Time for another SOAP Notes devotional!
If you aren’t sure what I am referencing, see this post for a full explanation of this series!
Today’s key scripture is Ruth 3:11
S: And now, my daughter, fear not. I will do for you all you require, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of strength (worth, bravery, capability).
O: Notice that this passage does not say that all the people in the city understand who she truly is, but that all of the Lord’s people in the city understand her and recognize the qualities she possesses. Ruth demonstrated extraordinary character* and that she put value in the Lord’s opinion, and not the opinion of the world.
*Note: The full weight of this woman’s character is not recognized without knowing the context of the previous 2 chapters. Ruth was not an Israelite or follower of the Lord by birth. She married into a family that followed the Lord. After some time, her husband, her sister-in-law’s husband, and her father-in-law all passed away. Her mother-in-law encouraged both of her daughter-in-laws to return to their family and home. While the one widow chose to do so, Ruth chose to stay and return with her mother-in-law to her home. Ruth chose to be part of God’s people on her own, even after her husband passed away and her mother-in-law gave her permission to return to her own family. She chose instead to stay with her mother-in-law and under the authority of the Lord Yahweh rather than return to former ways.
Once she returned with her mother-in-law to her home, they were left in a very vulnerable position. Long story short, they had to be careful, as you can imagine, of being taken advantage of since there was no male authority guarding them. They also had to fend for themselves for food. Ruth demonstrated courage and kindness by taking on the task of collecting food for both herself and her mother-in-law so that her mother-in-law could stay at home. The way that they got food was by collecting what fell in the field after the workers went though. People took note of the way Ruth conducted herself and the choices she made. Without her knowing it, this opened the door for her to collect her food safely under the direct order of the man who would later become her husband.
A: Reputation is built long before opportunity presents itself. Ruth was faithful in all circumstances, good and bad, and earned favor with the Lord and in the eyes of His people. Her example is a reminder that we should also seek to be the right person in advance and at all times, not just when it is easy or serves us well. When we do, we set ourselves (and those around us) up for blessing and success. By choosing to remain under the authority of the Lord, and also to care for her widowed mother-in-law, she ended up in a position that granted not only her, but also her mother-in-law as well, a way of security and privilege in the midst of potential harm.
P: Lord, may we remain faithful to You regardless of the appearance of our situation, intentionally forsaking the things of this world. Remind us that Your opinion matters more than all others, and those who follow You will understand our choices and place value on us for our faithfulness. May we not be disheartened when the world does not understand. In times when we are tempted to take shortcuts, remind us that our actions have an impact on those around us, not merely on us. May we seek to honor You and the position You have entrusted us with in service to others. Amen.
I cannot leave without saying how beautiful I find the many lessons which are found within the book of Ruth. It is a very short book with only 4 chapters tucked between the very… ummmm… disturbing book of Judges and the weighty book of 1 Samuel. I encourage you to revisit it if you have not done so in a while.