(This week was Mothers Day weekend and my wife shared a wonderful message on the life of Ruth and Naomi as well a number of other women in the bible. It reminded me of some things I shared about Ruth last year. Ruth was what she was because of Naomi’s influence in her life. She then became a mother who found a place in the Lineage of both David and Jesus. I thought I would revisit some things the Lord showed me about her this week.)
Ruth 2:1-3(NKJV) 1There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
This week we are looking at the characteristics in Ruth’s life that caused God to release the favor that opened up such great blessing in her life. Favor comes from God, but we can cultivate a lifestyle that will put us in position to receive favor. Yesterday we saw that Ruth put Naomi’s wellbeing above her own and that she chose the Lord over her own gods and the People of God over her own. If we will cultivate caring for others and place the will of God central in our lives, we will see the blessing of God. Favor will also help us fulfill our destiny in God.
Today I want to look at some other things that Ruth had in her life that contributed to favor coming to her. In the above verse, we see that Ruth did not simply sit and wait for something to happen. She did not expect someone to take care of her or give to her. She got up and went to work. There were many things she could not do, but she found something she could do and got busy.
I believe God brings favor to those who work. We live in what many are calling an entitlement society. I certainly believe that we should help the poor. The bible actually makes the care of the poor the responsibility of the church not the government. I do not believe that anyone should simply expect others to be responsible for them.
The process Ruth takes advantage of is very interesting. In the law, it stated that landowners could go through their fields once and get all the grain they could. However, whatever was left after that could not be harvested. It was left for the poor. It was not harvested and delivered to the poor. If those who did not have anything wanted grain to sell or eat, it was left for them but they had to get it themselves. I believe this system is much healthier for the poor person. They have the self respect born of providing for themselves.
Ruth took advantage of this practice when she went to Boaz’s field to harvest. It was because she got up and went to work that God was able to bring her to Boaz’s attention. If she had simply said, “We are just poor women. I hope someone comes to help us.” they would have stayed poor and maybe died. They did not sit there and lament about how unfair it was that they were in this condition. They did not blame anyone else for their circumstances. Ruth found something she could do and did it.
If you want to see God’s favor at work in your life, find something you can do and apply yourself there. In the area of ministry for instance, do not wait for someone to ask you to be a preacher or teacher. Find something that needs to be done and then do it. If you need a promotion at work, go in early or stay late. Instead of doing the minimum, you can to get by with, do something extra. If you have no job, find one. If it does not pay enough expect God to give you favor so that you will find something better. God gives favor to those who do what they can.
We see later in this chapter that Ruth did not just go to the field, work a little and then try to get someone’s attention with how weak and helpless she was. She not only worked, she worked hard. When Boaz returned to the field from a trip, he saw Ruth and asked his workers who she was. Look at their response.
Ruth 2:6-7(NKJV) 6So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, “It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.”
Would Boaz have given her such favor if he had found her sitting in the house drinking their water and complaining about her situation? We do not know but I highly doubt he would have.
This leads me to another thing that caused Boaz to give favor to Ruth.
Ruth 2:10-12(NKJV) 10So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Boaz could see for himself that Ruth was applying herself in what she could do but this confirmed something else. Her character had gone before her. He had heard what she had done for Naomi. He knew that she had acted with love and integrity towards her. He knew that she was willing to sacrifice to take care of her mother-in-law and he knew that she had chosen to follow the Lord and his people instead of her gods and her people.
Does your lifestyle put you in a place to receive favor or would God have to cause your reputation to be overlooked in order to bring favor to you. The bible says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” There are times when our Christian character can cause the world to reject and even persecute us. The bible never says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for being obnoxious.” It never says we will be blessed if we are persecuted for having bad integrity or laziness.
Just because you are a Christian, it does not mean that everything negative that comes your way is persecution. I often tell people if every boss you have ever worked for has been a jerk, you might want to look at the one constant in that equation. That constant is you!
As a Christian, if you will live a life of character and integrity even in the midst of persecution, you will find that favor will come to you. The boss may not like your Christianity but if you are his best, most honest worker, when it comes time to promote he will have to consider you. I believe that there is a natural component to this, but I also believe there is a supernatural component.
God will use your character and integrity to work on your bosses bringing pressure on them to give you good things. This principle extends to any area of life. You may need favor in business or school. You may need favor in relationships. Whatever area you need favor in, if your lifestyle is one of integrity and diligence, God can use that to give you favor with someone, somehow.
Good character and a life of integrity will also help create favor in our ministry life. Those to whom you present the gospel of Jesus will be much more disposed to listen if your lifestyle reflects your words. They will also be inclined to want what you have if they see it reflected in your daily living.
Take some time and ask yourself today, “Does my lifestyle draw favor to me? Can God point to my life as one that deserves favor? Am I applying myself where I can or have I allowed the ‘entitlement’ mentality cripple me into thinking someone owes me?” The choice is yours. You can have God given favor or not.