I really can't say I enjoy housework. I know there are women out there who glory in the scent of pine-sol, but I'd rather read a book. Cleaning bathrooms and mopping floors are particularly loathsome jobs. When I'm finished, the floors may look marginally better, but I look like a wreck and smell like cleaning products. And it is usually just when I'm finished that one of my children spills something sticky. Do you have a chore you despise? I admit that sometimes I feel a bit like Cinderella when working on unpleasant tasks. Lately, however, I've been challenged to try to see my work more like Ruth did. Ruth has always been one of my favorite Bible characters, mainly because I am a sucker for a good love story. And who can tell a better love story than our Father, who is Love (1 John 4:8)? But when I read the book of Ruth and put myself in her place, I don't think she felt very much like the heroine of a romance. In fact, I've been thinking of her as the anti-Cinderella.
When her mother-in-law Naomi moved back to her homeland, the widowed Ruth made the choice to give up the comparatively easy path of remarriage in Moab to follow Naomi and help care for her. One of the only ways she could support them both was to glean in the fields of local landowners. Rather than having a wicked stepmother force her to work, Ruth asked to be able to do this job. Gleaning the fields was hot, dirty work. After walking behind the harvesters, picking up what they left, she probably felt sweaty, tired, and anything but glamorous and attractive.
Enter our hero, Boaz. When Boaz looked at Ruth, he did not see dirt and sweat. He saw a woman who lived her life doing hard work to benefit those whom she loved. He was ultimately attracted to her selflessness. And Boaz was exactly the kind of man a Christian woman should want to attract. His character was irreproachable. He was polite to the workers in his field (Ruth 2:4), and he was kind to a foreign woman.
In Ruth and Boaz's first encounter, he said to her: “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people you did not previously know. May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Ruth 2:12). Unlike Prince Charming, he did not whisk Ruth away from her work. He gave her the blessing of having full wages from the Lord. What a blessing!
Boaz was not the only person who had noticed her hard work and selflessness. In their second encounter, Boaz told Ruth that “all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence” (Ruth 3:11). The phrase “woman of excellence” brings to mind the “excellent wife” that Ruth's great-great grandson Solomon wrote about years later in Proverbs 31. This woman also works very hard at sometimes unpleasant tasks. Rather than feeling ill-used, she “smiles at the future.” I wonder if Solomon was thinking of his ancestor when he wrote this famous Proverb? He even pronounced a similar blessing: “Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.”
The next time you have an onerous task to do (like mopping the floor), and you feel unattractive, don't feel like Cinderella. Try to remember Ruth and recall that it is at these times that you show the beauty of a woman of God most plainly.
About the Author: Melissa is a graduate of Harding University in Searcy Arkansas. After working a brief while as an occupational therapist, she is now a stay at home Mom with three young children. She has a deep love both for Scripture and for Christian women. She shares these loves on www.maidservantsofchrist.com with two other Christian women.