A guest post by Timberly Gray of Living Our Priorities.
We are living in a time where integrity is often compromised in exchange for worldly gain.
However, the book of Ruth reminds us how God honors integrity.
Years ago, when I was in the real estate business and the market crashed, I remember observing agents conduct business with unethical practices to make a buck.
To be honest, I struggled, watching them compromise their integrity and make more money than me (so it seemed). Until, one night at bible study, I heard the pastor say…
“Integrity pays. What you compromise to gain you will eventually lose.”
Immediately, The Holy Spirit convicted my heart to no longer be concerned about what others were doing; but continue working in a manner that honors God. That obedience eventually opened doors for me to walk in the purpose God has for my life.
You see, integrity does pay! And what I love about the story of Ruth in the Bible, is seeing how God honors and rewards integrity.
Who Was Ruth in the Bible?
If you’ve been in church for a while, you’ve probably read the story of Ruth in the Bible. An old testament story about a widowed woman whose redemption comes through marriage to a wealthy man. You may be asking yourself, “What did Ruth do in the Bible?”
Ruth’s story is deeper – there is so much more to her story. The story of Ruth in the Bible begins with a family (Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and 2 sons) who left Bethlehem because of a famine in the land and moved to the country Moab.
The two sons married mobite women; Orpah and Ruth. Then the unthinkable happens: Elimelech and his two sons died.
Naomi pleaded with her two daughter-in-laws to return to their home town. After much hesitation, Orpah chose to return home. However, Ruth chose NOT to abandon her mother-in-law and stay. (Ruth Chapter 1)
That decision of loyalty and responsibility is what set Ruth apart with the remarkable character of integrity. Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law was evident in her work ethic, which caught the attention of the rich man’s field, she was working in (Boaz – found in Ruth Chapters 2 & 3)
Boaz noticed Ruth’s tremendous honor, love and respect for Naomi, which led to her redemption in marriage to Boaz in chapter 4.
The blessings and reward for Ruth’s integrity did not stop at her redemption through marriage. Rather the children she would bear that would affect all future generations – the lineage of our Savior.
And that, my friends, is what we should be taking away from the story of Ruth in the Bible.
Guess what! This post is part of a series on Great Women of the Bible.
Be sure to check out all of the other posts in this series here: 15 Great Women of the Bible Every Christian Woman Should Study.
4 Lessons We Can Learn From Ruth in the Bible About Integrity
1. How we respond to circumstances determines our outcome.
Orpah and Ruth had a decision to make in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. And the way they responded is what determined their outcome. Notice, we never hear about Orpah after she chose to return home.
On the other hand, Ruth, made the decision to stay, regardless of her present circumstance. And that set things in motion for her to play a pivotal role in the lineage of our Savior’s birth (Ruth Chapter 4).
Practical Application: How many times have we made decisions only later to regret the decision we made? Often times that happens when we give more weight to circumstances than the God we serve.
The next time you’re faced with difficult decisions, purpose to pray and consider the God you serve before you consider the circumstance. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” ~ Philippians 4:16 (NLT)
2. Character Precedes Conduct
Conducting ourselves in a manner that honors God begins in our hearts. I like the way John Maxwell Leadership Bible words it, our character precedes our conduct.
In order for Ruth to conduct herself in a manner that reflected integrity, she had to first possess that character within her. Integrity was rooted in the depth of who Ruth was; therefore, her conduct or her work-ethic, organically reflected her character. “One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” ~ Ruth 2:2 (NLT)
Practical Application: When we come to know God’s character in our hearts, it will become a part of what we do and what we say. As a result, others will witness our character through our actions, like Ruth.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
3. Faithfulness Bears Fruitfulness
When our character is embedded in our heart’s, it will be reflected in our conduct. And when we are consistent with our conduct, our faithfulness will bear fruit.
All throughout the book of Ruth in the Bible, we see the faithfulness to Ruth’s remarkable character of integrity. Her integrity was not only noticed, but it placed her in a position to receive blessings. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward
you fully for what you have done.” ~ Ruth 2:12 (NLT)
Practical Application: To put ourselves in a position for fruitfulness, we must be faithful in our conduct of integrity no matter our circumstances.
I can’t say this enough, integrity pays. God is not unrighteous to overlook your integrity.
4. Our Integrity Affects Future Generations
God not only restored Ruth with a husband, and provision for her and her mother-in-law Naomi. God used Ruth as a vessel, playing a huge part in the lineage of our savior.
After Boaz and Ruth were married, they had a son, named Obed, who became the father of Jesse and grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17). The prophecy stated that the Messiah must come from the king of David, and the lineage of King David traces back to Ruth.
If we go back to the decision Ruth made in the midst of an unfortunate circumstance, it was that decision of integrity that determined her outcome.
Practical Application: Your conduct in deeds or character affect your future generations.
Leaving a legacy isn’t all about a financial inheritance. It’s about leaving an inheritance of character that reflects Christ.
If God can reward Ruth, He can reward you. If God can use the joys and tragedies of Ruth’s life to fulfill His sovereign plan, then He can do the same for us.
Life for us isn’t that different from Ruth’s life. Some of us are widows, single mothers, barren, an orphan, or an only child, feeling completely broken and destitute. However, we must choose, like Ruth in the Bible, to faithfully honor God in our character, so that our faithfulness will be rewarded with fruitfulness.
Have you been the recipient of unfortunate circumstances? How did you respond with honor and integrity before the Lord?
Timberley and her husband, André, do life together as a husband and wife team who, raise a family, serve as bi-vocational Pastors, and help others find the balance in life through their blog Living Our Priorities. Like many people, they found themselves frustrated trying to find balance with their; faith, family and work. That’s when they discovered the priorities of God. And once they purposed to live by them, it not only changed their marriage, it changed their life! Now they find great joy inspiring others to live within the priorities of God.