Read Ruth 2:4-13
There are basically two kinds of people in the world. There are those who have and there are those who don’t have. It’s not necessarily fair, but it is true. There are those who have money, power, success, popularity, etc. The haves can pretty much do whatever they want in life. Then there are those who don’t have those things and they pretty much get pushed around and live doing whatever the haves tell them to do.
There are two ways this can go. The first way looks like this. The haves hoard their power and resources and ignore the have-nots, letting them suffer in obscurity. Or they exploit the have-nots and use them to get more stuff. The haves get more and more while the have-nots get less and less. The have-nots, then, resent the haves and either rebel against them or quit trying and become passive leeches, getting whatever they can from the uncaring system.
The other way this can go looks like this. The haves realize that what they have is a gift from God. They use their power and resources to help the have-nots. The haves respect the have-nots as equally valid human beings and seek to protect those who cannot help or protect themselves. The have-nots, then, seek to work hard and contribute what they can to society, realizing that the help they receive from the haves is a gift from God.
Unfortunately, society usually works like the first way and it results in violence. Today, in the second chapter of Ruth, however, we see the second way. We are introduced to a new character. His name is Boaz. Here’s the simple version of what happens:
- Boaz is a faithful and generous wealthy man—a have—who honors God in the middle of a not-so-God-honoring society (refer to the craziness of Judges: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”)
- Ruth is a hard-working, faithful foreigner—a have not—who is doing the faithful thing, even though it is the hard thing.
- Boaz notices Ruth’s integrity and hard work and he honors it.
There’s a really simple lesson here that I think every teenager in America needs to hear. Working hard is the right thing to do, even though it is…well, hard. When we work hard and do things with integrity, then people notice and, most of the time, things go better for us.
Ruth could have said, “oh, I am a widow and I have nothing, so people should take care of me.” She didn’t do this. She was willing to work hard and do what she could do.
Boaz could have said, “look, there’s a pretty young thing that I and my men could take advantage of.” He didn’t do this, either. Instead, he noticed Ruth’s hard work and he honored it with generosity.
Teenagers in the suburbs are both haves and have-nots. Compared to your peers you may be a have because your family is a have family. If that’s true, then be like Boaz to your peers who don’t have. In society, however, you are a have not in the work place. When you get your first job, or when your are in class, or when you are on your team or choir or club, you are more like Ruth. Work hard. Have integrity. Realize that it is a gift and treat it well. If you do, most likely, your boss, teacher, coach, director, will notice and be more likely to treat you with honor and generosity.
The truth is, that we are all haves and have-nots in God’s eyes. We are all sinners, and thus have-nots, because we are powerless and in need of a saviour. God is rich in generosity, that’s called Grace, and has given us the gift of salvation through Jesus. That makes us haves, because we have the gift of life. The question is this. How will you use your gift today?