Weekly Word is a weekly Friday devotional geared towards the college students at PSU Berks. But hopefully anyone else who stumbles across it finds something helpful.
This semester on campus our theme for Thursday nights is The Bible You Never Knew: Secondary Characters Who Matter. I am hoping to investigate the lives of some less known Bible characters, people who do not get a yearly mention in Sunday school growing up, like Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel. Of course, who is a secondary character is a somewhat arbitrary choice. This week we looked at Ruth, who has a whole book of the Bible dedicated to her story! So why did I choose her as a “secondary character”? In my experience, the stories of great women from the Bible such as Ruth tend to only show up in women’s Bible studies. Everyone studies David and Moses, only women study Ruth and Esther.
Like I said, its somewhat arbitrary. That said, I think the story of Ruth teaches us some amazing things. I won’t go into the details of the story here, other then to note that it is important to grasp that Ruth was a Moabite living in Israel The narrator refers to her as a Moabite quite often, not allowing us to forget her outsider status. Moabites and Israelites did not get along in those days, there was a mutual animosity. Living in Israel, Ruth would have not been trusted, she would have been seen as a questionable woman In some ways, think of negative stereotypes that immigrants have today and you may begin to get the idea of how people thought of Ruth.
Not everyone looked down on her. Boaz showed kindness to her which, to make a long story short, led to their marriage. Ruth ended up giving birth to a son whose descendants included King David and Jesus. So Ruth is rather important.
Here are four points I drew from the story with some questions I gave the students time to discuss last evening:
1. Be generous in ways that go above and beyond what is required.
Ruth would have been seen as “just an immigrant” or “just a Moabite” or “just a woman.” Who do you tend to look down on, to see as “just a _______”?
Who is someone in my life that I should make an extra effort to love and care for?
2. By walking in someone’s shoes and seeing the world from their perspective we are able to be humble and sympathize
How would the way I talk about immigration (or really, anything) be different if I tried to put myself in someone else’s shoes for one day?
3. The love of God transcends all human made borders and boundaries.
Do I tend to think God favors people who think, act, talk and look like me? Am I open to loving the people Jesus loves?
4. The most unlikely person can be used by God to be the hero of the story.
With a college education, you are someone empowered to do great things. You will have opportunities others may not. What will you do to empower all the Ruths in this culture who are going to do great works for the kingdom of God?