My husband is a computer whiz. Naturally, family and friends consult him about their computer problems. One day, he was helping a friend (whom we’ll call Jake for now) with some computer issues when he noticed a few things that caused him to suspect Jake might be struggling with some internet-related temptations.
My husband told me and we talked and prayed about it. We eventually decided that, in obedience to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15, he should talk to Jake. It was not an easy decision and neither of us looked forward to an uncomfortable conversation with Jake. After further prayer, my husband pulled Jake aside one day and gently asked him about it. They had a good conversation, during which Jake was very open and honest about some of the things he was struggling with. The two of them agreed to meet with a pastor and adopt accountability and practical measures.
Although we did not fight any giants, save any lives, or brave any mythological perils, it is not an overstatement to say that the decision to talk to Jake was heroic. We sought God’s will and made the best decision we could in accord with the wisdom of the Bible.
Heroic actions are not necessarily exciting or impressive. In the Bible, the story of Ruth gets its own book, even though it initially seems rather unremarkable. Ruth is a Moabite widow who followed her mother-in-law Naomi back to the land of Israel. With no man to support the family, Ruth had to gather excess grain from the fields of a wealthy relative of Naomi’s. At one point, Naomi told Ruth to pursue this wealthy relative. She did so, and he married her. The story is hardly as exciting as the story of Esther, Moses, or David. Yet Ruth not only gets her own book in the Bible, she even gets a mention in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17). This suggests something extraordinary.
I believe that God blessed Ruth with such a legacy because she made bold decisions and pursued His will. Firstly, she insisted on returning with her mother-in-law to Israel even though Naomi had tried to persuade her otherwise. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” she told Naomi in no uncertain terms (Ruth 1:16). She knew the right thing to do and she knew who the true God was. Hence, she willingly gave up the comfort of her own homeland and family to pursue that.
Secondly, Ruth was not timid or superficial in pursuing Boaz. Naomi suggested it, and Ruth acted on it without an argument. This was a careful decision on their parts. They needed the support of a man in the family, and I believe that they had considered Boaz’s character before Ruth made the proposal. Boaz was kind to his workers (Ruth 2:4) and was kind to Ruth (Ruth 2:14-15). His actions after Ruth’s proposal only proved their confidence in him. The decision to marry was perhaps practical, but it was also wise and bold, and God was pleased with their courage.
It is interesting to note that God is not mentioned in the book of Ruth, except in 1:6 and 4:13. Ruth did not have direct divine guidance in any of her decisions. But she knew God, and she boldly made everyday decisions in pursuit of God’s will, and God blessed her for it. That’s what makes her a hero.