, he instructed his harvesters to treat her with kindness and deference. He went to her and welcomed her, offering her good working conditions (2:8, 9).
Boaz praised her for what she was doing for her mother-in-law and for the deceased's family. Using beautiful and poetic language, Boaz asked the Lord to give Ruth His blessing (2:11, 12).
Ruth replied gracefully to Boaz, showing herself to be respectful and appreciative (2:10, 13). At lunch time, Boaz invited her to eat and he served her himself with generous portions (2:14). She ate sitting comfortably, without haste, until she was satisfied.
When returning home, Ruth carried the result of her work, and the food that had been left after lunch and gave it to her mother-in-law (2:17, 18). She worked in the fields of Boaz to the end of harvest time. The aged Naomi worried about Ruth. "When I die, how will my young lady do?" Naomi pondered.
Then she explained to Ruth what customs and laws the Israelites had about marriage and inheritance. Naomi was expectant: "Will Ruth accept our behavior and act accordingly with our customs and laws?"
Ruth listened attentively. As a matter of fact, this was one of Ruth's great virtues—TO LISTEN! The Book of Ruth tells us, at least 17 times, that she listened attentively.
In fact, the best way to know what another thinks is to listen. Giving importance to what is being said and listening carefully to know what a person is saying is a desirable trait, one that is essential for personal growth and development. Moreover, a speaker can be encouraged by pertinent, short and well-thought out questions. These skills help improve understanding and prornote good relationships!
After hearing Naomi's instructions, Ruth might have refused, maintaining that it was ridiculous to take the initiative. After all, in paganism where she had been raised, she had learned to obey the orders proffered by men without questioning their commands. And even if she had dared to speak, she would not have been heard, nor her ideas accepted. On the contrary, she would have been punished. This attitude represses the feminine soul. It produces wilting and frustration, destroying a woman's self-esteem.
Verily, this is the purpose of the pagan social system, even today. The objective is to keep male impunity, freedom, supremacy and despotism, even at the expense of destroying the soul of the woman, who in many men's concept has less value than an object. What a loss!
Ruth, however, had self-naturalized as an Israelite even before she left her country. She declared: "Your people will be my people, your God my God." Everything changes for the better when a person says to the Lord Jesus, "You are my God."
Jesus responds to the invitation, enters close to the heart and gladly produces a transformation so wonderful, complete and perfect in the soul, there is no room left for trauma, guilty feelings, or even the sense of loss for the interruption in the practice of cherished old sins.
Ruth was, at that time, living this transforming experience in her life and when she heard Naomi's instructions she again showed her mother-in-law that she had totally assumed the Israelite citizenship. She willingly conformed to the customs of the people of her choice and to the laws of her new country. She said to Naomi, "I will do whatever you say." That night Boaz was at the threshing floor to accompany the winnowing of the barley. Ruth prepared herself and courageously went to do her part of the project.
Imagine her anticipation. Ruth did not sleep, but stayed vigilant. Later, Boaz awoke and noticed the presence of a woman at his feet. Startled and surprised, he asked, "Who are you?"
When she heard this question, she did not disgustedly say, "Well, I'm your foreign servant and am here because my mother-in-law told me this and that about laws, etc...."
NO! Ruth was thereby her own decision after becoming acquainted about the usage and customs of the people of Israel, and not because Naomi had commanded. She assumed her position in the Israelite society and was able to firmly say, "I am Ruth, and you are my kinsman-redeemer."
Those who study psychology say that when a person feels confident and accepted, she expresses herself better, more clearly, without fear, objectively and with intelligence. Ruth felt accepted, so she was able to speak with confidence.
The fearful person is indecisive, blocked and shows by these attitudes that there is a feeling of not being understood or not being accepted by the parents, by the surroundings or by the spouse. It is not a question of temperament or personality. Even those who are introverts and quiet, when they feel accepted, express themselves without fear, with clarity and objectively. This facilitates dialogue and helps promote a good relationship with others.
It is interesting to note that Boaz did not criticize Ruth for having taken the initiative or for having come to see him at that time of night. On the contrary, he expressed his appreciation for her choice (3:10, 11). Boaz knew what he should do as a kinsman-redeemer and said, "I will do whatever you ask." What joy Ruth must have felt! The mission was achieved. The result? "I will do whatever you ask." How marvelous!
And now? How would Ruth return home alone in the darkness? Both feared God and had a good name to maintain. They both decided they would be the first ones to preserve their pure characters. Ruth stayed at Boaz's feet until before dawn.
Praise the Lord! Today we can still find men with good correct characters like Boaz; men that, even facing tempting situations, show respect and maintain pure hearts; men who, above all, fear the Lord and consider themselves sons of the celestial king.
Long before the sun rose, Boaz said to Ruth, "Bring the mantle you are wearing and hold it out" (3:15). Some translations say, "Put your mantle on the floor." Ruth may have refused by saying, "Why on the floor? It is going to get dusty!" or "It is so cold, why should I take it off?" But she trusted Boaz, and when there is trust, the prompt attending to even a "strange" order is more spontaneous.
Boaz measured about 45 pounds of barley and laid it upon her, telling her to take it as a gift to her mother-in-law. He was showing Naomi his approval of the instructions given to Ruth. In the same day, Boaz took the legal procedure. Several days later, he married Ruth and they were a lovely and happy couple. They became the grandparents of King David and from their descendants Jesus our Savior was born.
Pastor, without doubt, you and your wife wish that your marriage will last forever, full of love and happiness. Would it not help to observe the wise attitudes that Boaz had with Ruth? Reviewing, we see the following:
- Boaz, even as busy as he was, took time to speak gently with Ruth. Open communication between two people is very important.
- Boaz looked at Ruth when he spoke to her. Looking deeply into the eyes of the beloved one draws hearts closer.
- Boaz gave words of appreciation and praised Ruth for her behavior and attitudes. Sincere praise, words of recognition and gratitude, please and encourage the loved one.
- Boaz was sensitive toward Ruth's expectations and he endeavored to provide conditions of comfort for work and rest. Such an attitude warms the heart and unites the bonds of love.
- Boaz invited Ruth to lunch, without haste. Special invitations, whether on commemorative occasions or not, make the wife feel appreciated.
- Boaz prayed the Lord's blessings on Ruth. Praying and worshipping together nurtures the spirit and the soul.
- Boaz did not criticize Ruth; he understood her. Criticizing wounds the heart, but understanding builds solid affections.
- Boaz had a public conduct that preserved his good name and that of Ruth. Mutual respect promotes the relationship's endurance.
These wise attitudes enriched the lives of the couple Ruth and Boaz, and will, undoubtedly enrich the lives of every couple who consider it worthwhile to follow the wisdom of Boaz.
May we think on this and pray that our hearts will accept and live this most gratifying experience.