Who are you?
When I was in Ethiopia a few years ago, one of the boys in our ministry asked this very question. I responded with, “I am Erika.” He looked at his friends, giggling, and responded with, “I Ethiopia.” To him, “I am Erika,” sounded like, “I America.” We laughed and laughed!
In chapter 3, upon waking up from sleep and finding Ruth at his feet, Boaz asks Ruth the same common question.
Who are you?
Ruth’s response, though, isn’t simply, “I am Ruth.”
She says, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
It calls to mind the way Paul introduces himself in his letters in the New Testament. In Romans, for example, Paul begins with, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…”
In Ruth’s response to Boaz – and Paul’s understanding of His identity in Christ – there is an undeniable focus on the Redeemer.
It’s as though they cannot say their own names without also worshipping the one who is saving them. After all, Ruth could have said, “I am Ruth, a Moabite, a former pagan,” focusing on her past identity. Or she could have said, “I am Ruth, loyal, steadfast, faithful to the end,” focusing on her own attributes. Paul could have done the same.
But instead, both focus on who they are in light of who their savior is.
Boaz’ immediate response to Ruth’s answer is, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. Later he also says, “Do not fear. I will do for you all you ask…”
When you hear the question, “Who are you?” what is your heart response? Are you tempted to look backward and define yourself by your sin? Or are you tempted to lean on your own attributes and gifts? Or do you immediately think, “I am ______, a servant of Christ Jesus?”
In Matthew 16, Jesus flips this question on its head and asks his disciples, “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, Son of the Living God.”
Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is reminiscent of Boaz’ response to Ruth, albeit even more extravagant: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven...”
We cannot answer the question, “Who are you?” without first answering Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?”
Once we answer this question, our identity is forever transformed, and when we forget who we are…when it becomes muddled…instead of looking in the mirror, we gaze upon our Redeemer, who promises to remind us who our God in heaven is through His Word and His Spirit. Only in this, do we learn who we are: servants, blessed, secure, beloved, set apart for good works He has prepared for us, and forever His.