And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Ruth 3, verse 11.
It doesn’t take much to destroy a reputation. Ask me; I know. I’ve built, destroyed, and re-built my reputation several times over. Not everyone knows me well, and those who do sometimes wish they didn’t. I work hard these days to live out my faith, but I don’t always live it well, especially if you get me talking about politics. That hasn’t always been the case because the cliché is true: a good reputation takes a long time to build while it takes only a few minutes to tear it down.
My grandfather (himself a man who had strong good and bad sides) used to say that you should always tell the truth because then you never have to worry about what you told someone. Perhaps he spoke from experience. He worked hard all his life to build a family and a business, yet in some of his weaker moments, he dove head-first into tearing that down. It took him many years to recover from that; in some cases he never did, and he was still one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. Yet he strived to be honest, to be no-nonsense while being just himself. That isn’t easy.
He was a far cry from Ruth. Since her arrival in Judea, she had worked hard to be known as a follower of God. Ruth’s reputation was solid. Her words and actions aligned; she lived out her faith. That isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when you’re dealing with abject poverty as Ruth was. She had stood by Naomi; she had worked hard. Ruth had lived honorably and had done nothing to bring shame on herself, Naomi, or Naomi’s family. Word gets around in a small town, even if it’s a good word. Boaz knew about Ruth, and he understood her to be a woman of good, Godly character. A decision to marry is hardly a ‘no brainer,’ but it’s made much easier when you know your prospective partner to be the kind of person you can admire.
Not so much me. Or my grandfather. Or most people, maybe even you at times. Admit it: we have good points, but we aren’t Ruth. We usually work hard to develop character, and we struggle with the things that could derail it. I can’t picture Ruth struggling with feelings of hatred, or temptations to steal, or to lie, or sleep around or shoot heroin. But she was a sinner too, and she had her own pet temptations that we don’t know about. She found strength to stand in her new-found God. So can we.
Lord, I thank and praise You for giving me another day on Planet Earth to build a reputation for following You.
Read Ruth 3.
What are some kinks in your reputation?
Would people have a hard or easy time believing you are a good follower of Christ?
Who do you need to forgive?