May you be richly rewarded by the Lord . . . under whose wings you have come to take refuge. Ruth 2:12
Maria carried her fast-food lunch to an empty table. As she bit into her burger, her eyes locked on those of a young man seated several tables away. His clothes were soiled, his hair hung limply, and he clutched at an empty paper cup. Clearly, he was hungry. How could she help? A gift of cash seemed unwise. If she bought a meal and presented it to him, might he be embarrassed?
Just then Maria remembered the story of Ruth where Boaz, a wealthy landowner, invited the impoverished immigrant widow to glean from his fields. He ordered his men: “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15–16). In a culture where women were utterly dependent on their connection to men for survival, Boaz demonstrated God’s loving provision. Eventually, Boaz married Ruth, redeeming her from her serious need (4:9–10).
As Maria rose to leave, she placed her untouched packet of fries on a nearby table, meeting the man’s eyes as she did so. If he was hungry, he might glean from her “fast-food field.” God’s heart is revealed in the stories of Scripture as they illustrate creative solutions to encourage.
Is there someone around you today that you might invite to “glean” from the abundance in your life? Ask God to reveal the needs around you that you might respond with His heart.
Dear Father, show me who needs me to extend Your love to them today.
For further study, read Living Justly, Loving Mercy: A Biblical Response to Our Broken World.
God gave the Israelites “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8) and commanded His people to take care of the poor living among them. Landowners were to intentionally not harvest all the grain so that the poor could glean the leftovers (Leviticus 19:9–10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19–22). God’s solution for the hungry is the generous hearts and open hands of His people (Deuteronomy 15:4–11). The law of gleaning was the backdrop for the story of Ruth. Boaz, a close relative of Naomi, was a God-fearing landowner who permitted the poor to glean in his fields (Ruth 2:1–3, 20). He even ordered his servants to deliberately “pull out some stalks for [Ruth] from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up” (v. 16). As a result of Boaz’s grace and generosity, Ruth gleaned “an ephah” or about 30 pounds (v. 17) of barley, enough to last for several weeks.
Dive deeper in the story of Ruth.