So I'm working my way through a chronological Bible and I read the book of Ruth this morning. I would guess that it was probably the fourth or fifth time that I have read it. Its funny how when you read the Bible, different things stand out to you each time. Here is what struck me this time through:
This story is filled with people who have both compassion and personal integrity. I don't think that there are two more important qualities for a person to have. Both require us to stop and think about life from the perspective of others in our decision making process. First we find Naomi(who had recently lost her husband and sons) displaying incredible compassion and integrity by telling Ruth to stay in her homeland (where she could probably make a decent life for herself) when she plans to return to Israel. Ruth responds with equal compassion and integrity by choosing to go with her mother-in-law and give up the little chance for life stability she had left. Finally, we meet Boaz. Not only does he display great compassion in allowing Ruth to gather food in his fields, the integrity in which he handles his relationship with her is pretty amazing. Along with displays of compassion and integrity, we also see these people taking incredibly dangerous steps of faith in the name of these convictions. Its a great little story and definitely worth the read every once in a while.
Of all the people that I have watched, learned from, and been affected by throughout my life, the ones who have effected my life and shaped my faith the most have had these traits in common. Everything that they do and say is a result of strong convictions in personal integrity and compassion for those in need. You really can't have one without the other. Compassion without integrity won't last, and integrity without compassion is basically self-righteousness. The one person that I have the most respect for on these two fronts is my father.
I have watched him make many difficult decisions throughout his life and seen him place himself in very uncomfortable situations in the name of integrity and compassion. I am very thankful for the example that he has set for me. Compassion and integrity.... such a simple conception, but I don't think it gets any more important than that.