A gentle answer

“You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to me your servant – though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls,” responds Ruth to Boaz’s invitation for her to continue gleaning in his field, safe and protected.  Ruth, a hungry widow “perchance” starts gleaning grain in the field of Boaz in ancient Israel.  She does not know that he is related to her late father-in-law.  He is kind to her.  Why?  What motivates us to kindness?

         Perhaps Boaz is a man of scripture and was raised being taught Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  While the timeline may not suggest that, common courtesy may have been taught by his mother. I can hear my doubtful thoughts, “he’s just being polite.”

         Perhaps Boaz was being kind to butter Ruth up because she was beautiful and he had ulterior motives.  Women had little defense in those days and a foreigner gleaning probably had no one to run to.  Ruth acknowledges her helplessness and her appreciation. “Thank you”-s means a lot.

         Let me suggest another thought.  Boaz, we learn in the genealogy of Matthew 1:5 is the son of Salmon who married Rehab.  Rehab is one of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and was the woman who hid the spies checking out the Promised Land for Joshua.  Boaz’s mother was a foreigner!  How many times had Boaz heard his mother’s story was a child?  I suspect he had a soft spot in his heart for the plight of women coming into the Jewish story.

         Events in our lives may feel “random” and often we scratch our head and wonder why we had to go through a rough experience.  It is only later that we better understand the trajectory of our life.  As we are able to travel and care for others going through similar experiences, we gain perspective and can offer “gentle words,”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 shares,

            3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father        of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our          affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any          affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled   by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so        also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

As you care for others in your life today, may you if faced with exhaustion,  find that gentle answer that turns away anger, and may you reach into the experiences that God has carried you through to find the compassion to reach out to another.  Blessings.  Life is not random!

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