Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Value of a Reputation


“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” – Ruth 3:10

Boaz had fallen asleep at the threshing floor at the bottom of the mountain of grain that had been harvested from his field.  But he wakes in the middle of the night to find young Ruth lying awake at his feet.  And this beautiful young woman had uncovered his feet, which was an intimate gesture.  Naturally, he was shocked!  When he asked her who she was she replied “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”

Ruth proposed marriage to Boaz, but not just for the sake of being married.  When she requested that he take her under his wing, which meant he would provide and protect her, she asked him to do so because he was “a close relative”.  In this verse the word relative is the Hebrew word ga'al (Strongs Hebrew 1350), which means to redeem, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman”.   

Ruth was a beautiful young woman, and Boaz was much older.  She could have married a young man for love, or for money.  But instead she wanted to marry Boaz and have him give her a child so that she could continue the heritage of her late husband and mother-in-law Naomi.  For Ruth, marriage was a noble cause. 

Boaz was blown away at her proposal!  He says to her in Ruth 3:10-11, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

The statement that she had “shown more kindness at the end than in at the beginning” was referring to her widowed mother-in-law.  Not only had Ruth travelled from her homeland to be with Naomi and take care of her, now she wanted to provide Naomi with the gift no one else could give: a grandchild. 

The most unselfish thing you can do is to change your plan for your life for someone else.  We only get one set of days.  To give up any of them for someone else is an act of love.  Ruth was doing that in marrying Boaz.  He being older, she knew that one day she would be widowed, and most likely in the prime of her life.  But Ruth had put her own will aside to do Naomi’s will.  When they planned this night and this proposal together, Ruth told Naomi, “All that you say to me I will do”.  Ruth was a Proverbs 31 kind of woman.  Boaz tells Ruth that “all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

He was more than happy to redeem her, but there was another closer relative that would have first rights to her.  If that relative was not willing to marry her, Boaz agreed to do so.  He then told her to lie down and sleep till morning.  Even then she did not lie at his side, which would have indicated a desire for sexual relations.  She continued to lie at his feet.  And again Ruth’s character is shown when she gets up early in the morning before anyone could recognize her and starts home. 

Reputations are born out of character.  Someone once said “Character is who you are when no one is looking.  It’s easy to please people when they’re right in front of you.  Anyone can act the way they are supposed to for a short time.  But character comes from the heart.  Character is who you truly are.  And when it is very good, or very bad, you develop a reputation.  Instead of being known just by your name, you become known by the kind of person you are.

But reputations are easily tainted as well.  They’re not based on a resume of good works.  They’re based only on what each person watching sees in you.  To people at your church, you may seem like the strongest Christian they know.  But what does your family see when you’re in the comfort of your home?  The people that you work with may have a completely different outlook on your reputation than those that know you from church.  When a reputation is divided by groups like this, it borders on hypocrisy (ouch!  No Christian likes that word!).

Having a good reputation is WORK - plain and simple!  It’s not just caring what others think of you, it’s caring what kind of person God sees you to be.  It’s striving to do better than the day before, to control your tongue (ouch!), assuring that you “do no harm”, holding your temper, helping others, and handling the problems that come at you with prayers for strength, wisdom, and the heart of God.  It’s praying “God, give me your eyes so I can see me from your point of view”. 

God revealed to me just this past Sunday that as so many of us go to church, sit in the pews and “Amen!” the sermon, very few of us take it personally.  We always assume the message is for someone else.  We’re like Teflon coated Christians – nothing sticks!  Friends, if the message is ALWAYS for someone else, you should worry!  God correct HIS children. Proverbs 3:12 says “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

God is concerned about your reputation.  A child is a reflection of their parents.  He will give you correction to turn you around.  In 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 it says “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” 

It’s as simple as asking, “God, who am I in your eyes?”  That’s your true character.  That’s your most valuable reputation.


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