So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal. —Ruth 2:17-18
The relationship between Boaz and Ruth is picture of the relationship we can have with God through Christ. This fact can never leave our mind as we consider the implications of what is recorded in this part of Scripture. Ruth received the opportunities Boaz’s grace provided, but then she did something that proved her uncommon humility:
Ruth gathered barley…beat out the grain…carried it back to town…gave her [mother-in-law] roasted grain…
After encountering and receiving Boaz’s unworldly kindness and extreme generosity, Ruth went to work. She did not have an arrogant, privileged, or entitled attitude. She did not think or behave like…I knew my good looks would get his attention…I knew my loyalty to Naomi would pay off…He is wealthy so he should help me…I am poor and underprivileged and deserve some pity.
Ruth sweated. All day. Even though she was noticed by the wealthy landowner, she did not expect any special treatment. She worked the field and was grateful for the opportunity to labor. How do we know this?
She gathered grain all day without complaining. She did not ask anyone to beat out her grain. She did not batt her eyes and use female charm to sucker some poor fellow into carrying her bags back to town. She freely shared with Naomi what had been offered to her.
From a horizontal view, divine grace looks like an undeserved handout with no strings attached. For all practical purposes many religious people treat God’s grace this way. We would never say it that way, but we behave that way. We begin to think, feel, and act as though we deserve grace because God is gracious. When this happens, grace becomes a privilege we flaunt or a license we use to sin.
From a vertical view, God’s grace is undeserved kindness motivated by unconditional love. Few people ever grasp the magnitude of grace, but the ones who do are easy to find. After receiving divine grace, they work. Not out of obligation or hope for an easier life, but out of deep gratitude for the One who noticed them when they had nothing worth noticing.
Ruth, after receiving Boaz’s attention and generosity, went home exhausted and satisfied willing to share with others what she had freely received. I know many religious people who are exhausted, but they are not satisfied. I know many who are fatigued with their good works, but they are selfish with their blessings. Why is this? Because it is possible to work and never experience grace. When it happens, it leaves us worn out and self-centered.
I’ve noticed those who have truly received grace work hard on their character, their Godly lifestyle, and their generous attitude. I would dare say, most who have truly received God’s grace need a spiritual nap, but they are reluctant to do so because they have been so overwhelmed by God’s kindness motivated by his unconditional love that was offered to them.
What about you? Has God’s grace changed your work ethic (and I’m not talking about your career or chores)? Has the miracle of grace made it next to impossible for you to stop working the opportunities offered to you? Can you find yourself in Ruth?
The Goodness of God by Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson is a great song for the journey. Check it out.