At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here, and eat some of this bread, and dip your morsel in the sour wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he heaped up for her some parched grain. She ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she got up to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, ‘Let her glean even among the standing sheaves, and do not reproach her. You must also pull out some handfuls for her from the bundles, and leave them for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.’ So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. She picked it up and came into the town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gleaned. Then she took out and gave her what was left over after she herself had been satisfied. Her mother-in-law said to her, ‘Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.’ So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, ‘The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.’ Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’ Naomi also said to her, ‘The man is a relative of ours, one of our nearest kin.’ Then Ruth the Moabite said, ‘He even said to me, “Stay close by my servants, until they have finished all my harvest.”’ Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, ‘It is better, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, otherwise you might be bothered in another field.’ So she stayed close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests; and she lived with her mother-in-law.
Kindness is a key element of this passage, and it’s a gift we sometimes forget in this modern and fast-moving age. Boaz’s kindness to a stranger is the catalyst for his eventual marriage and is also an echo of God’s kindness to us as ‘strangers in the world’. It is interesting to note that Ruth has leftovers to the meal provided by Boaz, which reminds us of the leftovers found when Jesus fed the multitudes. Kindness is always more than enough in our lives.
Boaz’s kindness to Ruth doesn’t end with just a meal. He also gives his men instructions for keeping her safe and helping her as she carries out her work during the day. A kindness, once offered, gives birth to many more of the same. In our own working lives, how kind are we to those around us? And what more can we do for them to help and respect their contributions?
When Ruth returns home, she doesn’t keep all her spoils to herself but offers them to Naomi as well so that both women have what they need. When Naomi realises who has protected her daughter-in-law, she is the first to praise Boaz for his kindness, and beyond that to acknowledge that it is the Lord who has made this miracle possible. It is indeed God who offers His kindness and grace to us every day of our lives.
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of kindness and indeed for all Your many kindnesses to us. Open our eyes to the opportunities to show kindness and care to those around us, in our work and in our home lives, and through our acts of charity, may the eyes of many ‘strangers’ be opened to Your wonderful love. Amen.