“[The book of] Ruth is a portrait of beautiful, noble manhood and womanhood. In a day when movies and television and advertising and the Internet portray masculinity and femininity in the lowest ways, we are in great need of stories that elevate the magnificent meaning of manhood and womanhood. Ruth and Boaz are extraordinary. Men and women today need heroes like this.” – John Piper
My husband and I count our college years as some of the most crucial in our spiritual development. Those were the years that we moved out from under our parent’s wings and when our faith became our own. It’s when the doors of heightened independence flew open and when new worldly temptations fiercely fought for our allegiance. In those formative years we had to decide whether we’d stand strong in our biblical convictions or flounder in the luring sea of compromise.
College life afforded us all kinds of new opportunities, but one of the most influential investments during those years came in the form of a campus pastor and his wife, who sacrificially gave up their time every week to disciple a couple of young adults who sure did have a whole lot of growing in godliness to do.
I’ll never forget our pastor’s parting words nearly every week as he sent us back to campus and into a waiting world.
“Do right,” he would say.
They were just two simple words, but we knew full well the responsibility and conviction they carried. Our wise pastor knew we were about to head into the darkness, and he challenged us to do right – to choose God’s way – when we were tempted to do otherwise.
Twenty-five years later, I still need this reminder.
Sin is all around us, screaming for us to indulge.
It creeps up on us in our weakest moments.
Over time, it weighs us down and makes us all kinds of uncomfortable.
Sometimes it’s one big flop, but often it’s the seemingly small stuff that we justify because we think we can pull it off with minimal damage.
It desensitizes our convictions and tempts us to give in just this once.
It convinces us that it’s more fun to indulge in the moment than it is to invest wisely in the future.
And unfortunately for most of us, sin usually isn’t defeated overnight.
Building a life and legacy of biblical womanhood and manhood – by the power of God living in and through us – comes with a truckload of intentionality. Because Ruth and Boaz had intentionally laid that foundation, it paid off when the stakes were the highest. Ruth’s character – already clearly defined in chapter 2 – tells us that her motives were pure when she entered the threshing floor to lay at Boaz’s feet. And Boaz’s character was equally as defined when he responded to Ruth with remarkable self-control and honor when things could have easily gone another direction. But following through with their level of morality – learning self-control in a way that is holy and honorable to God – definitely didn’t happen by accident, and it won’t happen for us that way either.
The world won’t be shy in fighting for our allegiance, so we must put on the full armor of God. Be careful and on guard, weighing everything against Scripture. Don’t give in to weak and twisted truth, but instead grow in the knowledge of God so we won’t be led astray. There will be a thousand voices calling our names; get quiet long enough to hear His still, small voice that says, “This is the way; walk in it.” It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” ~ Psalm 119:133
Pursue holy living not just for the sake of rule-following, but because there is safety, peace, and joy in living God’s way, because a lost world is watching, and because our Jesus – the One who died in our place – is worthy of it. To flee sin we must actively turn and pursue righteousness. What does that mean? We must set right boundaries, position ourselves in right places, and pursue right relationships – for freedom’s sake and ultimately for the glory of our Father God. Will the world think we’re a little odd? You bet it will, but we’re not living for them. When Christ returns, oh that He may find us doing right as we diligently pursue after Him.
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:21-22
Movies and television and advertising and the Internet will tell you to lower your standards. Your neighbors and maybe even some of your church friends will convince you that a little compromise never hurt anyone.
But girls, decide right now that you’ll do right. And then do it the next day and the day after that. Decide that you’ll turn from the noise and instead run without looking back to the voice of Truth every morning right when your feet hit the floor.
Then don’t become weary in the waiting.
God is for you. He’ll provide what you need at just the right time.
If there’s one thing the book of Ruth is clear on, it’s clear about that.
Oh Jesus, from the inside out would you mold us into honorable vessels. Set us apart. Supernaturally empower us to flee worldly passions. Give us pure and patient hearts, so that Your perfect purposes might be accomplished through us.
Oh yeah, and this…
“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.” – Elisabeth Elliot,
Let’s talk: Is God calling you to “do right” in a specific area of your life but you’ve struggled to trust Him? What first step of obedience can you take in this area today?
At His feet,