Read Ruth 2:1-23
Does Your Reputation Precede You?
The widowed Ruth chose to return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi, and asked her if she could “glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor” (Ruth 2:2). Two widows living together would have had difficulty making ends meet, but God had instituted this practice in the days of Moses as a means of caring for the poor. “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleanings from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22).
By divine providence, Ruth “happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:3). We learn later in the chapter that Boaz was “a close relation” of Naomi’s (Ruth 2:20). Boaz took a liking to Ruth and encouraged her to glean only in his field. Why was Boaz so kind to this Moabitess?
Boaz told Ruth, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:11-12). In short, Ruth’s reputation had preceded her.
Gossip is often very harmful but you cannot prevent others from speaking about you. Ruth had behaved in such a way, though, that Boaz heard nothing but good things! We should all strive to behave in such a way that when our name falls upon someone’s ears, they cannot help but reflect on the good things they have heard.
Jesus says our behavior should cause others to glorify God (Matthew 5:16), and Paul writes, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).
What do people think when they hear your name? What do they say about you when you’re not around? Are they telling others what a kind and generous person you are, or do they focus upon your negative attitude and complaints?