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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Know Grace, Show Grace

Pastor Mike Wittmer

Cedar Springs Baptist Church

233 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

One perk of getting older is the joy of rediscovery. Things I once knew have been forgotten—pushed aside by other, foot-stamping facts about parenting, finance, and Cleveland sports. While preaching through the book of Ruth, I was surprised to learn again the secret of Boaz’s love for this outsider.

Perhaps you remember the story. Naomi’s husband escaped a famine in Bethlehem by taking his family to Moab, where his sons married and then all the men died, leaving Naomi with her two foreign daughters-in-law. Both pledged to return to Bethlehem with Naomi, but after Naomi urged them to stay in Moab, only Ruth insisted on coming along. She vowed, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16; NIV). 

Back in Bethlehem, Ruth gleaned in the barley fields to gather food for her and Naomi, where she caught the eye of Boaz. He graciously filled her arms with grain, warned his men not to touch her, and when Ruth proposed, agreed to marry her and provide a home for her and Naomi. 

Why did Boaz love this Moabite woman? The Moabites were enemies of God’s people who worshiped the “detestable” god Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). They were not allowed to enter the assembly of the LORD until the tenth generation, which meant forever (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). Moabite women had tempted Israelite men into sexual sin and idolatry (Numbers 25:1-3), and Israelite men were told to never marry them (Deuteronomy 7:2-6).

Boaz knew all this, but he also knew Ruth had pledged to be faithful to Israel’s God. He respected her commitment to Naomi, and he knew something about being an outsider. When Boaz looked at Ruth, he saw his own mother, Rahab (Matthew 1:5). Rahab was a pagan prostitute who hid the spies that came to Jericho, and she was spared when Israel took the city. Boaz remembered how his mother had been saved and he cheerfully chose to rescue Ruth. 

People who know they’ve been graced extend grace to others. What grace have you received? Well, you’re alive and created in the image of God. That’s a lot. You live in America, which offers more freedom than any country ever has. You live in Cedar Springs, which has fine churches that proclaim the good news about Jesus. And if you’ve thrown all your weight on him, you have received the forgiveness of sin. Who has it better than you? 

We are Boaz. As we head into our fields, we may see people who could use a hand. We can look away, or we can remember how much grace we’ve received from Jesus. Where would we be without him? Thank your Father for his love, and pass it on.

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