When you think of a woman you utterly respect, what does she look like? She might be your mother, and she might not. Perhaps your wife, or even a family friend. More often than not that woman has a proven track record of wisdom. Flawless? No. She’s probably poked your eyes with pins a time or two, but likely you respected her in the morning.
Ruth of the Bible was a woman of excellence, and the whole city knew it. She followed her mother-in-law into a foreign country to serve her and be a companion in her old age. It was mainly because Naomi had walked out faith in the God of Abraham. Ruth had abandoned the religious beliefs of her family and adopted the faith of her mother-in-law. This was extreme sacrifice to accept a life of likely widowhood and poverty, when she legally could have returned to her family of origin and lived much more extravagantly.
The plot thickens though. There’s a man, you see. (Hum, there’s always a man when the plot thickens. Just sayin.) His name is Boaz. And so as to shorten this blog entry, she basically asks him to marry her. I know, right? Shiggy-diggy. She goes for it. His response?
Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, … You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. … do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. Ruth 3:10-11
When I think of what it means to be a woman of excellence, I’m a bit dumb-founded because this book of the Bible (or any) was written in a time when women were incredibly oppressed. Okay, understatement there. But the whole city knew she was a woman of excellence. That says to me that she didn’t go around in secret begging for mercy every step of the way.
She had a voice. She made herself heard … in wisdom.
She had compassion. She served sacrificially, and people knew it.
She knew how and when to stand, in her Esther moments, and she didn’t back down.
She knew what it meant to pay the price of obedience, and to walk that out before God. Yup, she put on her big-girl knickers and dealt with stuff.
She had the humility to admit her wrongdoings, and to correct them.
A woman of excellence.
Looking back to the woman of excellence in your own life, we both know she had failures the length of her arm. And yet. Her successes outweighed those failures by far.
A real woman keeps standing up when morning comes. She keeps clothing herself with courage and humility. A real woman sets her face like flint, and is unashamed because she knows her King.