Our choice to see

Ruth 2:1-13

Tradition recognizes Boaz as a generous man. It’s thought he would’ve been part of the Sanhedrin, a religious ruling council. So, his reputation would’ve stood out to many of his people. That helps explain his willingness to help Ruth. She may have caught his attention with her beauty, but his charitable manner was key, too.

But we call the story by the name of its real hero, Ruth. She made the difficult decision to remain with her mother-in-law Naomi. They both lost their husbands. The younger Ruth still had options for making a life for herself after her loss. 

Naomi did not. By staying with Naomi, Ruth is saving her life. Ruth’s sacrifice goes down in Israelite history as a moment of redemption and hope. But even before that, it’s an act whose reputation spreads, too.

The irony is Ruth was a Moabite. Culturally speaking, she was not supposed to do nice things like that. Moabites were pagan. They did not serve, fear or worship God. Don’t think this is no big deal. We don’t know her Moabite lineage by accident. 

When Ruth first met Boaz, someone introduced her as “the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab” (Ruth 2:6). 

People recognized Ruth chose to follow Naomi. And she made the choice every day to continue. Boaz, too, made a choice. He only knew two things about her. He found out she was one of those people who aren’t supposed to do nice things. Then he learned she’s the one who chose to sacrifice for her mother-in-law.

Which characteristic would he pay mind to?

It’s not always an easy decision for us. Many times we have our minds made up about people. Usually, something about their history shapes our perception of them. Or maybe even something about what we see right here and right now. And that perception dictates how we interact or engage with them, if we do at all. 

You could say the generosity of Boaz helped him see more the beauty of who Ruth was. But even nice, generous people can choose otherwise. Our challenge is to see past what we think we know about people. Choose to learn to see people for who they are.

That’s a choice that could lead to greater blessings.

Stay blessed…john

Almost perfect

Philippians 2:12-18

Trying to live perfectly is not a sustainable practice. If it’s impossible for us, it’d be exhausting to try to make it happen. I find it more helpful to emphasize our pursuit of holiness instead. That centers our focus on the holiness of God.

It also helps me see that just because I’m not perfect today, doesn’t mean I’m not better than I thought I could be. Is not being as angry or impatient today as I used to be not a win?

It is.

And I want to offer another practice that goes a long way in our pursuit of holiness. Philippians 2:14 says to “do all things without murmuring and arguing.” Imagine that! Doing everything without complaining about someone else or joining in frivolous hostility.

Think of what we could accomplish. Consider the healing we could nurture and share. 

I have yet to meet a pastor or church leader who didn’t have an abundant supply of murmur stories. We all know what it is to listen to petty argument after argument disguised as helpful feedback. 

The results? 

Well, I know several eager and faithful leaders who decided it was too much. They went somewhere else. More and more, we’re hearing about pastors themselves who have left ministry. The back bighting and infighting was insufferable.

So, let’s note how our murmuring and complaining impacts others and the ministry we say we care about. But also notice more of what the verse from Philippians says. Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent. 

There’s a personal toll to murmuring and complaining, too. It takes us away from the image of God within us. It clouds our perception of others and it steals our joy of life.

Now, I’m not sure the apostle Paul was talking about living a perfect life. In his encouragement to not murmur or argue, though, he did use words like blameless, innocent and without blemish. And that is close enough for me!

Stay blessed…john