When I was a child, I was told, “giving is better than receiving”, when it came close to Christmas.
I have always loved this holiday.
As a little girl, I’d try to stay awake as long as I could, whilst I still believed in Santa Claus. In the morning, I would wake up early full of excitement and peer over the balcony to get a glimpse of the presents down below.
My siblings and I were not allowed to open any presents until the Christmas story was read aloud and we were taught that Jesus is the greatest gift of all.
God loves a cheerful giver, and generosity is taught as a Christian virtue (2 Corinthians 9:7). Around this time of year, we pack shoeboxes, we get gifts for children on angel trees and we may make donations to local charities.
In Ruth chapter two, we are introduced to a man who was also quite generous. His name was Boaz, and he was wealthy and influential in the town of Bethlehem.
If you remember Ruth and Naomi from last week, they had taken up residence in Bethlehem after coming from Moab, where they had lost the men in their family.
In a patriarchal society, there was no one who could take care of them. Thankfully, the law in Israel requires a “pauper’s portion” to be left behind in the fields so that the poor or the foreigner who own no land for themselves can come, glean, and not starve to death (Leviticus 19:9-10).
Ruth was gleaning in the fields when Boaz, the owner of the fields she was gleaning in, noticed her (Ruth 2:4-13).
Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”
The foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
Boaz went over to the woman and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”
Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
“Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”
A few hours later at mealtime, Boaz waved her over and gave her bread, wine, and more than enough roasted grain to take home with her.
When Ruth went back to work, Boaz instructed his workers to let her gather grain right among the sheaves (rather than just what had fallen), and to even pull barley out on purpose to leave behind for her to pick up.
Ruth worked the rest of the day and she brought home an entire basket of grain along with the leftover roasted grain to Naomi (Ruth 2:20-22).
Naomi blessed Boaz when she saw his generosity and said to Ruth, “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our kinsman redeemers.”
Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”
“Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”
So, Ruth continued to work in Boaz’s fields through the barley harvest and into the wheat harvest.
Boaz went above and beyond to make sure Ruth was safe and would have plenty to eat along with Naomi.
Who, in our lives, might need that extra comfort or compassion right now?
What can you and I do to live generously and help others in need?
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
Be open to living generously; perhaps you will begin to notice those in need.
And remember, the greatest gift of all is the love of Jesus Christ.
Let God’s love be manifest in our lives as we seek out those in need and live compassionately, like Boaz, who used what God blessed him with to bless others.
In love and truth,
Copyright © 2020 by Melody Turner. All rights reserved. Written exclusively for MXTV (https://mxtv.org/choosing-generosity/) No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from MXTV.