Week 4 Leaving a Generous Legacy
Week 4 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.
Read Chapter 4 of the book of Ruth
The wonderful short story of Ruth, just 84 Bible verses, has a dramatic ending in chapter 4. Briefly, at the City gates, this story about two women pivots to focus on male concerns with lineage and land. Naomi is talked about, but not talked to. Ruth becomes again, for legal reasons, the Moabite and widow of Mahlon. But only briefly!
When the legalities are over the story is not done. It becomes again a story of faithful women. The men sing Ruth’s praises, naming her with Rachel and Leah, the matriarch’s of Israel. The joyful townswomen celebrate with Naomi. Ruth and Boaz depart, leaving Naomi holding baby Obed: her healing and joy; Israel’s hope and promise. Nor is our learning about generous discipleship over.
• Boaz teaches us not only generosity with money but integrity also. Boaz would inherit land by marrying Ruth. But instead of seizing his chance Boaz knew a closer relative had a better claim. This other man, deliberately not named, will not marry Ruth because it would badly affect his financial inheritance. For us as for Boaz, a generous character and a generous practice helps us resist the gravitational pull of money.
• Naomi has received the generous gift of love from Ruth, the generous care of Boaz. Now her healing heart is made whole by Ruth’s greatest gift of sacrificial generosity: sharing her new life and love and child with Naomi. As she holds the baby close the women tell Naomi that Ruth is worth more than seven sons and that the child she holds will ‘return (or restore) life to her’. Generosity is more than giving, it is life-giving and it makes us whole.
And finally there is Ruth herself. Unlike Abraham or Jesus’ disciples Ruth was not called by name. Nor was she given a great task to complete like Moses or Nehemiah. Her legacy was to be radically loving, a generous character that gave generously, sacrificially. But Ruth is also a reminder that generous discipleship always points beyond itself to the generous God who gives us all things in Jesus.
Ruth could have broken under the weight of her own grief, put her interests above Naomi’s, married someone else, walked home with Orpah. But Ruth’s behaviour was Christlike. She gave her life in commitment – for better or worse – to God’s will.
Ruth gives us a glimpse of the true love of Christ (which Paul describes so similarly to us in Romans 8:37-39) which is an unconditional, sacrificial love that is active in our hearts and ripples through our families and communities. The love shown to Naomi by Ruth is more than she could imagine or deserve. The same unprecedented gift of grace is awarded to us as children of God, undeserving recipients of amazing love and forgiveness.
In the same way that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw the promises of God to both provide and redeem them – so did Ruth. Ruth is part of God’s rich purpose. Her legacy: for Israel a King; for the whole world, a Saviour.
Lord, my prayer is simply, thank you. You are the giver of all things. Teach me to trust for my needs; to be generous with what is entrusted to me. Give me a heart of generous discipleship. Give me the grace of generosity. May my journey of generous discipleship today leave a rich legacy of generosity for tomorrow. Amen.
Take a moment to write down three blessings you have received from the generosity of others. What three actions can you take this Harvest to leave a rich legacy of generous discipleship - to others, to your church?
Week 3 - Growing in Generous Character
Week 3 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.ResourceTotal current bookmarks 0
Week 2 - Growing in: Generous Giving
Week 2 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.ResourceTotal current bookmarks 0
Week 1 - Growing in: Generous Relationships
Week 1 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.ResourceTotal current bookmarks 0
Generous Hearts, Generous Hands
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