The book of Ruth is one of the most beloved books in the Bible and contains a wealth of wisdom and godly knowledge we can still learn from today. Here are 10 lessons that the story of Ruth teaches us.
#1 Remember to Bless Others Even in Your Own Struggles
Naomi had moved into the region of Moab with her husband and her two sons. Both of her sons married in the land, but over time they both died, along with Naomi’s husband. This was a terribly difficult time for her.
However, when Naomi decided to return to Israel, she still sought the good of her daughters-in-law. In Ruth 1:8-9, she tells them to return to their homeland. Even though she still loved them and they loved her, she thought it would be best for them to stay in Moab. Naomi put their needs above hers and gave them the option to stay.
#2 Remain Loyal to God in All Things
However, when Orpah (one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law) opted to return to Moab, Ruth did not. Ruth 1:16-17 paints the beautiful portrait of Ruth’s loyalty and devotion not only to Naomi but also to the God of Israel. She remained loyal to her mother-in-law, who would have been the only family either one of them would have.
#3 Always Do the Next Right Thing in Your Circumstances
As soon as they had returned to Bethlehem, Ruth volunteered to gather grain for Naomi and herself (Ruth 2:2). This was not for any paying job as a hired hand; instead, this was gathering what she could from the leftovers of the harvest. Widows had no means to provide for themselves in ancient Israel, and if they had no other male family, the only way they could even get food to eat was to depend on the generosity of others. This is exactly what Ruth did: she wasn’t certain how much she could get or exactly where it would come from, but she was willing to put in however much work was necessary to provide for herself and her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:6-7).
#4 We Should Generously Provide for Others and Recognize Their Service to God
Boaz, who later plays a huge role in Ruth’s life, begins his relationship by being a generous landowner. He greets his hired workers and servants with kindness (Ruth 2:4) and inquires about those who are gleaning behind them (gathering the leftovers). When he heard about Ruth’s story, he makes sure that she is safe, provided for and cared for (Ruth 2:8-9). Later, he even instructs his workers to leave some grain behind for her so she would have plenty to take home (Ruth 2:15-16).
He also acknowledges her loyalty to Naomi and seeks to bless her for her devotion to her family and to God (Ruth 2:11-12).
#5 Recognize When God Provides for You
When Ruth returned home with a large amount of wheat and Naomi asked where it came from, Ruth told of how Boaz had cared for her. Naomi praised God for His provision and told Ruth that Boaz was a distant relative in their family (Ruth 2:18-20).
She also instructed Ruth to stay with Boaz – not only for her own safety but also to honor his generosity and service (Ruth 2:22-23). She rightly recognized that God had put Ruth in that situation for her good and had provided for her.
#6 Seek the Best for Those in Your Life
Even though Ruth had faithfully served and provided for Naomi, Naomi still wanted Ruth to build for own life with someone to care for her (Ruth 3:1). It was then that she reminded Ruth has Boaz was her kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 3:2).
In biblical times, the kinsman-redeemer refers to a male relative who had the responsibility and privilege of acting on behalf of a relative who was in need. The Hebrew term denotes someone who delivers or rescues. Boaz was the kinsman-redeemer for Ruth’s family; he was responsible not only for providing for Naomi and Ruth (as he had by giving Ruth enough leftover grain to harvest), but also to provide for the rest of her life and even marry her.
Naomi knew Boaz’s character and believed he would take that responsibility seriously. With this in mind, she further knew that this would improve Ruth’s life and serve her, just as she had served Naomi. She instructed Ruth to get herself ready and act in such a way as to invite Boaz to care for her (Ruth 3:3-6).
#7 Treat Others with Respect and Loving Care
Ruth obeyed Naomi’s instructions and informed Boaz that she knew of his kinsman-redeemer status. This involved visiting Boaz’s threshing floor at night and asking him to symbolically spread his garment over her. Rather than take advantage of Ruth’s vulnerability, Boaz praised her character and even recognized her devotion to him as a relative. She could have pursued another man, but instead, she sought to remain within their clan (Ruth 3:9-11).
He also freely acknowledged that, while he was perfectly willing to redeem her, there was another closer relative that had the initial right of kinsman-redeemer, and that he deserved the right to redeem her first (Ruth 3:12-13). He was ready to accept her as she was, but he was also obedient to God’s laws concerning matters like this.
Even though he was waiting for the right moment and circumstances to redeem her, he still protected her reputation and provided generously for her needs (Ruth 3:14-15).
#8 Wait for God’s Timing and Follow His Commands
At the first availably opportunity, Boaz spoke with the nearer kinsman-redeemer and offered him the right to redeem Ruth. This took place during a routine real estate transaction (Ruth 4:2-4). Boaz deferred to the kinsman redeemer’s right to purchase a piece of property that belonged to Naomi’s dead husband. This was an honorable action, as well as informing the man that he would also have to take Ruth to be his wife in order to maintain the family name (Ruth 2:5).
When the kinsman-redeemer refused to marry Ruth (Ruth 4:6) and gave Boaz permission to do so, they engaged in another ritual that let the nearer relative abdicate his right and transfer the responsibility to Boaz (Ruth 4:7-12). This ritual required a public statement in front of the elders that Boaz was willing to take the necessary actions to redeem Ruth and marry her. Boaz did so without hesitation, honoring his word to Ruth and his obligations as kinsman-redeemer.
Boaz not only waited for God’s timing, but his actions also showed a life yielded to obeying God’s will. He could have married Ruth immediately, but he submitted to God’s ordinances about the closer relative. Then when the time was right, he did everything publicly so that his honor and Ruth’s character were protected, and the village elders blessed him for it (Ruth 4:11-12).
#9 Celebrate When God Provides for You
Ruth and Boaz were married, and they started a family together. Naomi blessed them both when their firstborn son came and praised God for bringing them together (Ruth 4:13-15).
We should all be quick to look to God when we are blessed with good things in this life. God orchestrates every part of our lives to bring us closer to Him and to accomplish His will, and our part is simply to recognize His hand moving and to praise Him for it all.
#10 Remember That God Can Use You for Things You May Not See Yet
Ruth and Boaz’s genealogy later included King David, the greatest king that Israel would ever know (Ruth 4:21). They likely did not live long enough to see David’s reign, but this is proof that God may be working things in your life that will play out for His will in generations long after yours. Be obedient, be patient, and be willing to let God use you.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.