Attracted by Kindness

Jan 23, 2017
Robert A. Allen

When the bible records the love story of Boaz and Ruth, there is a sense of physical attractiveness. The first time Boaz sees Ruth in one of his fields, he asks, “whose damsel is this?” But the focus of the entire story does not remain on the outward characteristics of the two. Instead, we see an attraction that grew because of kindness and the actions that followed. Beauty is only skin deep, warns the ancient proverb, yet most of the attention paid to attractiveness in society focusses just on surface features.
Even though she was a foreigner, a Moabite, Ruth demonstrated a kindness toward her mother-in-law Naomi that was noticed by the people of Bethlehem. Harvest was already underway and Ruth immediately sought permission to help provide for her mother-in-law’s needs, by gleaning in the fields. This was the means the law of Moses established for providing for the poor and the stranger (Leviticus 19). Naomi was poor and Ruth was a stranger so they certainly qualified.
The woman Boaz met in his field was one who cared for her family and treated her mother-in-law with kindness. Boaz was also attracted by Ruth’s industriousness, her willingness to work hard at a task that wasn’t easy. The servant of Boaz had reported to him that Ruth had arrived early in the morning and worked hard all day long. Later, Boaz would instruct his workers to leave her some handfuls on purpose. But it was because of her industry that she returned home that night with a harvest that surprised Naomi because of its abundance.
Another quality that made Ruth attractive to Boaz was her humility. When he invited her to remain in his fields and accept the protection of his workers, she responded in a way that showed her genuine appreciation. She fell on her face and bowed herself to the ground. There is no indication of Ruth intimating that she deserved what Boaz offered her. She accepted his help very humbly. It would have been easy for Ruth to resent the fact that she had to glean in order to provide for Naomi and herself. She could have felt that such a task was beneath her dignity. Instead, she accepted her place in society at that time and honored the position Boaz held without pride.
Another quality Boaz found exceedingly attractive was Ruth’s faith. He had heard of her faith in the Lord even though he had never met her before. In fact, the entire story of how Ruth had chosen to leave her own land and return with Naomi was known to Boaz. But the most important part of the story according to him, was the fact that Ruth knew the God of Israel, under Whose wings she had come to trust. When a young man seeks a wife, these qualities that Boaz saw in Ruth should be primary in consideration. Remember, beauty will pale in comparison to a dedication to a development of a caring spirit, industry, humility, and faith in the Lord.
Ruth also looked past the outward to see in Boaz kindnesses that attracted her to him. Obviously he was a mighty man of wealth. To some women riches are even more important than good looks when it comes to choosing a husband. But Ruth saw even more important characteristics in Boaz. He was a man that obeyed the Lord. His servant knew that he could invite Ruth into the field to glean without first checking with the boss. He knew because he knew Boaz ordered his life in accordance with the Mosaic law. If the law said the poor and strangers could glean, that was what was allowed in the field belonging to Boaz. There were those that did not allow gleaning because it cut into the profit margin. But Boaz was more concerned with obeying the Lord, than in accumulating wealth.
Another attractive quality Boaz possessed was that he was a gentleman. As soon as he knew who Ruth was, and saw her concern for Naomi, he took steps to insure her protection and safety. He invited her to spend the rest of the harvest season in his fields and gave specific commands to his men that they should not touch her. A great deal is said about a man by the way he treats women. A lack of respect toward those of the opposite gender is too often evident in male society. But Boaz had learned the importance of showing kindness in that respect as well.
Ruth was also attracted by the generosity of Boaz. During harvest the noon meal was provided for all the workers in the field. Gleaners were not usually included in that meal, but Boaz invited Ruth to eat with his workers. In addition, he personally saw that she had enough to be sufficed. The portion he passed to her was more than enough to satisfy her hunger. After the meal he told the workers to leave behind some grain on purpose so that it would be available to her. He knew she was taking special care of Naomi and he wanted a part in providing for this relative who had fallen on hard times. His kindness did not go unnoticed by Ruth. Just as Boaz had noted Ruth’s faith, so Ruth saw that the kindness of Boaz was prompted by his spiritual character. He treated his workers in a godly fashion. He commended her for the faith in the Lord that had become known to the entire community. His reputation for spiritual maturity caused Naomi to rejoice and agree that Ruth should not go into any other field to work during harvest.
Boaz was a good man because he was a godly man. Ruth had a firm grasp on the qualities that would make him a strong partner in the marriage that would one day be theirs. Of course we know that Ruth and Boaz did marry and had a son named Obed, and Obed beget Jesse, and Jesse begat King David.

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