July 4, 2013
READ: Ruth 2:5-23
[The Lord] is showingHis kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers (v.20).
A pastor and his congregation, serving in an area known for addicts, alcoholics and prostitutes, haveprayed an interesting prayer for many years: Lord, send us the people nobody else wants. That prayer has been answered, as more than 800 church attendees are now involved in recovery programmes designed to help them break free from destructive lifestyles. Recently the pastor added this phrase to the end of his prayer: . . . and nobody else sees. He says, “[These people] are often overlooked. . . . But after all, as Jesus put it, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do’ ” (Matthew 9:12).
There once lived two women who definitely could have been shunned and overlooked—Naomi and Ruth. Due to the twin challenges of living in a patriarchal society (Naomi was a widow) filled with ethnic prejudice (Ruth was a Moabitess), the two were in a “bitter” place (Ruth 1:3-4,20).
But by God’s grace one man didn’t see them in the negative way that many did. Boaz showed “kindness” to the two women—noting the kindness Ruth had shown to his relative Naomi (2:11,20). He even blessed Ruth, saying, “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done” (v.12).
Get this: Ruth was welcomed and helped even though she was a widow, had come from an undesirable nation and wasn’t one of Boaz’s workers (v.13). Although different and needy, she was redeemed by this “family redeemer” (v.20)—a man she would eventually marry! (4:13).
Who are the “people nobody else wants” in your world? How can you help them find redemption in Jesus and a healthier way of life? In Jesus’ eyes, all people are wanted.—Tom Felten
› Matthew 7:13-29
Read Isaiah 1:17 and note God’s compassionate instruction communicated through the prophet.
How did Jesus model genuine love and concern for unwanted people? What can you do to follow His example?