Ruth Part Three
9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.”
The story of Ruth is replete with tension. It is a story from the perspective of widows at a time when women had little voice in society. It is a story from the perspective of the poor in a town with no government sponsored safety net. It is a story from the perspective of a foreigner in a community identified by clans and tribes and families.
But nowhere is the tension higher than in this sentence in Ruth 3. Ruth identifies herself as a servant. In truth, she is poor, a widow, and a foreigner. She has entered into the intimate presence of one who is the opposite of all of those things. She has exposed her vulnerability and grasped the reins of her own life. Instead of waiting and listening as was expected, she spoke her need and her desire. I am your kin. Take care of me.
Each of us finds ourselves in tension in life. Seldom do we find ourselves with the courage to step into the tension like Ruth. Perhaps this is wise. There are not many places like Boaz in life that receives our vulnerability and our voice. That is the tension.
Why does Boaz receive Ruth? We immediately suppose the answer to be linked to his own desires and his own needs. But the rest of the text resists this theory. Instead, Boaz speaks readily of God and the worthiness of Ruth. Boaz’s receptivity flows from his own understanding and experience of God and his understanding that she is his kin. He does not identify her as poor, widow, and foreigner. He identifies her as connected to him.
This is where this text immediately challenges us today. It challenges us to identify people by their connection to us in God. When we are in the position of Ruth, we must ignore the voices that belittle and sideline us. We are worthy of connection and care. When we are in the position of Boaz, we must resist the temptation to define ourselves by the gifts God has given us. Rather, we must grasp the opportunity to testify to our connection by using those same gifts!
Jesus, your Scripture testifies that in You, we are kin (Ephesians 3:15). That is not an idea that is readily acted on by the world around me. Grant me the courage of Ruth today to both be vulnerable and courageous. Grant me the humility and awareness of Boaz. Help me to live into the connectedness that you have placed around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.