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Kindness: Growing Goodwill

Ruth 2

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 2:13, “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.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Ruth shows a kindness to Naomi. She stays leaves her homeland and comes to live with her in Judah. Boaz shows a kindness to Ruth. He instructs his people to treat her well, allows her to take grain from his fields that will feed her in a time of famine. He gives her water, protection and rest. When asked why Boaz would do this he responds, “Because you showed kindness to Naomi.”

There’s something about kindness and goodwill that builds momentum. It builds over time. It spills out into the lives of others. It’s an investment that returns more than you put into it. It creates in others a willingness to do good for you. Said another way, kindness builds into people a goodwill for you. For Ruth, it was the beginning of a love story.

APPLICATION

What kindness have you received? What have you given? Whose life could you influence today with a little kindness? For Ruth, Boaz’s kindness prompted a simply reaction, “I hope I continue to please you, sir.” Because of the kindness of someone else who will you attempt to please today? Who will attempt to please you? It’s such a basic principle we almost laugh it off as something for a kindergartener to learn, but it works regardless of your age. Kindness changes people. Look for ways to be kind to others today.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your kindness to me. Your word says that your kindness led me to repentance. Like Ruth, I pray I will continue to please you. Help me to show kindness to others today. I don’t always know how to be kind. I don’t always want to be kind. Help me see the need and give me the desire to show your kindness to people today.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Bitter: Amplify the Sweetness

SweeTarts - Bitter SweetRuth 1

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 1:16-18, “…wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Bitter. Why do love stories always seem to start with something so bitter? The Book of Ruth is a love story. It’s a story about family. It’s the story of a Mother-in-Law who suffered great loss and a Daughter-in-Law blessed by and a blessing to her entire family.

SPOILER ALERT. It’s great to know the end of the story. Ruth returns to Judah with Naomi. Ruth meets and marries a son of Israel. The coolest part of all? Through the bloodline of Ruth is born David, King of Israel. Through his bloodline would come Jesus, redeemer and Savior of all. That sounds big. It sounds significant. It sounds important. It sounds blessed.

But that’s not how Naomi felt. She was Ruth’s Mother-in-Law. She is part of this bloodline and a significant part of the story too. But in chapter one she doesn’t feel blessed. She feels bitter. Rightfully so, I think.

She met and married the love of her life. Moved from her homeland. Gave birth to two sons. What  happens next is tragic. Her husband dies. Both sons die. She’s left living in a land of foreigners where the economy has crashed, food is hard to come by and she’s the one responsible for her household, two morning Daughters-in-Law.

Mara, bitter, numb – it’s all Naomi has left to feel. Desperate, she returns to her homeland. Her Daughters-in-law follow. Naomi knows what it’s like to live far from home. She graciously releases her Daughters-in-law to return to their family. One goes. Ruth stays. My wife and I borrowed her words for our wedding vows.

“Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Through the tragic and bitter beginning to the story of Naomi and Ruth is a glimmer of hope, a brief glimpse of love that cuts through bitterness and out lives tragedy. Naomi had won the heart of Ruth.

There was much to morn. Bitterness seems like the appropriate response. But just beneath the surface of bitterness was the sweet center of genuine love that will eventually write the story of salvation for you and me.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had a Sweetart? People deliberately put these bitter pills in their mouth for the sweetness that will later come if only they hold on. This is the pain of bitterness Naomi experienced. Certainly she suffered tragedy. Bitterness was an appropriate response. But she held on. Ruth encouraged her. Her family helped her. And in the end she became great-grandmother to kings. The bitterness of this moment amplified the sweetness of the next.

Life will have bitter moments. The relationships you build before the bitterness can sustain you. Don’t take them for granted. The end of the thing is better than its beginning. Hold on. God is working out the divine story of his relentless affection for you.

Are you living through a bitter season now? Hold on. There’s sweetness ahead.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Help. In moments of tragedy, when things don’t go my way, when the odds are stacked against me, when everything falls apart – help. I love and trust you. I believe you have my best interest at heart. I believe you know what’s best for me. I know that you are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or think. In my bitter moments give me the presence of mind to remember that the bitterness of this moment amplifies the sweetness of the next. Give me the strength to hold on. Help me trust and follow you in difficult times and celebrate and honor you when things are good. Thank you for my marriage and my family. I am blessed through them. Bless them with your favor today.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad