Wednesday, March 23, 2011
attraction to virtue
And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.
This is the most moving part of the story of this book. In the third chapter of the book of Ruth, Naomi coaches Ruth through a bold marriage proposal. It hinges on Boaz already being aware of and impressed with Ruth and her situation. Naomi is already trusting God again! She moved beyond her bitterness in the second chapter, moved by the sovereign love of God at work in her situation. Now she is a woman of faith again.
Basically, the odd marriage proposal comes from Ruth to Boaz. At the threshing floor she sneaks in among the sleeping men (the men slept at the floor to guard the grain from pilfering... ironic that she could sneak up on these tough farmers!) and lays at the feet of Boaz. He awakens in the night and is startled at her presence. It is then that Ruth asks Boaz to assume the legal duties of kinsman-redeemer. She is asking the man to marry and care for her. And Boaz assures her that he will settle the matter the very next day by approaching the other "closer" relative. That is the summary of the statement in Ruth 3:11.
The concept at stake predates the giving of the law. It is the practice of levirate marriage, in which, the brother of a dead brother is bound to marry the widowed bride of his brother. If there were no living brothers, the duty to the family was passed to close relatives. This insured family inheritances and duties. And it is this practice that Ruth appeals to with Boaz. And he is honored to perform it because he is impressed with Ruth's character! She has a reputation... and it is a good one. She is a "worthy woman"... the same Hebrew phrase used in Proverbs 31:10 to describe an "excellent wife". Boaz was a man of character, and he was attracted to virtue.
How we need to recapture this sort of thing among believers! Our young people need to know that physical attraction without this character conviction is just emotional lust, and should be avoided. A good relationship is built on character commitments, not just the way a person looks or their station in life. God wants to keep building a godly generation, and to do so, He needs people of character and commitment. It starts with relationships that are committed to character, spiritual growth, and the beauty of virtue and holy lives. These relationships keep Christ central in the home and are blessed with the presence of God guiding them.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13