Sixty Pound Engagement Ring

I’m gonna take us to the book of Ruth to discuss this weeks fruit of the spirit; Kindness. Ruth has kindness woven all throughout it. I encourage you go read the whole book…it’s only four chapters..it won’t take ya long.

If you’ve never read the story I want to lay some groundwork.

This was the time when the judges ruled and due to a famine at the time a family of Bethlehem; Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons went to sojourn in the country of Moab. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband died, and Her sons married Moabite women; Ruth and Oprah. Ten years later Naomi’s sons died.

As anyone can imagine, Naomi was heartbroken and just wanted to go back home to Bethlehem. Ruth went with her despite Naomi’s efforts to have her return back to her mother’s house.

As widows, Naomi and Ruth were able to glean in the fields. This was the process for the poor, sojourners (travelers), widows and orphans to collect grain from the corners/borders of the field.

As many of you know, Ruth ended up in the field of Boaz. When Naomi realized that Boaz, a relative, was taking a liking to Ruth she set her on a mission. She gave her specific instructions (Ruth 3: 1-4)

Ruth followed her instructions (Ruth 3:6-7)

Instructions that mimicked that of a marriage proposal.

“So she lay at his feet until the morning but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, ‘Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.’ And he said, ‘Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out. ‘So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city.” Ruth 3:14-15 ESV

When I was in college I started watching the TV sitcom, “Friends”. My favorite part of the show has always been the love story between Chandler and Monica. The relationship started in secret and was always backward from the start; right down to the proposal where Monica proposed to Chandler. Not the normal sequence of events, but entertaining and melted all of the fans’ hearts. Love stories now are different than they were for the Israelites, but this love story has stood the test of time. We can still appreciate and understand the love and kindness many centuries later.

Ruth had just followed Naomi’s every instruction at the threshing floor with Boaz, and then “lay at his feet until morning” (Ruth 3:14). I can’t imagine the anxiousness she must have felt lying there throughout the night. Before she left she held out her shawl and he gave her 6 ephahs of barley (60 pounds) to bring back to Naomi (Ruth 3:15).

With all the anxiousness, I am not sure I would have been prepared for 60 pounds of barley to be dropped in my arms to carry back. In today’s culture, proposals end with hugs, laughter, and ring pictures on social media; not 60 pounds of barley. I can just picture her hunching over to carry it. I now know Ruth was not only strong emotionally, but also physically!

One big question I want to unpack is: Why did he give her barley? This could be for two reasons. The first was to conceal her and have it appear she was finishing the night shift. Let’s be honest, not a real good look having a lady leave the threshing floor at the wee hours of the morning. They would be the talk of the town!

The second to send a message to Naomi. Back in Ruth 1:21, Naomi was devastated and empty, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty”. This gift of barley is showing Naomi’s provision.

He is saying “I got you, boo!”.

The relationships between Naomi and Ruth, Ruth and Boaz, and now Boaz and Naomi are pure examples of kindness. The Hebrew word for kindness is hesed; the term reflects selfless compassion, kindness, and grace that is fundamental to God’s nature.

Marital security was important for women. What is so cool about Naomi is despite her hopelessness she still knew God was faithful and she clung to her faith in the law. Boaz could see the faithfulness of Naomi, the kindness of Ruth, and the opportunity for redemption.

Just like a mother who sees her daughter come home with a ring on her finger; Ruth was coming home with a large amount of barley to signify the rest and redemption Boaz would provide for their family.

Ruth’s kindness to Naomi by staying with her shows us her belief in our God and her turning away from the Canaanite gods. Ruth’s journey to Bethlehem is such a neat parallel to when Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem. Just as the field was no coincidence, the stable where Jesus was born was intentional. God led the Magi there just as he led Ruth to Boaz’s field.

God used Boaz on a threshing floor to give Ruth her kinsman redeemer and Jesus was born in a manger of a lowly stable as our ultimate redeemer.

The characteristic of Kindness is selfless. If you are only thinking about yourself and how you will benefit then kindness is not a fruit you are producing. Try and analyze this. Sit quietly, try and think about the last truly kind thing you have done. Let’s follow the path of Ruth and be kind; even if it leads us to a foreign place of discomfort.

Dear Lord,

I pray that kindness would be a fruit we seek to produce daily. I pray we can wake up every morning and ask for a way to show true compassion and kindness to someone. I am so thankful for the kindness of Ruth and Boaz. Their kindness paved the way for Your sons birth.

In Jesus Name

Amen

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