Whether we realize it or not, people really do know what we're like, and they could probably sum it up in one word. In the sweet story of Ruth, we remember that Ruth, her mother-in-law, and sister-in-law had all lost their husbands. Ruth's love for her mother-in-law drives her to return to Bethlehem to be near Naomi, and to be enabled to worship Naomi's God.
As Ruth gleans in the field of Boaz, he addresses her and tells her what people knew of her. In Ruth 3:11 Boaz says, "all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman." How did they know that? Ruth hadn't been in Bethlehem for very long. Ruth 2 says,
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
- They saw how she treated others. Ruth was the "new kid on the job" when she came to glean in the field. She put others before herself and acted in humility. Do you treat others with respect and preference? Do you humble yourself to be taught by others who have more experience than you?
- They saw that we was a hard worker. She worked from morning until evening, "tarrying little in the house." She didn't take long breaks. She knew there was work to do, and she stayed after it in order to make the most of her day. Are you thankful for the work you have to do, or do you complain about it? I'm not just referring to your job outside of the home, but what about housework, laundry and meals? Are your responsibilities taken care of with joy - or griping? If you do work outside the home, do you linger too long on break? Do you come in late? Do you take privileges you shouldn't?
- They saw how she treated Naomi. There was love, tenderness, kindness, thoughtfulness, and humility. Hmmm, a good lesson for all of us who have a mother-in-law. We married her son. She gave us a precious gift! Are we thoughtful of her? When was the last time you suggested that your husband take his mom out for breakfast or lunch? She'd love to have him all to herself for a little while.Even if she lives out of town, encourage him to call and just talk with her. Do you remember her birthday, because your husband probably wouldn't? If she's up in years, do you care for her needs as much as possible? Perhaps just treating her the way you would want your daughter-in-law to treat you will help you respond to her with a special kind of love.
There are so many wonderful lessons in the book of Ruth, but stopping to think about our own reputation could change the way we spend today. Take a moment and consider the way you treat others, your work ethic, and the way you treat your mother-in-law. What improvements do you need to ask the Lord to help you make today?
May all in the city know that we are virtuous women.