With February 14th near, many look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Those are great verses about all love is, but I am reminded of the love story of Ruth. The central characters of Ruth prove love is best expressed in actions rather than words. This is a characteristic of God we frequently see. He does not like to just say He loves us; He shows us His love.
Below are 14 verses about love from the book of Ruth. These verses indirectly show what love is. Though the word love is never used in these scriptures, it is beautifully seen through the acts of others.
I hope these verses inspire you to complete your own acts of love for someone else. They certainly inspire me.
1. Love Is Loyal
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1-16
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, has lost her husband and sons. She decides to go back to her hometown of Bethlehem, and persuades one of her daughters-in-law to stay and not follow her. But, Ruth cannot be persuaded. She clings to Naomi and speaks vows to her, showing her loyalty is to Naomi and God in her decision to stay.
2. Love Is Leadership
Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you!” they answered. –Ruth 2:4
Boaz is the godly man Ruth ends up marrying. We see in this verse how he greets his workers each day. He ask the Lord be with them! Goodness, a boss that encourages you have a relationship with the Lord? Clearly, Boaz shows love through leadership. He loves God. He loves his workers. And we see their feelings are reciprocated through their godly reply.
3. Love Is Generous
So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.” -Ruth 2:8
Ruth is a foreigner to the land and people. Being and feeling accepted might have been a difficult task for her. Boaz offers her this acceptance freely. He tells her to work for him and get to know the other women. He gives her not a only a job and food, but the opportunity to begin to immerse in this new world she has chosen to follow Naomi to. It is a generous act of giving on his part, and reiterates his love shown through leadership.
4. Love Is Protective
As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her.” -Ruth 2:15
As Ruth begins to work, Boaz makes it clear to the men to leave her alone. Earlier, he had also warned them to not touch her (2:9). His protection of her is admirable, and makes my heart flutter a bit. How wonderful his act of protectiveness must have made Ruth feel. It is human nature to protect what we love.
5. Love Is Motherly
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.”- Ruth 3:1
Mothers love to look after their children. We want what is best for them and we see Naomi demonstrate this when she tells Ruth she needs a home and one to provide for her. Essentially, Naomi knows she is getting old. She wants Ruth to marry, have children, and live a fulfilling life. This is a familiar longing many mothers express! God created motherly love. The innate love mothers possess when they first lay eyes on their children is an amazing thing.
6. Love Is Vulnerable
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. -Ruth 3:7
Ruth’s act of going to Boaz when he is asleep and uncovering his feet is a request for marriage. Lying, unknown, at his uncovered feet? Awkward. I cannot imagine how vulnerable she must have felt! Yet, love often is. When we choose to love we also accept the possibility we could be rejected, let down, and hurt. But goodness, being vulnerable can also lead to the biggest blessings!
7. Love Is Commitment
“Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” -Ruth 3:13
Boaz wakes to find Ruth at his feet, and accepts her request! He knows there’s another man in the town that is legally before him in claiming Ruth, but Boaz makes a commitment to her. If this man refuses the claim, Boaz will! When we commit to a relationship, an event, or a calling- we express love.
8. Love Is Honorable
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.” -Ruth 3:14
Honor is important to Ruth and Boaz. Nothing happens in this scene that is inappropriate, but protecting one’s honor is important, especially within the laws of the Lord. Boaz knows this and seeks to protect both his and Ruth’s honor. A woman seen leaving him in the light of the morning would not look good. Thus, Ruth leaves before it is light. When you love another, yourself, and God, you strive to be honorable.
9. Love Is Giving
He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. Ruth 3:15
Boaz gives Ruth a gift of barley. This is a generous gift in its amount and content. When you receive a gift, does it not make you feel special? Loved? Boaz understood the act of giving, and the love giving shows.
10. Love Is Advice
Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”-Ruth 3:18
Boaz shows Ruth love. He has been generous, protective, honorable, giving, and committed. With the prospect of soon becoming his wife, I can only imagine how excited and anxious Ruth is to see if this other man will claim her, or if Boaz will triumph. Naomi likely saw her enthusiasm and gives her advice. Advice meant to calm and reassure. Sound counsel from a godly person is certainly an act of love. Whether we like or agree with the guidance given, only love produces advice from one to another.
11. Love Is Encouraging
Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.”-Ruth 4:11
Boaz has Ruth! He claims her as his own, and the town supports him! They ask the Lord to bless Ruth. They ask for great things to come from their marriage (FYI great things do come from their marriage). When we have believers around us, encouraging and rooting for us, what love that is! To encourage another is love!
12. Love Is Intimate
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. -Ruth 4:13
Boaz and Ruth make love. This love produces a son. The intimacy of love between a husband and wife is undeniable. This intimate love produces more love in the bond between the couple and through the creation of children. God’s design of the intimacy of love and what is produces still baffles me. His creativity and structure of such love is so profound and amazing.
13. Love Is Family
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. -Ruth 4:16
Naomi gains a grandson through Ruth and Boaz. What joy a grandson must give her. She was a woman so bitter from her previous losses. Love seemed to be last on her list at the beginning of this story, but it ends in love through the growing family she is blessed with. Ruth showed that love is family when she stuck with Naomi. And when Naomi holds her new grandson, I can only imagine the love of family she then felt.
14. Love Is Continuing
Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. -Ruth 4:22
The grandson Naomi holds was named Obed. The end of this story tell us the line Ruth and Boaz begin leads to David. Not just any guy name David but King David! And do you know who comes from the line of David?
My goodness, could this love story not be any better!? Not only is loved portrayed through the actions of many, but this story proves love continues. When we love each other, the impact of such love continues for generations.