On this very chilly and wet Melbourne morning, I found myself tucked up in bed, multi-tasking. As I am singing along to Shane & Shane, I read the book of Ruth. Now, having been thoroughly “churched” , I have heard the book of Ruth preached from every possible angle.
I have heard it from Ruth’s point of view…an admirable story, to say the least. What character she displayed, leaving her people and her land to follow her mother-in-law to parts unknown, committing to serve a God foreign to her. Then her reward…becoming part of the greater story of Jesus as she gave birth to Obed.
I have heard sermons preached on Naomi, who calls herself Mara, because she felt the Lord had dealt bitterly with her, only to be redeemed and rewarded with a baby boy to love on once again. Naomi is a pivotal part of Ruth’s story. If it wasn’t for her, Ruth would have follow Orpah back to her own people and someone else would have taken her place in history. Naomi must have been a wonderful mother-in-law, for Ruth freely followed her, therefor the brief glimpse we get of her in the beginning of the tale must be only a fraction of a story that has a much wider scope.
Then there is Boaz, the guardian-redeemer, a constant inspiration for many preachers. He is a type of Christ, pointing to our Guardian-Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the one who comes to Ruth’s rescue, who marries her and who ensures her name is recorded in the annals of time. Boaz becomes her rescuer, her provider and eventually, her husband and the father of Obed, who later comes the grandfather of king David, a man after God’s own heart. Like I said, a wealth of material right there…
But this morning, it’s none of these characters that caught my attention. Tucked away in the midst of famous and dramatic stories, is a couple of verses that really spoke to my heart. There’s a dialogue between Boaz and Ruth that I would like to share with you:
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.
Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.
May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:8 – 12 NIV)
Have you ever stopped to wonder why Boaz was being so kind to Ruth? Because he heard about her good deeds toward Naomi, a woman in pain and distress, feeling lost and abandoned, even by God. I know a little bit about people like that, for not too long ago, I was one like that. They aren’t easy to be around most days, yet Ruth stuck by her and continued to love her and show her kindness and now, as word got out, she is being rewarded.
Malachi 3: 16 – 18 is another passage that transformed my life and it came to mind while I was meditating on the passage in Ruth. It reads like this…
16 Then those whose lives honoured God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honoured God’s name.
17-18 God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honours them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” (Message version)
The point is this: our Father is always watching and listening…not to catch us out and punish us, but to find reason to reward us and to show us favour. He listens to our conversations, takes notes and remembers our good deeds. Therefore, “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up.” (Gal.6:9 CEV)
People might forget the good deeds we do for them, sometimes gratitude
is slow or altogether absent but God sees, He knows and He remembers. He sees the attitude and motivation of our
hearts, even when people misunderstand our intentions…so…keep going, keep giving,
keep serving, keep sowing, keep loving…because in due time you will reap
everything that you have sown. The One
Who promise is faithful!