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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Handfuls of Purpose (Ruth 2.16)
Date Posted: April 13, 2021

Ruth’s reputation was admirable. Though she was a Moabitess, her kindness shown toward her mother-in-law was well known among the people of Israel. She could have opted to allow Naomi to return to her native land and no one would have thought the worse of her. Even Naomi’s thoughts on the matter were for her young daughters-in-law to remain in their homeland and remarry. But, Ruth was of a different mind. It was this attitude that led her to say to Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1.16-17).

Ruth's optimistic outlook on life proved to be the salvation of Naomi and Ruth on several counts. Their move into the land of Israel certainly could have been worse, but it is doubtful it could have been more austere. They had nothing! They had no job and no promise of a job. They apparently had nothing but the clothes on their backs. Another thing that Ruth did not have was an inordinate amount of pride. Her humble spirit allowed her to approach a field during the harvest season and ask permission to glean behind the reapers. Actually, the law of the Jews required them to leave grain behind for the indigent, whether a Jew or a stranger. However, Ruth's personality and gentle spirit moved her to seek and obtain permission from the chief worker.

Enter Boaz, the rich landowner and kinsman of Naomi's deceased husband. He inquired about Ruth and was informed of her earlier request to glean amongst the harvesters. Boaz extended the cloak of kindness even more than his foreman had. Boaz asked Ruth to eat with him, and to drink from the worker's water supply as if it were her own. Additionally he instructed the lead person in the field to make sure that Ruth had more than an ample supply of grain to gather. When he charged the man to insure that the reapers left enough grain behind for Ruth, he used the expression that is the title of today's message. Specifically, he said, “And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” (Ruth 2.15 KJV).

The rest of the story will keep for a while, at least for the purposes of this devotional. It is here that I wish to make my point, a point connected with the kindness of Boaz and his instructions regarding the handfuls of purpose. After a hard day's work (and it would have been hard) do you suppose that Ruth went away boasting about how diligently she had worked, seeking to be recognized for the inordinate amount of grain she had gathered? Do you think that she failed to give honor to the man in whose field she had been so welcomed? Do you suppose that she felt entitled to the privileges extended to her and complained that she was not granted more than she was? Well, the rest of the story doesn't bear out any of these attitudes, nor would knowing Ruth's disposition lend itself to any of these conclusions. In fact, just the opposite would be the case. She knew that she was a stranger who owned nothing and yet was being treated as if she owned everything in the field.

Now, I put myself in Ruth's place, except I am not in Boaz's field, I am in God's universe. I am the stranger who has been granted almost unlimited rights to the things that rightfully belong to Him, except it goes even farther with me – He granted me life, and health, and liberty, and every other blessing I can name! Yet, listen to me! At times I grumble because I don't have enough and then turn around and boast because I have more than others! I need the spirit of Ruth! How God would be exalted if we all had it!

Questions:

1. What demands did Ruth make of the keeper of the field? Think carefully?

2. Even if she had the right to make demands, do you think she would have? Why or why not?

3. In our application, how is God likened to Boaz?

4. In our application, how are we likened to Ruth? Do we have her disposition? What would it mean to society if all people had the spirit of Ruth?

"'Winging It" from Stan Smith

Finding Christmas

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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