Summary: Humble yourself before the Lord and find recognition, resources, and best of all, a close, personal relationship with your Redeemer.
Christian Herter was running hard for reelection as governor of Massachusetts, and one day he arrived late at a barbecue. He’d had no breakfast or lunch, and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken.
The governor said to the serving lady, “Excuse me, do you mind if I get another piece of chicken. I’m very hungry.”
The woman replied, “Sorry, I’m supposed to give one piece to each person.”
He repeated, “But I’m starved,” and again she said, “Only one to a customer.”
Herter was normally an easy-going man, but he decided this was the time to use the weight of his office and said, “Madam, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state.”
She answered, “Do you know who I am? I’m the lady in charge of chicken. Move along, Mister.” (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p.297)
That lady knew her position, and she was not about to be intimidated by anyone.
So it is when you know your position in Christ. When you know what your standing is as a believer in Jesus Christ, then there is no one who can intimidate you. There is no one you cannot stand up to. There is no one you have to be afraid of.
The problem is: many believers don’t know their position. They don’t know where they stand with Christ. They don’t know how much God honors those who humble themselves before Him.
But there is a story in the Old Testament that wonderfully illustrates your position in Christ. It is the story of how God took a nobody, a poor, foreign widow, and elevated her to a high position in Israel. It is the story of Ruth, and if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ruth 4, Ruth 4, where we pick up the story right after Boaz has promised to marry Ruth.
Ruth 4:1 Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. (ESV)
Boaz went to the gate, the place where all business and legal transactions took place. There, he met the man, who had first rites to redeem Naomi’s property and marry Ruth. Boaz wants to do it, but he has to negotiate with the man who has first rites.
So when he shows up, Boaz calls out, “Hey you! Yes you. You come here” That’s really the sense of it in the Hebrew. Boaz doesn’t even address him by name. The word for “friend” is an impersonal greeting – more like “hey you” than “friend.”
Ruth 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. (ESV)
Boaz wants the town leaders to witness the transaction about to take place.
Ruth 4:3-4 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” (ESV)
Naomi is Ruth’s mother-in-law. Ruth had come to Israel with her after they both lost their husbands in Moab. They are both poor, destitute widows, and now Naomi is forced to sell her land in order to provide for herself and Ruth. The law allowed for a close relative, a kinsman-redeemer, to buy the land back, or redeem it, so it could stay in the family. Boaz gives this man the opportunity to redeem Naomi’s land. Except, there is one catch.
Ruth 4:5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” (ESV)
Ruth comes with the deal. You see, it was not only the kinsman-redeemer’s responsibility to redeem the land, he also had to marry the widow, so she could raise children in her deceased husband’s name. Her children would then get the land, not his.
Ruth 4:6 Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” (ESV)
He didn’t want to do it, because it might jeopardize his wealth and standing in the community. There was a certain stigma that went with marrying foreigners, and he didn’t want any half-breed children getting any of his land.