Summary: If we are going to see our lot in life improve, we must open our minds to consider what God would have us do.
As we mentioned last time, the book of Ruth is a love story. Not just in the sense of telling about the relationship between Ruth and Boaz, but a love story from the standpoint of God’s love for His children.
Chapter one tells how life had become bitter for Naomi. She had lost her home in Bethlehem, her husband, and her two sons. But God was working in her life. He provided her daughter-in-law, Ruth, who chose to remain with Naomi and befriend her. He also was providentially at work in Naomi’s life, as verse 22 of chapter one indicates. Now, as we look to chapter two, we find that it further illustrates how God was providentially at work in Ruth and Naomi’s lives.
In seeing what lessons we can draw from this book on who we might pass from bitterness to blessedness, we said from chapter one that we need to open our eyes to see the personal concern of others and the providential care of God. Now, from chapter two, we learn yet another lesson about passing from bitterness to blessedness. If we are to do so, we must open our mind.
Too often, when life becomes bitter, our tendency is to close our minds to what can be done to better our situation. Instead, we need to open our minds to the possibilities that do exist to improve our lot in life. That’s the lesson we derive from chapter two. Simply stated, “We need to do what God reveals is right and trust Him to do the rest.”
1. We need to do what God reveals is right.
That’s what Ruth did; and from her example, we not only learn the importance of doing what we know is right, but how we can know what is the right thing to do.
A. We need to do what is morally right - v. 2
Notice how Ruth took the initiative to seek to provide for her elderly mother-in-law. Ruth knew that if anyone was strong enough to work, it was her. Ruth accepted the moral responsibility that was hers, to provide for herself and her mother-in-law without hesitation.
B. We need to do what is ethically right - vs. 6-7
Morals speak of what needs to be done; ethics speak of how it is to be done.
Ruth knew providing for herself and her mother-in-law was the right things to do, but how was she supposed to do it? The law provided that at harvest time, what was dropped by the harvesters was to be available to widows, orphans, and foreigners. As a widow and a foreigner, Ruth was qualified to take advantage of this provision of the law.
But notice how, though the law provided her with the right to gather the leftovers in the field, she didn’t “demand” her rights, but humbly requested permission to exercise her rights in the field that was being harvested. And we are also impressed also by Ruth’s strong work ethic. Nothing was beneath her. She did what was available to do to accomplish what she knew she had to do - provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Ruth did the right thing in the right way.
C. We need to do what is biblically right.
The basis of Ruth’s understanding of Israel’s provision for widows, orphans and foreigners came from God’s Word. Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; and Deuteronomy 24:19-22 said that when harvesting crops in the field or fruit from trees or vineyards, they were not to harvest grain along the edges of the field and they were not to completely strip the trees or vines of their fruit, but they were to leave the leftovers for the poor, the orphans and the foreigners among them to glean. Ruth, raised in Moab, would not have grown up with an awareness of these
provisions. One can only conclude that she had become aware of these provisions of the law through her exposure to God’s Word.
Many times, we react when bitter circumstances come our way, and do whatever comes into our mind, without first determining whether or not it truly is the right thing to do. We react willfully, instead of acting wisely, and often make our situation worse. This is why . . .
1) We must ask God to reveal to us the right thing to do.
We need to look to the Lord for guidance in knowing what is the right thing to do to better our circumstances. We gather that this is what Ruth did, by virtue of the fact that she consulted God’s Word. We can assume, therefore, that she also prayed and sought guidance from the Lord in determining the right thing to do. We must do the same.
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” - Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)