What does an Old Testament book about a woman named Naomi, her daughter in-law Ruth, her husband Boaz and their baby Obed have to do with our faith or life in 2017? That is the question we have been reflecting on as a congregation for several Sundays now. Our sermon series on Ruth has been rich so far because it has expressed the heart of the redeemer and has helped us see the heart we should reflect as his redeemed people.
This past Sunday we heard a great message from Ruth 2. In that chapter we encountered a man named Boaz who God used in the life of Ruth and Naomi to provide for them in their time of need. Leading up to chapter 2 there is a building sense of anticipation over how God would provide for these two ladies. By the time you come to this chapter you quickly realize that God’s provision will not come supernaturally like it did in the book of Exodus or Numbers where he provided manna for his people who were hungry in the wilderness. God will provide for these two women through ordinary means and through an ordinary person. But God’s provision nonetheless has extraordinary implications for us as his redeemed people.
In chapter 2 we are informed that Ruth, the daughter in-law of Naomi, went into the fields to glean among the wheat harvest to provide for herself and her mother in-law. It is there in the fields that she encounters Boaz, a man who lives out his faith among his workers and his neighbors. As you read through the chapter and pay close attention to how Boaz responds both as a boss and as a neighbor one important truth becomes evident: genuine faith gets expressed in the fields not just in the sacred assembly. The fields represent the places we work and live and interact with others in our community. To live out our faith in the fields means that we express our faith not simply when we are gathered on Sunday but also when we are scattered throughout our community, Monday through Saturday, in every sphere of life.
In Boaz we find a wonderful example of a man who expressed his faith in the fields not just in the sanctuary. Unfortunately God’s people have not always modeled this well. One of the major concerns of the prophets in Israel was how the redeemed people of God were treating each other especially those in need. Consider these words from Isaiah 58:3, 6-7,
“Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it? Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure and oppress all your workers…Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
These words from the prophet Isaiah are sobering and helpful! Negative examples in Scripture like this one are important to reflect on because they remind us that we too are susceptible to compartmentalize our faith by not living out our faith in the fields where God has placed us.
When you begin to reflect on the countless ways you can express your faith in everyday life it may at first seem overwhelming, so let me suggest one example from Ruth 2. Intentional care for the poor is a practical way that faith gets expressed in the fields. I want to recommend that you take a moment and read Leviticus 19:9-10 and answer this question, how can I apply the principle of gleaning in the field where God has placed me? I use the word “principle” when speaking about the gleaning laws for two reasons; 1). As New Covenant Christians we are not bound to the Mosaic Law as the Israelites were in the days of Moses. 2) Even though some of you reading this may grow your own crops few if any of us could apply the gleaning law as stated in Leviticus 19:9-10.
Can I suggest that whether you are single or married or have children that you sit down reflect upon or discuss the principle of gleaning found in Leviticus 19. Think through and talk about practical ways you can care for the poor in your context. One way my family sought to apply this principle in the past was to take out $20 from every paycheck and then take our children to the store to buy groceries for the poor. Maybe for you or your family it looks very different. Whatever ideas you come up with, I can guarantee you this, if you don’t seek to be intentional you will not give to the poor and needy regularly. The key to living out our faith in the fields requires intentionality. Now comes the best part, go read Ruth 2 and Leviticus 19:9-10 and then pray, plan and act for the good of others and the glory of God!!!
Joshua leads a home group and oversees the college ministry of Lifegate Church. He also serves in teaching capacities of the adult Sunday school as well as being on the preaching rotation for the Sunday morning worship gathering. Joshua graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2009.