Do you know any bitter people? Complainers, self-pitiers? These are not the kind of people we generally choose to spend time around … and especially not the sort we want to accompany on a long journey. And yet, that’s just what Ruth chose. Naomi was so bitter, even she knew how bitter she had become!
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” ~ Ruth 1:20 NIV
Naomi renamed herself in her bitterness … and yet, as I shared with you last week, Ruth was loyal to her mother-in-law. In fact, she went beyond any reasonable expectation and did more than provide for Naomi, she honored and esteemed her. Can you imagine graciously submitting to your deceased husband’s mother who had become a crabby woman? And yet, Ruth did just that!
And then, this foreign widow, at the encouragement of her mother-in-law, offers herself to a man she barely knows … willingly trusting his judgment and submitting to his directions. Certainly Boaz had extended Ruth great kindnesses and been more than generous in his dealings with her, but her attitude toward him went far beyond gratitude, she submitted herself to him and trusted him to act on her behalf.
Why? Why would she trust these two people who were so very different culturally and religiously from her? What would motivate her to submit herself to their authority? While Scripture provides us no clear-cut answers to these questions, a quick examination of Ruth chapter 2 provides us with insights into the nature of Ruth’s character and confidence in placing herself under the protection and authority of Naomi and Boaz.
- Ruth’s Gentleness. Her demeanor was gentle. So much so, that other noticed – from Boaz’s field workers to others in the community (2:11).
- Ruth’s Generosity. She chose to provide for her mother-in-law and was a hard worker to do so. In addition, she saved a portion of her meal to give to Naomi (2:14).
- Ruth’s Gratitude. Ruth expressed her genuine appreciation for Naomi and for Boaz’s kindness to her (2:13).
Aren’t those the keys to any heart of submission? A gentle demeanor that offers grace and kindness to others. A generous heart that seeks the well-being of others before its own. And a grateful spirit that expresses appreciation and love for the gifts and graces given.
As this new week begins, perhaps the Lord is speaking to your heart about this idea of submission. Maybe this is a concept you have struggled with or fought against … but may I encourage you with this one idea:
Submission is not about actions completed, words spoken, or arguments won … submission is about a heart changed to love others more than self.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 NIV
What is the Lord speaking into your life about submission?