Monday, August 10, 2009

Ruth Chapter 2

Ruth ch. 2 tells us of Ruth's life back in Judah with Naomi.

As they return, Ruth takes the initiative in helping provide for them. She goes out into the fields to glean and bring home grain. She was obviously not afraid of hard work, and was willing to do what she needed to to help Naomi.

As Ruth is gleaning in the fields, Boaz takes notice of her ~ her reputation precedes her.
"But Boaz answered her, 'All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Isarael, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!'" Ruth 2:11-12

One of the things that struck me as I read through chapter 2 is Boaz and his behavior. Every time I have ever heard the book of Ruth preached on, the speaker talks of Ruth's boldness towards Boaz. But, as I read ch. 2, I see Boaz taking the lead. He has heard of Ruth and how she has cared for Naomi. He pulls her aside and speaks with her, telling her of the good he has heard about her, he invites her to eat with him ~ making sure that she eats her fill and has some extra to take home, he watches over her, taking care to make sure the men in the field leave her alone, and he instructs his men to leave bundles of grain for her to "glean". From the very beginning, Boaz is taking care of her, showing her deference, and basically loving her. Ruth's later boldness comes, I think, from these initial actions by Boaz.

We see that Ruth is very diligent in her work, beginning early in the morning and gleaning until the evening. When she returns home, she not only brings the gleanings, but she brings home the prepared food left from lunch for Naomi as well.

I think, in ch.2, we can get the most instruction from Ruth as a daughter-in-law. It was very convicting to me as I read. I had a strained relationship with my mother-in-law, and she has now been gone for over 13 years, so I cannot try to make things right. What we see is a young woman who is more than willing to care for her mother-in-law, she acts on that willingness. We see that her reputation preceded her in how she cared for Naomi. If you moved to a new place, and the only thing to recommend you to others was your reputation for how you treated your mother-in-law, what would people think of you? Would you be as well thought-of as Ruth? Or would people have a poor opinion of you?

I do believe that Naomi was probably an exceptional woman and that the two women had a good relationship. But, I don't think things were probably always rosy. They were very poor, both being widows, and we know from Naomi's own words that she was bitter. Bitter people can be extremely hard to get along with. Yet, Ruth is known for her love and care of Naomi. So, a difficult mother-in-law is no excuse. Our behavior is not dependent on other's actions.

Do you have a 'care-taker' mentality toward your mother-in-law? Perhaps she is a very capable woman, or you live far from her, but you can still love and care for her (and distance might actually make that easier!). If needed, would you willingly take her into your home and provide for her?

Years ago, we took my Beloved's father into our home. He was very, very ill and needed surgery, but he was too weak to withstand the surgery. So, he came to our house to be strengthened. We had had a very difficult relationship. To bring him into our home was not something that I relished, but felt like we needed to do. He was only with us for a month or two, but it was a major turning point in our relationship. I am so thankful that we brought him home and cared for him. It gave our children an opportunity to know their grandpa better (we lived several hours away from them and did not see them often), and it gave me an opportunity to put love to action toward my father-in-law. Some of the things that we do for my Beloved's step-mom are to call her on a fairly regular basis and see how she is doing. When we are in the area, we always stop and visit. We do what we can (long distance) to show her love and respect. If she needed it, we would take her into our home in a moment. This is an attitude change that has only been brought about by the working of the Holy Spirit (for both my Beloved and I).

You may have a long list of hurts inflicted by your in-laws, but I encourage you to take them to the Lord and leave them at His feet. Ask Him to give you a super-natural love for your in-laws. Perhaps the relationship is such that you really can't spend time around them, but that doesn't mean you can't get creative and still honor and love them. Maybe you have a great relationship ~ if so, praise God! Are there still ways you can love them better?

What were some of your thoughts as you read through chapter 2? Please share! This week, we'll read chapter 3.

1 comment:

Beth Cook said...

Boaz- the picture of our perfect kinsman/redeemer, Jesus Christ. He demonstrates great compassion and care. He does these things not just out of obligation and duty, but out of love(the action, not the wishy-washy emotion) and compassion. He is sure to provide for Ruth and Naomi's needs as well as Ruth's protection. He cares!
God's providence is demonstrated in sending Ruth to Boaz's field. I also like that Boaz's servants do what is right and from the law in allowing her to glean. I believe that as a godly man, Boaz conducts his affairs in a godly manner. Even to the hiring of godly servants.