Last night, I had the privilege of leading our youth meeting. As the young men of the youth group, we organized a special event for the girls in honor of the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. It was a fun night. One of the guys composed a poem to honor mothers. One of the praise and worship team members played a few “romantic” solos on his saxophone. The girls were surprised to receive flowers on behalf of the men of the youth group. Our special guest speaker was the Senior pastor of Good News church, Vasile Filat.
His message was a message of encouragement for the girls and a challenge for the guys as well. Pastor Filat preached from the book of Ruth about how women could find rest for their souls in the Lord and his wish for each of the girls was to marry a man who would offer a home that provides rest for the soul. On the other side of the coin, he challenged the young men to develop their characters so that they could one day offer a home where rest for the soul could be provided.
I. Seek to serve others and God will provide rest for your soul.
In Ruth 1, we see the story opening up with a famine in the land. There is a family living in Bethlehem. The name Bethlehem is “house of bread”. It was a difficult period. There was no food, not even in the city that was the house of food. Times were tough. The family is going through a tough time. The head of the household decides to leave for Moab. The man’s wife is Naomi and they have 2 sons, whose names translate “sick” and “failing”. As I said, times were tough. The family had no food and two sick boys. They move to Moab and the boys end up marrying pagan women from Moab. Before the boys’ wives could bear children, they both died, along with their father. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law became widows. Naomi decides to return to her people in Israel because she had heard that the Lord had blessed the people of Israel with food during the severe famine. She told her two daughters-in-law to leave her and go find new husbands from their own people. The law in Israel was that if a man died childless, then the man’s brother was to take his brother’s widow as a wife and continue his brother’s name by producing an heir. Naomi had no other children and so if the girls accompanied her back to Israel, they would have had to wait for their mother-in-law to marry, have bear sons, and then wait for them to grow up to be able to marry them. Naomi was already passed child bearing age so there was no hope for Ruth and Orpah if they went back with Naomi. Orpah decided to leave Naomi. Ruth, on the other hand, decided to stay and give up her life to serve her mother-in-law. Keeping the context in mind, Naomi, a childless widow, was about to embark on a journey back to Israel with nothing to her name. It was a dangerous journey. Ruth decided to sacrifice her future to serve Naomi. Ruth was young. She could have looked out for herself yet she chose to serve, to sacrifice her life in order to assure a future for Naomi. How many people think like this today? Most of us are taught to “get ours” because no one is looking out for us but ourselves. We are encouraged to show everyone how great we are and what we can do in this life to leave our marks so that we will be immortalized by the generations to come. God teaches us to invest our lives in others and He will bless us. If you want rest for your soul then seek to serve others and God will bless you with rest for your soul and a legacy that will honor Him and you. Ruth, born a pagan, understood this concept. She chose to invest in Naomi’s future above her own and God honored her for it.
II. Seek to work hard.
In Ruth 2, Ruth and Naomi arrive in Israel and Ruth demonstrates her knowledge of God’s people and His laws. She asks Naomi if she can go and glean in the fields. When God gave the laws to the children of Israel, He taught them about day to day living. One of the laws that He gave was about harvesting. In order to care for the widows, orphans, and poor, God told the harvesters to not to pick up the left over portions when they harvested. They were also to leave the corners untouched. The poor who could not provide for themselves would be able to come and glean in the field themselves. This is where the idea of a hand-up instead of a hand-out comes from. The poor were still to work for their food like everyone else. Ruth understood this and so she went to glean for Naomi and herself. God orchestrated things so that she gleaned in Boaz’s field. He is a godly man who fears the Lord and does what is right. He is also a kinsman of Naomi and is able to redeem Ruth as his wife (since Naomi has no other sons to do it). Ruth does not know any of this. She goes to work in order to provide for herself and Naomi. Ruth worked hard all day until evening. The amount of barley she gathered, once beaten out, came to be between 50 and 60 pounds. That is an enormous amount of work for one day. Boaz noticed her hard work and he liked her character. He chose to help her, not because he wanted something from her but because he was impressed by her work ethic. If you want to find spiritual rest then you need to be a hard worker when it is time to work. Do not sit around expecting others to take care of you. Unfortunately, this is what many of the current generation believe, that it is someone’s job to take care of them, whether it comes from their parents, the government, the church, the society etc. They feel as if the world owes them something. Ruth was not like that. She had experienced a rough life and if there were anyone who thought that he or she was owed anything, it would have been Ruth. But, she was faithful to the Lord and knew that she was called to work for what she received.
III. Seek to be a grateful person.
Again we look to chapter 2 in order to see her gratefulness. The fact that she was a hard worker goes hand in hand with the fact that she is grateful. Contrary to modern opinion, we are not as great as we think that we are. The Bible teaches that we are like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. The evil one wants us to think that the world would stop spinning if we were not around to be so great all the time. The evil one teaches us that the world owes us something. Ruth was taught God’s values so she knew how to be appreciative when others did nice things for her. Many times, people who expect that others owe them something do not know how to say thank you or even feel the need to do so. Ruth not only saw the need but she also knew how to show her appreciation to Boaz. Ruth was able to find rest for her soul because she was grateful for what others did for her. She understood the fact that no one owed her anything. What about you my friend, have you bought the lie that says the world owes you something? How do you treat those who do nice things for you? Do you feel your parents owe you an education or are you grateful that they want to help you attain one? How do you show that appreciation to those who have done nice things for you, such as teachers, parents, pastors, family members etc.? What about God, do you show Him the appreciation that He deserves since He gave you life, gives you air to breathe, and keeps your heart beating? Jesus Christ taught about being grateful. God even dedicates an entire Psalm to being grateful.
IV. Seek to follow godly advice from others.
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11)
These are the words of Jesus Christ. Although Ruth did not know these words, she did know the Author of them, God. This is exactly what she does. Ruth had a great mentor in her life, Naomi. Her mother-in-law took Ruth during her pagan days and ways, and began to teach her the ways of God. Ruth’s life was transformed. In the New Testament, this is known as repenting or being born again. This decision impacts every aspect of a person’s life. When it came time to marry, Ruth sought out the godly advice of Naomi and then followed that advice exactly. This is all taught to us in Ruth 3. Today, many young people grow up thinking that they know it all and that no one can tell them anything, especially when it comes to “love” and relationships. How do you respond when godly people try to give you godly advice, especially if it goes against what you feel or think? Do you just ignore them and do what you want? If you want to find rest for your soul then you need a godly person who gives godly advice in your life to advise you in all matters. Naomi’s advice to Ruth led Ruth to turn to God in the midst of her heavy burdens and she found rest.
III. Allow God to honor you in His own time.
Boaz did what he was supposed to do as a real man. He sacrificed to redeem Ruth and took her as his wife. He offered he a home where she could find rest for her soul. She was blessed. Naomi was blessed and God was praised because of all of this. Ruth bore a son to Boaz, whose name was Obed. This son Obed, had a son named Jesse. Jesse became the father of David, the second king of Israel and part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savor of the world. This pagan woman was honored by God by being taken in to the nation of Israel and taking part in the lineage of the Messiah. Also, God dedicated 4 chapters of His Holy Word to this faithful woman. What about you, are you ready to serve others, seeking to help them above yourself so that God will honor you at the right time? This is the key to finding rest for your soul. Are you ready for it?