Week 3 - Growing in Generous Character
Week 3 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.
Read Chapter 3 of the book of Ruth
In chapter one Ruth’s generous love helped heal Naomi’s broken heart. In chapter two Ruth’s gleaning ensured the two widows had enough to eat. More than that, the generosity of Boaz, a close family member, gives hope for a new future.
Naomi has received the generous love of others. Now Naomi acts generously. Because the lovely thing is that Naomi’s purpose and plan is not for herself - but for Ruth. Naomi wishes for Ruth the very things she has lost: a home and happiness (3:1). Back in the day ‘widow’s weeds’ were a sign of mourning. Naomi tells Ruth to put on her best dress and some perfume to show that Ruth is free and willing and eligible to marry.
The way the story tells how Ruth and Boaz meet at the threshing floor anticipates the marriage. ‘Boaz will tell you what to do’, says Naomi. But Boaz doesn’t get the chance! Ruth acts, freely and decisively. She asks Boaz to ‘spread the edge of his cloak’ over her. In today’s terms that’s Ruth getting down on one knee.
Ruth had options. She was free to marry anyone, rich or poor. But remember Ruth’s wonderful promise to Naomi in 1:16. Ruth does not want and will not choose a future that doesn’t include Naomi. On the tear stained road from Moab Ruth’s discipleship choice was to stay with Naomi and Naomi’s God. Now that promise cashes out in sacrificial generosity. The marriage of Boaz will bring them joy and bring healing to Naomi. Through their child, Obed, will come promise and hope for all of Israel.
Ruth’s story challenges us, encourages us to a journey into generous discipleship. Following Jesus will always invite us into generous, sacrificial giving. And if we dig a little deeper, chapter three of Ruth says more about generous discipleship.
When we met Boaz in 2:1 he was introduced as a ‘man of wealth’. Here, in 3:11, Boaz says that everyone knows Ruth to be a ‘woman of virtue’. She is, certainly. But in the Hebrew bible the word for ‘wealth’ and ‘virtue’ are the same. Boaz is generous with his money and as we see in chapter four Boaz also has integrity around money. Money-wise, Ruth doesn’t have two pennies to rub together. But in her generous character and her sacrificial giving Ruth is every bit the equal of Boaz.
Here’s the thing with generous discipleship. Ruth’s generous heart and Boaz generous giving are two sides of the same coin. We don’t get to choose to be generous in heart but not in hand. We don’t get to give our time and talents but not our treasure. Generosity is not only what we give; generosity is who we are.
Lord, where I have little, give me the generous character of Ruth. Where I have enough and to spare, give me the generous character of Ruth. Help me Lord not to settle for giving something, just enough, but to give sacrificially, of hand and heart. Amen
Take a moment to remember when someone sacrificed something for you. Then, look for one thing this week where you can give above and beyond. There's an old saying: go the extra mile. It's never crowded!
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Harvest is a special time in the life of many churches. The fruit and food and flowers in church remind us of the good things God has given to us. We often share a Harvest Supper together to celebrate God’s abundance. We come together in worship to say thank you. And we give, food and money, to extend a loving hand to those in our community and beyond who feel the sharp sting of hunger and loss.Course 4 PartsTotal current bookmarks 1