One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” (Ruth 2:2 NLT)
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22 NLT)
“When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do. When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22 NLT)
In any ordinary town, Ruth and Naomi would have to face the reality of their widowhood and the stigma of emptiness and deal with struggle street on their own…but this is no ordinary town, this is no ordinary nation. This is a nation delivered from slavery in Egypt and told to remember thier deliverance and thier freedom by caring and providing for foreigners, widows and orphans. Ruth has not come to an ordinary town. Ruth and Naomi have come to the house of bread : The place of provision and the place of deliverance and the place where generosity has been written into the laws of the land. When JESUS said ‘I am the bread of life’ and when he said he has come to fulfil the law….this story reminds me that I have not come to some ordinary human but when I come to Jesus and I am empty and needy, he is is not just the bread for his own people but for the foreigner and the outsider and me. He has written his provision and his grace into my story. I have not come to just any ordinary place or person. I am seeking provision from the very one who has written generosity into the law of his people because that is his nature and character. The bread of life…his physical and emotional and spiritual provision ….this law is fulfilled in the person of a Jesus Christ, the son of God. HE is a picture of this story. His provision is written into the very person and nature of the one who came to fulfill the law. When I intentionally make provision for outsiders, orphans and foreigners ..I become a conduit of the nature and character of CHRIST and his Grace to humanity. I not only position myself for blessing And personal but I am also keeping my life in perspective…without his deliverance and provision for me I too am a slave to my past and my environment and circumstances. Generosity is a reminder of where I have come from and who God is to me. As I face a new year I want to outwork the freedom and the law that CHRIST has fulfilled : in the context of generosity not to those who are already well off and have plenty. Being intentional in leaving enough in my budget and my heart to allow others to reap from the bounty of God’s provision.
I think of those who are from outside context who don’t fit my nice Christian ethos… Am I making provision for them or condemning them. Am I too busy paying off the bills that keep me in my western comfort to forget to fill the margins of my life with provision for the needs of others ?
God is speaking into my values and the margins of my life…make provision for the needy and the outcast!
It is easy to miss the depth of what is happening when Ruth suggests she go out to gather grain from the local farms. This is not a common practice for us. Every Israelite knew the depth of this practice and the why…. This was their normal but it is not mine… Ruth catches on quickly to what she is able to do to help Naomi and herself survive and get on their feet, taking advantage of the generosity written into the law of this land. The depth is hidden in the story but for any Israelite reading this or listenig to this they know exactly why Ruth does what many other foreigners do when they move into Israelite territory. They come and find provision.
This small instruction and the law put in place is easy to skim over but it speaks volumes about God. He is GENEROUS and wants me to be generous. He doesn’t make a suggestion here but a law. He puts in place a tiny (huge) law that speaks of His grace and heart for the nations and for outsiders and for the needy. Factor in the needy as you harvest and leave the margins of provision for those who need it. God uses this illustration to keep the memory of deliverance at the forefront of their minds. He is speaking provision, deliverance and redemption and grace into the laws of his people and has written it all over my relationship with Jesus. How do I play out this law as a non farmer…I need to allow the Holy Spirit to show me what the margins of my paddocks are and what orchards of my life are and how I can leave plenty for the needy.
If I am not factoring margins into my life, my time, my energy, my resources when ‘Ruth and Naomi steps into the paddock of my life’