Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
Suffering (Part 44)
A Bad Background: Ruth
'Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.'
So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Ruth 1:15-16, 22 (NASB)
At best, Ruth's background was questionable. She was raised in Moab, not Israel, and Moab was an alien nation filled with outsiders and idolaters. So when Ruth's Jewish husband passed away, would she return to her previous life? Or would pages of her past be erased?
No and Yes! Ruth's remarkable virtue and outstanding behavior in tough times won the respect of her future husband and a position in God's Hall of Fame. Ruth is the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor of Jesus Himself.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Do you brag or bemoan your background? If so, ponder the four points below:
1) Clearly, God loves His chosen people, but He cast two unlikely ladies as stars. Before Ruth was Rahab, a harlot. Both are named in the Bloodline of Christ. Therein, good deeds mean more than bad pasts.
2) If you're thankful to be a Christian, so am I, but don't brag about it. Smug Christians don't witness Jesus well. Instead advertise your weaknesses, and the forgiving God Who helped you.*
3) If your background has a checkered past, and your kin made some major mistakes--or maybe the mistakes were your own, overcomers are cherished by God--perhaps more than those who never strayed.**
4) God picks foolish men and little kids: grateful people who know what He's worth and have the humility to learn. In media, forget background checks. Instead, look at character and heart.
To Be Continued...
* 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!' ' (Matthew 7:21-23).
* My daughter, Glynis (in New York) left the church she finally found because the pastor kept bragging about his background: how long he had been saved, how godly his parents were and how his daughters were virgins who married godly men. Glynis had none of these things and felt out of place. When she kindly approached him with her feelings, he was unrepentantly proud. I do not believe pride or bragging is godly.
* Paul, a highly educated Pharisee and Roman who became God's top traveling evangelist, said, 'If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness' (2 Corinthians 11:30).
** 'There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance' (Luke 15:7).
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Suffering series.