“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter in law. “He has not stopped showing His goodness to the living and the dead.”
~Ruth 2:20, NIV
What is the best thing God has ever done for you? Apart from your salvation, when in your life have you been most aware of the goodness of God?
Perhaps it was at the birth of a child, after you were told you could not bear children. Maybe God provided for a desperate need you had in a difficult time. Or possibly, you have seen God’s goodness through His people: loving you when you felt unworthy of His love.
Whatever the circumstance, when God demonstrates His goodness to us, it is usually two things: abundant and unmistakably God!
Boaz: God's Goodness in Action
The story of Ruth gives us a picture of the goodness of God through His servant Boaz.
Ruth and Naomi, her mother-in-law, return to Judah from the land of Moab, where they experienced famine along with the deaths of their husbands and children. They return broken, disillusioned, and poor, with Naomi voicing this complaint:
“The Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty… the Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
Having lost all, the two women seem to have no hope. Although Ruth has agreed to follow Naomi to Bethlehem, leaving her own homeland, Naomi has nothing to offer her. Naomi’s husband and sons are dead and she herself is destitute. The two women are reduced to begging, and Ruth quickly goes to gather what leftovers she can in the nearby fields of barley harvesters.
Ruth finds herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who is a distant relative of Naomi’s dead husband. To Ruth’s great surprise, Boaz treats her kindly, providing water for her to drink, physical protection from the men, and companionship with his servant girls. He graciously allows her to glean in his fields, despite the fact that she is a foreigner.
Boaz’s goodness comforts Ruth (Ruth 2:13). His kindness towards her is unexpected, causing her to bow down in gratefulness. (See Ruth 2:10.) But he doesn’t stop there.
As we watch Ruth’s story unfold, we find that Boaz goes far beyond the letter of the law in caring for this young refugee. Mosaic law required landowners to allow the poor to glean from the edges of a field, and to pick up whatever was left over after the harvesters went through. Boaz has no further obligation to this “alien” than to allow her to follow the others who were gathering scraps in order to survive.
Yet at the noonday meal, Boaz offers Ruth bread and wine, feeding her until she is satisfied. When she gets up to return to work, he commands his laborers not to embarrass her, but to help her fill her basket with sheaves that they intentionally pull up and leave behind for her!
Ruth returns home to Naomi with an abundant quantity of grain that could not have been harvested by one woman alone.
Remember: this is before Boaz agrees to marry her as Naomi’s kinsman, and it is unlikely that he favors her because of any romantic attraction (Boaz addresses her as “daughter” in Ruth 2:8, indicating the difference in age). Boaz demonstrates a degree of kindness towards the poor that goes above and beyond the norm. In this, he paints a picture for us of the goodness of God.
Revealing God's Kindness
As I reread Ruth’s story this week, I was humbled, again, by the extravagant goodness of God. So often we see the poor as deserving of their misfortunes. We quietly accuse them of being “lazy” or “negligent” and in so doing, excuse ourselves from any obligation to help them. After all, doesn’t God describe poverty as a curse in the law? (See Deuteronomy 28:15-24.) If they struggle, isn’t it a sign that God is afflicting them?
Naomi certainly believed so. She felt that the favor of God had departed from her, and her faith was so crushed that she no longer believed the Almighty would be kind to her.
It was the goodness of God through Boaz that restored Naomi’s hope. “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” (Ruth 2:20-21, NIV.)
A Holiday Challenge
I believe God is issuing a challenge this holiday season to those of us who will take it. He is asking: “Will you be the conduit for My abundant, unmistakable goodness?” God is looking for givers like Boaz: people whose kindness far exceeds the letter of the law. He’s looking for those who will give away their coat when they have already lost their shirt. (Matthew 5:40.)
Jesus reminds us that God sends sun and rain to both the righteous and the unrighteous. He encourages us to “do more than the others” by loving our enemies and spending time with those outside our usual comfort zones (Matthew 5:44-48).
It is easy to supply selfishly yet give only sparingly during the holiday season. We long to delight those whom we love. But the heart of God loves so far beyond the lovable! He deeply loves the poor, the destitute, the broken and even the refugees. He feels their pain as if it were His own. And like Boaz, when He loves, He loves extravagantly, so that there is no mistaking that the goodness comes from Him!
Will you take some time today to ask God how you can be a conduit of His kindness? Boaz took the time to intercede for Naomi’s impoverished family, and made provision for them so that their name would be honored instead of disgraced (for the details, see Ruth 4). In the same way, I believe God wants us to honor Him this season by loving someone more deeply and giving more radically, so that one person might know the unmistakable goodness of God in their life.
How can you do this? Start with prayer. Ruth came into Boaz’s circle of influence by God’s divine design. Ask God to open your eyes to the ones He has brought into your sphere of influence this season. Is there a family who has fallen on hard times? Is there a person who has experienced loss or devastation, or who needs hope restored?
Ask the Lord to show you a specific strategy to reach that one, deeply. Make provision not just with a donation or a token gift, but for as much of their situation as you are able. Gather others in support if need be. Do it in such a way that the recipient is honored and blessed, not embarrassed.
Consider this your family's mission, and let the goodness of God be radically released through your kindness. Your actions will do more to demonstrate God’s love than the finest sermon or the most eloquent prayer.
Because of Boaz’s kindness to Ruth, we now have a Savior named Jesus. (See Ruth 4:13-22.) It is this Savior whom we honor and celebrate each time we release God’s goodness in the earth. Just like Boaz, God never stops showing His kindness to the living and the dead.
Watch Pat King's short video (link below) for an expanded understanding of giving and the "Replenishment Anointing!" It's powerful!
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.