The Best Way to Ignore the People Around You2
[Boaz said] “I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it.”
Ruth has just made a “proposal” of sorts. She has asked Boaz to bring her into his family as the guardian redeemer.
By ancient Jewish law, if a woman was widowed she was supposed to be brought in (most often through marriage) to the extended family so that she would not suffer a lifetime of poverty and isolation.
But Boaz tells her that there’s someone in the family line who’s more closely related than he is. In theory, that person should have already intervened to help Naomi and Ruth. Boaz is going to honor that man, even though he has not acted particularly honorably given the situation.
In this story, we’ve got two upstanding human beings, worthy of emulation. Ruth demonstrates remarkable courage and Boaz here sings of her well-known noble character. Boaz himself demonstrates noble character as he’s going to do the right thing by giving the man first in line the right of first refusal.
Ruth and Boaz show us what happens when God brings two people of noble character together. But they also show us what it means to be committed to being people of noble character regardless of whether or not the people around us respond to it as we’d hope.
When we’re living our lives with God as our primary reference point, we are surrendered to the Spirit’s work of shaping our character and steadfastly demonstrating noble character in any and every situation, the best of our ability.
We are not noble only when the people around us are noble. That’s giving the people around us way too much power over us and our actions and our character. Why would we want to do that?
For some of us, the most life-changing thing we could do would be to orient our character and our actions around God, ignore what the people around us are or aren’t doing, and watch what the Lord does in us, through us, and sometimes around us.
What do you think it means for you to demonstrate noble character today? How are you tempted to allow the people around you to dictate how noble you will be? What do you think it means to live and act with God as your primary reference point instead of the quality of the people around you?