I am.. Empowered| Week 2: Everyday
Ruth is one of two books in which God is not directly present (the other being Esther). He is mentioned but He does not speak or act. This is significant to note because it is a book about how God had such and influence on a person that their character was affected and became of such quality that it honored God. The Lord empowers us to have character just like Ruth did.
Naomi and Her family traveled to Moab because there was a great famine in Israel. They left land and family behind because the hunger was so great, they were more willing to take their chances in a foreign land than to face death through starvation. This was a big deal because Moab had historically been an enemy of Israel, so we can infer that Naomi and her family would not have received the greatest reception. They were there so long, that her two sons married Moabite women Ruth and Orpha. Unfortunately all the males of the family passed away and now the women were left alone.
You see when a woman became a widow, there were limited options for them. In Jewish culture, it was the job of the family to take care of her. Unfortunately for Naomi, her entire family passed away. The daughters in Law were left alive, but were also widows and had no means of supporting themselves. Orpha was lucky to be in Moab as she went back to her family and they took care of her, but Naomi, a foreigner, did not have this luxury. She had to travel back to Israel in the hope that she could find her husbands family and that they would take her in and help her by buying the land left to her by her husband and sons.
Ruth is the story of one of Jesus’ ancestors, a Moabite woman who after becoming a widow she returns to Israel with her mother in law. She was an honorable woman of great character who went above and beyond what her culture demanded to care for her dead husbands mother.
Ruth did not have to do this. She could have stayed and sent Naomi home, but such was her character that she chose to care for aged Naomi until her dying day. She was going to fulfill the duties of the family, even though there was no family left, simply because she loved God. This was hard for Ruth because she had to lower herself to basically the poorest of the poor people.
It was a custom for farmers to leave some grain behind as they harvested so that the poor and the travelers could pick up enough to eat. It was part of Jewish Law, ordained by God to show travelers how he provided for his people so much that they had leftovers, and this is where we find Ruth. She didn’t go to a palace or a rich man’s house. She arrived in Israel with her mother in Law and Naomi was not even recognized by her family and no one took her in. So it fell to Ruth to care for them both. Remember that it was Jewish law to care for the widows, yet no one, not even Naomi’s family took care of her. She was seen as an outsider by her very own family simply because they left during a famine.
Ruth’s character was strong. It was a character based on the God of her Mother-in-Law. She believed whole heartedly and so she did what she could to help. Not too long after Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi, noticed Ruth’s character. He had his servants leave extra grain behind and made sure she was protected. Ruth could take care of her mother in law, and everyday she would rise to provide for both of them. Her daily character was empowered by looking after someone else.
Ruth’s story is amazing because it gives us a glimpse at a life that was touched by God who lived out her life following the principles she believed in and was empowered by God to live a life of upright character everyday. What does this mean for us? well, our character is the very first thing that God develops. If our character is not strong, then our message and our life will not be when difficult times rise. God’s empowerment is not a simple matter of practices or even doling out rights, it is about changing the innermost part of our being so that we have strong characters that can be an example to all who look at us and want become attracted to the change God brings in us. It is not about us making our selves better, but it is all about God empowering out lives. This empowerment is so that everyday we are willing to help others around us from the marginalized person with no home, to the classmate who just does not fit in with the rest of the crowd. Our character is empowered by God so we look after each other everyday.
Read and underline the verses on below in your Bible. Write any verses that jump out at you on some paper or a journal, so you don’t forget them.
Read and underline the verses on the following page in your Bible.
Ruth 1:15-20 (NIV)
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Romans 5:1-4 (NIV)
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Proverbs 10:9 (ESV)
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
Why do you think suffering helps us develop strong character?
Think about your social circles. has there been a time when you compromised your character?
What would change if you more fully accepted and internalized that you are Empowered to produce a strong character?
Take a few moments to reflect and thank God for empowering your character.
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