This passage of scripture we read today from Ruth is such a wonderful example of someone showing true and sincere kindness. Kindness that goes so far above what would ever be expected. Kindness that is given from someone that truly loves God.
As we read in the previous verses of this 2nd chapter of Ruth, it was expected that persons in Ruth's position be allowed to gather grain in the fields. It was expected that they be allowed to follow behind the workers and gather what was left behind. However, Boaz goes on to take it one step further. He tells Ruth that she may gather alongside the other female workers. When she is thirsty she is to drink from the water jars that are drawn by the servants. He treats as if she was one of the harvesters instead of a young girl that is poor and very much in need of food. In addition, she is a foreigner. The Moabites were considered second-class citizens in Bethlehem.
Can you imagine Ruth's surprise to hear these words from Boaz? I'm guessing she was a bit stunned by his kindness. She even asks, "Why are you so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?"
Boaz tells her he is being so kind because he knows all that she has done. He knows that Ruth gave up her family, her homeland, and is living among people she doesn't know all so that she can be with Naomi; to love her and to care for her. To be Naomi's family now that her husband and her children have died.
I'm struck by how Ruth doesn't seem to think of what she has done for Noami as being that "above and beyond" type of kindness. But, yet, she has given up so much in order to care for Naomi. And, Boaz, being the kind and godly man that he is completely recognizes the love shown by Ruth for what it is. He is completely acknowledging this by showing her kindness and sharing with her his faith that the Lord is with her, protecting her and loving her.
So many things jump off the page at me as I read this passage....
~ What an example of God's love that Ruth shows in all she has done for Naomi
~ In turn, what kindness Boaz shows towards Ruth because of what she has done for Naomi
~ The faith in God they both show -- and considering Ruth has just recently begun following God (remember, the Moabites served their own god, Chemosh), this really jumps out at me. I was raised in church and accepted Christ as a child, but I STILL have days when I struggle with trusting God to take care of it all. Look at how Ruth has turned to God for protection. As Boaz stated, ".... the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!"
~ Ruth has left all her family to be with Naomi. For some reason, I never really thought of this aspect previously. What a sacrifice Ruth has made! In this day, there was no jumping on a plane or driving in her car to see her family. By moving so far away, it is entirely possible that she will never see her parents or siblings again.
Dear Lord, I thank you so for the story of Ruth. I thank you for the sweet and loyal heart of Ruth and how it shows us the meaning of true and godly kindness. I thank you, too, for Boaz and his part in this story. Through him we learn how important it is to offer kindness to those that have less than we do. He shows us how to recognize Your love and direction in the lives of others and how to encourage them as they walk with You. I pray, dear Lord, that you would show me how to have a heart full of love and kindness for others. That I would recognize more clearly those that are in need and that I would see what I could do to assist them. And, that I would not only see, but that I would act on what I see and offer kindness. I thank you, Lord, for your Word and all it has to offer us if only we will seek. In Christ's name, Amen.