Gracious Goodness

:Gleanings from the Book of Ruth:

When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this. -Deuteronomy 24:19-22

I am working through a study of Ruth with the ladies in my care group, and we are using Kelly Minter’s Ruth: Loss, Love & Legacy.  I previously worked through this same study in the summer of 2012 with my dear friend Kristin and along with Beth Moore’s “Siestas.” I am really enjoying a second reading and finding new insights and ways to apply scripture to what is going on on my life right now.  Needless to say, the landscape has changed a bit since 2012!

As I am going through the study, I am finding all of these neat little nuggets that are really sticking with me and changing the way I see things. I love it when God opens my eyes to new ways to apply his Word, and I want to share some of those with you. And so in the same way that Ruth gleaned in the fields and shared her small harvest with Naomi, I want to pick up the gifts that God is leaving for me through the study of this book and in turn share them with you.

Recently, a bit that stood out came from chapter two of Ruth. And for some background, the verse from Deuteronomy lays out God’s law for leaving behind food for the less fortunate of society during a harvest. At this point in the story, Ruth has gone out to glean in the fields owned by Boaz, a relative of her father-in-law.

Kelly says this:

Although [the law] should have been well followed, Ruth stated that she hoped to find someone in whose eyes she could find favor. This may mean she was unfamiliar with Jewish law, or it may simply mean that because God’s people don’t always hold to His commands she was hoping for someone who wold actually honor God’s law of allowing a foreigner to glean. It’s very possible that there were selfish and hostile landowners who wouldn’t have wanted a widowed, Moabite woman on their land. Either way, Ruth was looking for someone gracious.

That line, Ruth was looking for someone gracious, really struck me. So often, that’s what people are looking for- someone gracious.

And reading on, we see that Boaz asked one of his employees about Ruth, and then he himself spoke to Ruth and instructed her to stay in his field and follow along with his female workers. He also told his workers to leave more of the good grain among the sheaves for Ruth to gather.

Boaz was a landowner, a wealthy man, and a man of good standing in the community. And we meet him smack-dab in the middle of the harvesting season. If Boaz had been an accountant, this story would have taken place in early April. This was his busy season, and he was a busy guy. So it really struck me that he even noticed Ruth (surely there were other women who came in and out of the fields to glean), much more that he took the time to ask about her and then to speak to her himself. 

What a gift that must have been to Ruth! To be noticed and then cared for. Boaz could have sent Ruth instructions on how and were to glean via one of his workers, but he didn’t. He took a few minutes out of his busy day to show kindness to Ruth. A few moments for some gracious goodness that made all the difference. 

I imagine it really wasn’t a huge sacrifice on his part, but it meant the world to her.

Not long ago a friend called me to ask me to do a favor for her. I’ll be honest here and say that I don’t always answer my phone… sometimes it’s because I’m busy and sometimes it’s just because I don’t feel like talking. But on this day I answered and listened as she asked her favor and then apologized for bothering me (don’t we always do that?). As it so happened, I was very close to where she needed me to be in order to help, and the actual favor took all of about two minutes. 

This little favor was such a small thing for me to do, one of those things anyone of you would have done, and it cost me no time or even real effort. But it made such a huge difference in her day, and with the project she was tackling. 

I was so convicted afterwards by the fact that I so often get caught up in my own busyness that I miss opportunities like that, opportunities to bless someone through small acts of service. I miss out on the chance to share some gracious goodness because I can be so selfish and inward-focused at times. 

And aren’t there days where just a little gracious goodness could go a long way in helping us get through?

Lord, open my eyes to see more opportunities to share your love by being gracious with my time, and open my hands to be freer so that I am living by your Spirit rather than my schedule. 

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