When you think of people from the Bible who put on a spirit of humility, few wore it as well as Ruth. I love the story of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth’s words always move me and challenge me—“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth seemed to instinctively know how to have humility in relationships. Even 1000+ years before Paul wrote Philippians 2:3, Ruth seemed to embrace, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
And that is not something that comes easy for us. Don’t believe me? Then you’ve clearly never watched a group of kindergarteners line up for recess. It’s a mad rush of who gets to be first. Most people feel like they have to “Look out for #1!” (And incidentally, if you ever say this phrase in front of me, I will likely bristle—it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.) Depending on our life circumstances, we may feel that we only have ourselves we can trust…. And that attitude doesn’t translate to loving others as we love ourselves…it translates to “push others down and claw your way to the top, no matter who you step on in the process.” There’s not an ounce of love or humility in such an action.
But when we take Jesus’ command to love God with our whole heart first—and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39)—humility finds a beautiful and comfortable fit.
Why does this matter? Because we can’t have successful relationships without humility. Whether it’s with a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, colleague, whomever—to have relationships built on trust and respect, and most of all love, there must be a humble spirit, willing to put others ahead of ourselves.
Just as Ruth did for Naomi. She left her own family behind…her entire way of life…and chose to put Naomi’s needs above her own. She chose to love Naomi as she loved herself. And if you don’t think God notices that sort of selflessness, think again. Ruth’s actions led to a marriage to Boaz, and her great-grandson would be King David, and we know Who is also part of David’s lineage —Jesus. Ruth’s actions put her in the very family tree of Jesus, and what an incredible honor! If you’ve read for a while, you know I don’t subscribe to “prosperity preaching,” but God wants to bless those who are humble! Not necessarily blessings of a financial kind, but, Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Ruth’s life is a testimony to that truth.
And now, let me close with a question—when you look at Ruth’s example of humility in her relationships, how do your own relationships measure up?