Humble Heroes: Ruth

This is the first post in the latest Mayfair blog series: Humble Heroes! Each post will briefly explore one Biblical hero who demonstrated humility or glorified God despite a “humble position” in life.
Ruth’s Story can be found in in the Book of Ruth.

Ruth is one of the few Biblical women to “star” in her own story—and one of two to have her own book of the Bible! The story is Ruth is just four chapters, but there is so much good stuff packed in there. One of the most talked about quality of Ruth is her faithfulness. At the beginning of the story, Ruth demonstrates loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi. She famously says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

We should talk about Ruth’s faithfulness. We should preach sermons about how Ruth’s resolve mimics God’s faithfulness in the story, how God is fiercely loyal and provides for us. While all those are good messages, there is humility at the heart of Ruth’s faithfulness. To be faithful and loyal to someone else means you have to give up a part of yourselves.

Self-sacrifice born from a humble heart is explicitly linked with following God. Jesus commands in Matthew 16:24-25, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” If you want to follow Jesus, leave your “self” at the door.
Naomi offered Ruth a chance to have a life. Ruth’s husband, Naomi’s son, had died and left her childless. In that society, Ruth would be pretty much bottom of the food chain. Without a husband, there wasn’t much she could do to fend for herself. The best option to fix her own position would be to marry someone else. However, Ruth chooses to remain with Naomi and go to Naomi’s homeland. Ruth is a Moabite, and Naomi is an Israelite, so by going to Israel, Ruth further steps away from any life of ease.

In a foreign land, with no way to earn an income, and needing to take care of her elderly mother-in-law, Ruth does what she can. She gleans leftover wheat from a field of a man named Boaz. Boaz favors her and tells his workers to leave behind extra for her. The text then says, “At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, ‘Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?’” (2:10) She follows up later by saying, “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants” (2:13).

Ruth demonstrates remarkable humility in her gesture and gratefulness. In the text, we never once find Ruth complaining. More often, she is rejoicing at the good things that have happened to her. And to top it off, so humbly recognizes that Boaz’s slaves are more valuable than her.
But her humility pays off. Boaz gives her more food than she can eat, with leftovers given to Naomi. Later, of course, Ruth marries Boaz and takes care of them. Ruth then becomes a major part of Israel’s story, being an ancestor of David and Jesus. All of this occurs because she denied herself, remained faithful, and humbly evaluated her position. There is much to glean from Ruth’s humble example.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Ruth decided to go with Naomi instead of getting married to someone else and starting her life?
  • If you were in her situation, do you think you would make the same choice Ruth did?
  • What do you admire most about Ruth?
  • Which of Ruth’s best traits do you need to work on in yourself?
  • How is your character and spiritual life challenged by Ruth's story?
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1 Comment

Daniel Grant - February 18th, 2023 at 2:53pm

Can I use this beautiful picture of Ruth for a sermon I'm working on??