A television commercial asks, “What do you reach for when you are stressed?” Then it suggests, “Reach for (our product)”. Now, let us ask this question to ourselves, "What do we reach for when we are stressed?
The world uses many different concepts to deal with stress. Today, people are overcome with different forms of stress. This stress sometimes results in people blaming God, cursing their lives, trying to go after immoral ways etc. to enable the mind to overcome such stress. This may be an easy way to get rid of such uncomfortable moments, but, they are just temporary means of escaping our problems and getting peace. No man-made product we reach for can ever truly and completely take stress away.
The Bible has got many examples of people who underwent intense stress. One such example is Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite (of the country of Moab), a woman who had left her parents and relatives after her marriage. Death took her husband away and left her a poor widow woman, and a stranger. She is a good representative of a person who had so many circumstances seeming to work against her. Ruth is a clear example as one who had to undergo many types of stress, which are also common in our lives.
In Ruth chapter 3 we read that the people of God testify that Ruth was a virtuous woman (For all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman Ruth ). Please notice that it is a testimony of the people of God about a gentile, Moabite women. She is being testified as virtuous – a model to both men and women without any distinction between Christians or non-Christians. Let us look at the following aspects of virtue:
1.Virtue begins with a good companion
2.Virtue grows with a decision
3.Virtue exhibits a wise response
4.Virtue demands hard work
1. Virtue begins with a good companion: Ruth was called a virtuous woman and we see that she had a good companion who was playing many important roles standing behind the screen. Who was it? It was not her husband, who already passed away a few days back, but it was her mother in law. Her name was Naomi which means pleasant, but her life was unpleasant with innumerous unexpected failures of her family’s unwise decisions. However she tried to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord despite all those agonies that had passed her by. These challenges in the life of her mother-in-law are what influenced the life of this young Moabite woman. She followed the footprints of her mother-in-law in order to be virtuous in the sight of God and other people. The God of Naomi became the God of Ruth. This influenced her to serve and love Naomi unconditionally, and was one of the factors on account of which she was called a virtuous woman.
2.Virtue grows with a decision:When we read Ruth 1:15-16, we may have to look carefully at certain things to understand the depth of the words that she uttered in this verse. Some of them were related to her weaknesses. She is a woman, who left her family, people, land, culture, etc. Now such a woman takes a bold step in her life to teach us a great lesson. To be virtuous in the sight of the Lord, community, family, friends, etc, she may have to reject certain things and receive other things. Money, position, prosperity, power, etc. are not the criteria for the Lord to see you and me as virtuous; rather He looks at our heart. Are you really eligible to stand in the community of the people of God to be testified as virtuous?
3.Virtue exhibits a wise response: Ruth had a good companion whom she loved, obeyed, followed, and served whole heartedly. Now her bold response to her mother-in-law demands her to be a virtuous. It explained in the same book.
a. Entreat me not to leave thee, to return from following after thee: Request (Heart)
b. For whither thou goest, I will go: Goal (Mental)
c. Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: Live (Mental)
d. Thy people shall be my people (Social)
e. Thy God my God (Divine)
f. Where thou diest, will I die (Physical)
g. There will I be buried, the LORD do so to me (Divine and Physical)
h. If ought but death part thee and me – her Final response
Really, true virtue exhibits through our response.
4. Virtue demands hard work: Ruth 2:2, “Please let me go to the field”, “So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house” (2:7), It was one of her best attitudes that followed throughout her life. She was a hard working woman; that was not just for her survival alone but even extended to the needs of her mother-in-law. What she gained within a day was sufficient for two women to live more than 5 days. Dear brothers and sisters, it is not easy to be called as virtuous. It demands hard work. Remember the Scripture says:A virtuous woman, her price is above rubies. (Pro.31: 10), A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband (Pro.12: 4).Let us strive hard to live for others, who are in need, helpless, etc. Ruth achieved a good name with all those characteristics and that is why she was called: “A VIRTUOUS WOMAN”.
As the world runs faster than the previous decades with all its new found technologies, there are situations that would cause us to be stressed, depressed, upset and sad. Let us follow the example of Ruth whose life we have just seen. A person with many problems; financial problems (Working hard in the field belonging to someone else), material problems (without her own land), social problems (without her parents and people) etc. But she possessed an important thing that every one of us must aspire to. It was her faith in the God of Naomi. That turned all her negatives into positives, trials into triumphs, stresses into success. Here Ruth remains as an example to all those of us who are stressed by various situations and circumstances. Our master says: “Cast your burdens unto Him”. Let us do so to glorify His name.