“The Lord Repay Your Work” (Ruth 2:5-12)
The book of Ruth has been a touching record of divine history for generations for many reasons. One such reason is the loyal, loving and generous character of Ruth herself. Ruth was a Moabitess who had married into an Israelite family. Elimelech and Naomi were her father-in-law and mother-in-law. Ruth had married one of their two sons (Ruth 1:4-5). Sadly, all of the Israelite males in Ruth’s immediate family died in Moab and the widows in that family were all left without a provider. While Ruth could have chosen to stay in her homeland she returned with Naomi back to Israel where Naomi would depend upon her distant Israelite family for help in her newfound poverty.
Though Naomi is grieving and bitter, Ruth shows unconditional love to her mother-in-law and journeys with her to help her in this difficult time (Ruth 1:16-22). They returned to Bethlehem destitute and completely dependent upon the mercy of God’s nation. Indeed, one family member, Boaz, proved to be generous to the poor. Ruth went into his fields during the “barley harvest” and “gleaned in the field” (1:22; 2:1-3). “Gleaning” was an Israelite practice which, basically, allowed the poor to pick up the scraps from the harvest (see Leviticus 19:9-10). It was hard and hot work. Yet, on her first day of gleaning Ruth worked from the early morning until evening with only a little rest (2:7, 17). She did so because it was a means of survival of her and Naomi. She did so, for herself, out of necessity, for Naomi, out of generosity and benevolent love.
Her sacrificial and humble kindness did not go unnoticed. Boaz, when he meets Ruth after a gleaning session, says to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:11-12).
Generosity has a way of coming full circle. Ironically, Boaz would play a part in his very wish for Ruth. He had hoped the Lord would “repay” Ruth with “a full reward” and, later, Boaz himself would be the one who would marry and provide for Ruth (4:1-22). Additionally, their child was a great blessing from God as it continued the genealogical bloodlines which would lead all the way to Jesus Christ (cp. 4:18-22; Matthew 1:5). Indeed, Ruth was repaid blessing for blessing.
So often, generosity breeds generosity. As we make sacrifices to give for the good of others, may we remember the heartwarming story of Ruth. People notice our acts of kindness. The Lord notices our sacrifices. His gracious blessings will belong to those who graciously bless others both physically and spiritually. So, may the heart of Ruth towards those who are truly in need become our heart and may “the Lord repay your work.”