By Elizabeth Prata
So now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you say, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. (Ruth 3:11).
An excellent wife, who can find her? For her worth is far above jewels. (Proverbs 31:10)
When I was a kid in school, the best thing you could earn from the teacher was a gold star with the word “excellent!” next to it. I worked toward that all the time. Who doesn’t like some affirmation! I do, I do! I loved it when my teacher deemed my work of top quality and stuck that sought-after star on the top of the paper.
How much more should we seek excellence as Christian women? We would love to have that affirmation from Jesus, our ultimate teacher! He is the ultimate everything. And the excellence there in the verses above doesn’t mean only the work women produce, but the moral character they exhibit.
Strong’s defines the word excellent in the Ruth verse as “ability, efficiency, often involving moral worth.”
‘Moral worth’. Do we seek the moral option regularly? Consistently? Tirelessly? The Christian life is a battle. A battle to slay sin. Sin is an enemy. We never give quarter to an enemy. We never cozy up to an enemy. An enemy is an enemy. Moral worth is developed by slaying sin and choosing the right thing. We are imputed Christ’s righteousness, but we need to develop it in daily life by applying His righteousness to moral choices. When we do, it’s noble. When we don’t, it’s shameful. See this verse:
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but she who causes shame is like decay in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4).
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” (Hosea 1:2-3).
Think of how devastated Hosea was. God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute, who shamed him continually. God was creating a living picture of God and his adulterous Bride (Israel), but Hosea was a real man, really shamed by Gomer. Life with an un-excellent wife was a trial for him.
Gill’s Exposition says of the Ruth 3:11 excellent woman verse,
a good woman, possessed of grace and virtue, having every agreeable qualification to recommend to the marriage state; and therefore, should they come to the knowledge of the step taken to obtain it, will never reproach thee for it, nor blame me for marrying a person, though poor, of such an excellent character, which, by her conduct and behaviour, was universally established.
In other words, as marriage is a picture of the Bride’s (church’s) union with Jesus (the Groom), and since Christians in the church are not to blot the name of Jesus with our behavior, an excellent wife will not want to put a blot onto her husband’s good name. Her good character will be established and well known.
So how do we go about cultivating an excellent character? Remember, the goal is not to become famous for our character itself, but that the character we carefully develop will shine through all circumstances and life’s challenges as a result of careful and conscientious cultivation.
I often tell my students at school that developing good character is doing the right thing for the right reasons whether anyone is watching and especially when no one is watching. Christians know that we always have an audience of One. Jesus is watching. So, what IS a godly character of excellence? The fruit of the Spirit describes them- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).
A woman of excellence, as mentioned, opposes sin. She hates sin in herself, and strives to unearth it, repent of it, and slay it when it rears its ugly head. One can only develop excellence by slaying what is not excellent. And sin is most definitely the opposite of excellent.
Ruth was faithful, humble, committed, and loyal. She clung to Naomi, bitter, sour Naomi, saying,
But Ruth said, “Do not plead with me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17).
A woman of excellence commits to a life of productivity for Christ. Not to say that rest isn’t important, it is. God rested on the 7th day from all that He did. But we keep Jesus in the forefront of our minds. Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17). An excellent woman like Ruth gleaned
An excellent woman isn’t excellent in isolation. She cultivates good relationships with her husband and children, of course. See Ruth’s statement above. But she is also gracious in friendship with others. As D.J. Burrell said of the Proverbs 31 excellent woman, “She is recognised as important in the social structure.” (See, Dorcas/Tabitha, Acts 9:36-43). This is because an excellent woman is kind. As Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries has said of the Proverbs 31 woman,
"SHE IS KIND- “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26). Kindness (kesed), is a rich Hebrew word denoting deeds of devotion, favor, and loveliness. It carries the OT idea of the NT word for love (agapao), meaning unchanging, unconditional graciousness. This woman’s speech is flavored with tenderness and mercy; others enjoy talking to her for endless hours! She’s not rigid and legalistic, nor is her speech chock-full of self-centered comments, harsh nor gossipy; she’s kind and gracious, easy and genuine, as a result, she is a pleasure to be around."
Are you an excellent woman? Are you known for being of good repute? Trustworthy? Kind? A pleasure to be around? A woman who possesses moral worth? If not, then what is hindering you from cultivating what you need in order to become the excellent wife your husband would be proud of? A woman Jesus would say whose worth was above all rubies?