And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.
Ruth 3:11 (NIV)
I was looking through the references to the word ‘character’ in the Bible and as I read this particular one I paused. How did the people know that Ruth was a women a character? How did all the people of the town know this? What was it about her that made it indisputable? What proved to them her character? Was it what she said? I don’t think so, the Bible doesn’t record any conversation between her and the townspeople at all. Was it her family, where she came from? Where they known for being respectable? No, she was a Moabite! The Moabites certainly weren’t respected by God’s people, the Moabites worshiped idols. I think that it must have been Ruth’s actions. In Ruth chapter 2 we see that she goes into the fields to gather food for herself and Naomi. Boaz notices her and asks the overseer about her and the overseer praises her diligence and work. HEr actions. Boaz invites her to stay working in his fields. Ruth doesn’t understand! Here she is a unrespectable Moabite, and so she asks why, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” 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.” (Ruth 2:10-12 NIV, emphasis mine). Had Ruth run around proclaiming that she was a respectable character, no one would have respected her! She proved by her actions that she has good character. That she was hardworking, responsible, and persevering. I also suspect that her actions might have shaped her character a bit. I mean, she probably didn’t have to go work in the fields behind the actual workers all day before moving to Israel to take care of Naomi. She has a husband and father for that if they ever were desperate enough, which they might never have been! But she made the choice, gained character, and proven her character; so that Boaz had full confidence in praising her character! Even the fact that she’s chosen to go to him instead of some other (3:10) was another action that proved/shaped her character! So now I challenge you: think about the last decision you made to do something or say something… what kind of character does it show in you? How is it shaping you? And what will your next action be? What kind of character will it prove or build?