A Mini Seminar on Respectful Language – Step 2
To help us realize that our ability to have good relationships is affected by how we value others.
The Book of Ruth
Wedged between the relational fiasco's of Samson in Judges and the constant strife between Saul and David in 1st Samuel, we find an oasis. It is not one of water in the desert but one of exceptional interpersonal principles displayed in the story of Ruth. The book of Ruth describes the marriage of a young Moabitess named Ruth and a Jewish landowner named Boaz. The marriage itself is touched on only as a matter of fact for it is the courtship and the background of the major characters that are the focus of the story. While the theological value of the book is found in the redemptive act of Boaz and the faith of Ruth and Naomi, the oasis we find is based on a number of relational principles demonstrated throughout the story by each of the major characters. The purpose of this paper is to bring each principle to the surface and highlight it. To do this have the class read the book of Ruth and try to identify the and attitudes of the major characters toward others. Have them report out on each major character. Here is my summary if you need to fill in.
Send group out to read Ruth. Collect reports on a white board when they come back.
Key Messages for each character:
Naomi: Always looking out for the good of the other:
Naomi was an older woman who lost her husband and sons. In her day, the wives of her sons would have been living with her and in submission to her. When the men were lost, Naomi could have controlled the lives of the daughter in laws for her own provision, but instead she had their best interests at heart. She demonstrated this in Ruth 1:11 when she released her daughters in law from her to remarry. She did this despite the fact that she needed their help and loved them. Because of the times, the release meant separation. And it was clear from her tears that she would miss them. We all know how a woman values her relational roots. For Naomi this was a selfless act. Naomi shows this principle again in Ruth 3:1 when she coordinates Ruth's approach to Boaz. Ruth marriage will be at her own expense.
Boaz: Always protecting and building up another's dignity
Boaz was an older land owner who in Ruth 2:6 demonstrates mercy and generosity by giving Ruth a place among his servants even though she is a foreigner and does not deserve it. Further when he learns of her faithfulness in caring for Naomi, he rewards it and asks God to bless her. Boaz goes on in Chapter 2, to treat her special by sharing his dinner with her and extends further dignity to her by ordering his men to "accidentally" leave more grain un-harvested so her gleaning is more successful. He also sends her away early in the morning from the threshing floor to protect her reputation. Boaz also shows that his desire to honor others also extends to men. Once he learns that Ruth is interested in being married, he is quick to honor the rights of another by holding up in public that mans right to redeem Ruth first.
Ruth: Always loyal, faithful, caring and submissive.
Ruth was a younger woman who demonstrates significant loyalty by staying with Naomi despite the fact that she has been released. She does this to care for Naomi despite having to leave her homeland and her relational roots. She works hard to support Naomi instead of "running" with the other younger woman. In Chapter 3 Ruth demonstrates submission to Naomi by following her instructions on approaching Boaz. She also demonstrates faith that her actions will have the intended effect. In the end these aspects of Ruth's noble character are spoken of by Boaz to the others in the town.
In the final paragraphs of Ruth we find the Lord blessing the lives of Boaz, Ruth and Naomi. Ruth is said to have been better than 7 sons, Naomi is said to have been renewed and sustained and Boaz became famous and had a son who was counted in the lineage of Christ. Not bad for people who simply treated others as more valuable than themselves.
Ask the following questions
Our society teaches us to compete with others for just about everything and this is one reason why we have trouble valuing others. If you are like me and have trouble with this. Consider Phil 4:19 … If it is truly our Lord that meets our needs, why not value others instead of resenting them for competing against us. From such a view you can only gain.
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