Developing Character with Ruth

» Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in character development | 0 comments

Developing Character with Ruth

What do you spend your time thinking about?
Where does your mind wander?
What are the predominant emotions that flavor your days?

The Bible is replete with stories of individuals who changed their destiny because they changed their thinking. Developing character with Ruth, we see how she was encouraged by Naomi, her mother-in-law, to return to her mother’s house after the death of her husband, but refused and stuck with Naomi instead:

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following after you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. –Ruth 1:16-18 

                                                                   –James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

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Piano in the center of a traffic circle in Tzfat, Israel, March 2012.

Changing your circumstances requires willingness to change yourself. Rejecting her upbringing and attaching herself to Naomi in spite of Naomi’s bitterness to her experiences in Moab really demonstrates the changes in Ruth’s thinking. Something in the way Naomi treated her in the intervening years must have captured Ruth’s heart, and she reciprocated in kindness to her mother-in-law.

                                                                          –James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Ruth harmonized her thoughts with Naomi, they became pure through their suffering, and so the two of them together changed their circumstances by changing their thinking.

Paul echoes this idea in Philippians 4:8-9:

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Stone tile pictures found at the Church of the Beatitudes in Israel, March 2012.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Conquering doubt and fear conquers failure.

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. —Job 3:25

If you believe that God is sovereign, then you can understand Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So then, nothing bad happens to us. We are the ones who call it either good or bad. As Shakespeare said,

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Steps leading down to the well at the excavation site at Megiddo, Israel, March 2012.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. –Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

Things that happen are the effects of thinking. When things happen consider what they mean not whether they are good or bad.

 The steps of a good man are ordered of the LORD. –Psalm 37:23

Think about what is God trying to teach, show, illustrate, or maneuver into your life.

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View of the Mediterranean Sea from the ruins at Caesarea, Israel, March 2012.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. –James 1:5-8

What is the worst that can happen? If you believe that God is sovereign, and that everything happens to you for good, how can you say that your experiences are bad? If you continually try and appear to continually fail, what is going on? Naomi explained in great detail to Ruth that even if she was to marry again, would Ruth be willing to wait until the child was old enough to marry? But God had a better plan.

Even if you fail again and again to accomplish your purpose (which you must to overcome your weakness), the strength of character gained will be the measure of your true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph. –James Allen

Developing character with Ruth, we see how this is true.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1:2-4

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Tower of David in Old Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

Ruth endured the bitter circumstances of Naomi’s life. She could have returned to her mother’s household just like Orpah, but she did not. She chose to cling to Naomi and so became the great grandmother of King David.

To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve. –James Allen

We can create into existence anything we think.

 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  –Heb. 11:1, 3, and 6

Weaving all these concepts together, we see that Ruth’s kindness to Naomi attracted the kindness of Boaz, whose kindness to Ruth got the attention of Naomi, prompting her to say to Ruth:

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Table spread at the Nazareth Village in anticipation of an authentic meal served in the first century, Israel, March 2012.

My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”  –Ruth 3:1-5

James Allen says it this way:

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart–this you will build your life by, this you will become. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life–a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the eternal calm! –James Allen

What happened to Ruth in the end of the story?

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Inscription on the walls of Old Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. –Ruth 4:13-17

Reflect on the example of Ruth as you are thinking about your own circumstances. Suffering provided the opportunity for developing character in her that attracted someone that was able to resolve not only her situation but her mother-in-law’s as well. Obtaining serenity in her soul FIRST produced the beautiful vision she cherished in her heart. Finding that place of peace inside of her resulted in ushering in a new generation, producing hope for herself, her immediate family, and her chosen people.

Changing her thinking resulted in changing her circumstances, and subsequently, her life.

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