March 19, 2007

The Kindness of Boaz

Every time I read Ruth chapter 2, I find myself again amazed at the character and kindness of Boaz. Lately I have been thinking to myself, ‘O, I hope my Julia will someday meet and be loved by such a strong, yet gentle man.’ In fact, as I read the entire Old Testament, there seem to be few more Christ-like characters in all its pages. So, inasmuch as he is like Jesus, Boaz deserves our imitation.

Isn’t it amazing that Ruth just “happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz” (v.3)? Surely this was God’s doing! In fact, I think the phrase “happened to” in the Bible is like God’s signature, written in small letters, at the bottom of His most beautiful works of providential art! Ruth “happened to” come into Boaz’s field because God had a wise and loving plan for her life. And Ruth “happened” into Boaz’s field because God had a wonderful plan for sending the Messiah through her family line! And Ruth “happened” into Boaz’s field because God knew that Boaz was just the type of man whom He could use to further His good plan. So what kind of man was Boaz?

Well, notice how he treated his employees. When Boaz, the owner of the farm, came into his fields to check on his workers, he was not sour, or exacting, or strictly business-like. His first words were not: ‘How is the work going?’ or ‘What kind of crop are we looking at?’ His first words to his employees were: “May the LORD be with you” (v.4). Apparently this was his custom. And, therefore, Boaz was loved and respected by his employees. When the bossman came into the field, they didn’t all begin to murmur, or act busy. They called out to him, from their hearts, “May the LORD bless you” (v.4b)! What a pattern for Christian businessmen, supervisors, and employees! And what a man for God to graft into the Messiah’s family tree!

But notice something else about Boaz. He was not only concerned about his own workers and crop. As soon as he had greeted his men, he immediately noticed a poor young girl, gathering up the leftovers from the ground so that she might feed her family. Watch what happened: He noticed her (v.5); he showed a genuine interest in her (v.6); he spoke to her (v.7); he protected her (v.8a); and he provided for her (v.8b). All of this is noteworthy! How many large business owners take time to get to know the common folk around the factory? In fact, how many of us actually notice the needy or lonely people around us? And, of those of us who notice, how many take a general interest in them? Precious few, I would guess!

But Boaz was observant, generous, and genuinely interested in this timid young woman. Verses 15-16 tug at my emotions every time I read them: “Boaz commanded his servants, saying, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. Also, you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean.’” In other words: ‘Do you see that lass who is picking up our leftovers? You make sure there are plenty of them for her to pick up!’

What mercy! What compassion! What an example for us all! And what a reminder of the even greater kindness of Jesus Christ to us poor sinners!

Do you see beauty in Boaz? Do you see in him hope and compassion? Do you see in him all that is right in the world? Then imagine how loving, compassionate, kind, and merciful Jesus is! Imagine how beautiful Christ is! And don’t just imagine. Let Boaz’s story push you forward a few hundred pages…to the stories of his greater ancestor, Jesus! And don’t just read about the kindness and compassion of Jesus. By faith, receive it; experience it; revel in it! Let handsome, strong Boaz make your heart pound for the even more lovely Bridegroom of the church, Jesus or Lord!

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