Sept. 6, 2009
“And when she (Ruth) got up to glean, Boaz ordered his young men, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.’”
Ruth 2: 15
A Time of Generosity
“A generous action is its own reward.”
What does it mean to me to be a “generous” person?
How has God’s generosity affected my life?
“Give to ALL, lest the one you pass over should be Christ Himself.”
“There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, ‘I have to’; duty giving says, ‘I ought to’; thanksgiving says, ‘I want to.’”
Through the years, I’ve been blessed to work for a number of Food Banks across America, helping them raise money for the procurement and distribution of food in the communities they serve. In several cases, much of the produce that was secured and then shared, came from groups of “gleaners” who volunteered to go into local fields and pick what was left after the harvesting machines had done their job.
I have repeatedly found myself amazed at the amount of edible food that is gathered, which would have been left to rot in local fields, had the gleaners not been so thorough in picking up everything possible.
However, I must say, I never saw or heard of an act like Boaz performed. It would be tantamount to the owner of the land going to the operators of the harvesting machines and telling them to leave work undone so the gleaners would not just get the left-overs, but would get what was intended for the original harvest.
Our text for today continues in the same direction as the past two days as we see reflected in the life of Boaz, through his treatment of Ruth, the qualities present in our heavenly Father and the way He treats you and me. Our Father welcomes us at “Harvest-Time” with His compassion and protection. Today, we find He also showers upon us the gift of His generosity – an unlimited gift that is extended to ALL. As Jesus described His Father in Matthew 5: 45 (K.J.V.), “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
Our Father’s generous heart isn’t open only to those who like Him, but to all His children, whether the blessings they receive are recognized or even appreciated.
Ruth 2: 15 says, Boaz went to his workers and instructed them to let Ruth glean among the sheaves and “reproach her not.” I wanted to get a better picture of what the words in this text are saying so I went to the Hebrew and what I found was not only interesting but enlightening. For those of us who have seen harvested wheat or barley, the “sheaves” are left in the field, bundled and standing upright, tied together, often in laid-out rows. Gleaning “among” the sheaves was Boaz allowing Ruth to come onto his land and into his field, to walk “among” or in-between the sheaves. While most gleaning was done around the edges, Ruth was invited “inside” and “onto” the Master’s property. This invitation was extended to a Moabite woman who came from the people God had at one time forbidden to even enter the camp of Israel. What generosity. And what a vision of the way our Father treats us!
However, there’s more! Boaz told his workers not to “reproach” Ruth. I thought “reproach” meant to get on her case. But in this particular text, the Hebrew word “reproach” is used in this way only once in the entire Old Testament and it is here in Ruth 2: 15 and the word means, “To wound or insult or to make ashamed. To make someone blush or be embarrassed.” What Boaz didn’t want to happen was for Ruth to feel embarrassed that she needed his help. Boaz didn’t want to wound Ruth with his generous assistance by having her, in any way, feel less than because of her financial situation, her land of birth, or her marital status.
Boaz helped Ruth because he was kind and generous, not to make her feel needy and dependent. I think this is a stunningly beautiful thought, for our Father in heaven treats you and me with the same undeserved generosity. He could make a big deal about all the blessings He gives us. He could ask us to bow before Him day and night and it wouldn’t be an outlandish request at all for His gifts to us are so great, and at the same time, they are often unnoticed as we scurry from one thing to another, unaware that our Father has been leaving “extras” from His hand of mercy for us to partake from. As Lucan wrote so many years ago, “How blind (we) are to Heaven’s gifts!”
Just as Boaz invited the “outsider” to come inside and partake from “among” the bounty on his field, so our Heavenly Father, in the words of John Chrysostom: “Waits for the chances we give Him to show His great generosity.” Let’s not keep Him waiting one minute! May we open our hands and hearts to others just as Boaz opened his, for this is all our Father needs to fill us to overflowing so we, too, may pour bounty into the lives of those who walk “among” us.
I love the words written by Susan Sayers in To Worship In Silence. May this prayer be ours today as we extend the Father’s hand of generosity to ALL:
Let the Story Be Told
“If we only seek peace
when it’s to our advantage,
if we fail to release
the down-trodden and poor,
then let the generous caring,
boundless sharing of the God
who walked this earth
nourish our roots until we fruit
in the joy of the Lord.
The story of love he came to tell us,
bound in the making of the world.
We are the pages still unwritten:
let the story be told.
If we try to avoid
or if love is destroyed
by our failure to serve
then let the wide, unflinching,
of the God who walked this earth
nourish our roots until we fruit
in the joy of the Lord.”
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who though You were rich became poor, grant that all our desire for and covetousness of earthly possessions may die in us, and that the desire of heavenly things may live and grow in us. Keep us from all idle and vain expenses that we may always have enough to give to him who is in need, and that we may not give grudgingly out of necessity, but cheerfully. Through Your merits may we partake of the riches of Your heavenly treasure.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit:www.direct2church.com or email [email protected].
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