“And Boaz answered and said to her: It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for you mother-in-law……” Ruth 2:11
“You are the light of the earth…….Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good work’s and glorify Your Father in Heaven” Matthew 14,16
Ruth, she saw a need. There was a foreigner in her country, Naomi. Naomi appears to be a woman with a generous heart who was kind and giving. Naomi became her mother-in-law. They lived in Ruth’s land, Moab for over ten years. Yet unfortunate things happen. First, Naomi’s husband dies but because her sons have Moabite wives and there had been a famine in Bethlehem, she decides to stay in Moab. Then her two son’s, one who was Ruth’s husband, also die. So now Naomi decides to return back to Bethlehem, to the land of her own people. Although she tries to discourage Ruth from journeying with her, Ruth sees that Naomi will be in great need of support and so will not turn away and abandon her.
Now understand this, Ruth was no gold digger. Ruth has no delusions that Naomi is somehow a rich woman who will provide Ruth with a life of ease and luxury. While unfortunately we don’t have a computer map search feature to tell us their direct route and distance, scholars believe it was somewhere more than 40 and less than 80 miles but it was very arid land which can also be very hilly and steep in places. Their journey was more than likely on foot. And they returned to no palace in Bethlehem. Naomi, being elderly, was not able to provide for she and Ruth. So it was up to Ruth. There were fields nearby where she could go after the workers had gone through and harvested the grain. After the workers had gone, Ruth could go into the fields to see if any scraps of grain had been left with which to make bread. She would not have been allowed to drink from the wells of the property. Such was her life.
Yet her presence did not go unnoticed. There must have been some who had asked who she was and why she was trespassing. Naomi may have spoken well of Ruth as she discussed her plight with other widows and relatives. Ruth’s actions shined a positive light on her and her mother-in-law. How do we know this? Boaz, the wealthy owner of one of the fields see’s Ruth. He asks about her and upon hearing her name, requests to speak with her. The first thing he tells her is to go to no other field but his field. Boaz also explains that he has told the men of the fields that they are not to harm her in anyway. Ruth is surprised by his generosity and asks why he is being so kind? It is then that Boaz explains, it is not so much an act of kindness as it is an act of response to kindness and generosity that Ruth has shown to her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s acts had shown forth a light that returned a wonderful blessing to her. And the blessing does not stop there, unbeknownst to Ruth, Boaz gives orders for extra grain to be left so that Ruth can find plenty and that Ruth is to be able to drink from Boaz’s wells when she is thirsty.
Centuries later, Jesus, Himself, will give praise to those who light shines brightly; a Roman Soldier who has unfailing faith in Jesus (his servent is healed), a woman who gives a monetarily small gift to the temple (Jesus praise for giving all that she had), a woman who uses her hair to wash Jesus’ feet (Jesus immortalized her and her act for all time). Yet Jesus also has a warning about the use of light.
When people would give large amounts of money to the temple and want to shine a light on themselves to give themselves glory, Jesus rebuked them and said there is no blessing from above. When the learned would make loud, long winded prayers filled with pious words hoping to shine a light on themselves to glorify their faithfulness; Jesus warned that no reward would be coming from above.
We all must see that it is the intent that matters. Ruth did not approach Boaz boasting on what a loyal relative and terrific servent she was to her mother-in-law; implying or worse yet demanding that she was owed something in return. The lady at the temple did not cry out Hear Ye, Hear Ye, I’m about to give all that I have. No, the example we must follow comes from He who said that He seeks not his own glory but the Glory of Him who sent Him. The blessings start when we can be thankful that God has placed us in the position to see a need and given us the humble spirit which allows us to reach out to meet that need. That our acts are not so much based on requirements that we are forced to fulfill (and should be compensated for), but are heartfelt callings that we feel are a natural response to the love that we’ve experienced. That is when we will find ourselves truly open to and will see and experience the abundant blessings which God our Heavenly Father desires to rain down on us.
So let not our light come from a reflection of earthly sources, a light reflecting off earthly gold, or a reflection of the spotlight of personal glory and self promotion. That light will fade far too soon. No, may it be that our light that shines be a reflection of His Love for us. A light that shines from before the act of creation, through the hill of Calvary down to us this very day. It is in the Light that brings Glory to His Name that we will find manifold blessings.
Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we declare that Your Light is the Light in which we want to live. May it be that Your Light will illuminate our paths and be the power through which we live our lives. Give us we pray, the humility to want to shine Your Light, without trying to claim it for our own. That Your Light shown through us may be bring peace, joy and rest to a world whose light is so terribly dim. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen