February 27, 2017
"Lie down until the morning." Ruth 3:13b (ESV)
You know that moment when one thing led to another, things were kind of a blur, and it all happened so fast?
Maybe there was an argument where you said something harsh “in the moment” instead of thinking through your response. Or perhaps you signed up for a volunteer position without fully evaluating the time commitment required.
Sometimes we say “yes” to something because at the time it seems like the only appropriate response to an on-the-spot request with those pleading puppy dog eyes asking for your help. However, “yes” and “no” are not the only conversational exits to weighty requests. Just because a situation is rapidly moving in one direction, our words don’t necessarily have to. What if we took our cues from the Old Testament character Boaz?
Boaz was a relative of Naomi and a “worthy man,” as Ruth 2:1 says. Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law, and Ruth was a beautiful widow who worked in Boaz’s fields collecting grain. Boaz looked out for Ruth, gave her food and made sure she had plenty of grain to take back to Naomi.
Then one night, Naomi suggested Ruth go lie down at Boaz’s feet. Ruth went to Boaz after he’d “eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry” (Ruth 3:7a, ESV).
Did you catch that? Boaz was alone with a single woman and already in a happy mood. Some things could have “happened so fast” in this situation. But they didn’t. Why not?
One reason may have been Boaz’s wise words. They were not the sweet nothings a man often uses to woo a lady, but the sensible actions of perception and patience.
Ruth wanted Boaz to redeem her by becoming her husband. However, Boaz had already researched the matter and knew he was not the first in line for this lovely lady. He said, “Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning” (Ruth 3:12‒13, ESV).
Wasn’t that tender? I am so amazed at Boaz’s self-control, thoughtfulness, overall compassion and kindness. He didn’t micromanage. He didn’t jump the gun. He was considerate of others in the situation, and he wanted to do what was right. He practiced great restraint, not taking advantage of Ruth by doing something against God’s commands.
Boaz decided they all needed a bit of time to sort the situation out and so he urged, “Lie down until the morning.” Maybe (and perhaps it’s a bit far-fetched) this was the first biblical account of someone saying “Let me sleep on it.” (Hey, you never know.)
By waiting until morning, Boaz was able to clearly and legally sort things out with the other man. He used his words wisely the next day, and in the end he was able to redeem and marry Ruth. Then, at the appropriate time, Ruth and Boaz were able to … well … have some horizontal fellowship as man and wife. And it did not happen too fast, or in a dishonoring way. It happened in a God’s-perfect-timing kind of way.
So the next time a situation seems to be escalating too fast for you to think and process clearly, stop. Be honest. Be kind, yet direct. Take time to consult God before responding to people. We can save ourselves a heap of heartache and regret if only we’d learn to lie down until the morning.
Dear heavenly Father, please help me weigh my words carefully. Allow me to have wise, tender and patient responses in situations that could easily escalate into sin. Please help me put into practice the art of speaking words that honor You at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 15:28, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” (ESV)
For more encouragement to use your words wisely, pre-order Karen Ehman's new devotional, Zip It! The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge. When you purchase it through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you'll receive a bonus printable PDF of designed Scripture memory cards called Deeper by the Dozen: 12 Bible Passages to Deepen Your Walk with Christ.
Beginning this Wednesday, Karen will be leading a Facebook group for 40 days during Lent. However, instead of giving up chocolate or another much-loved treat, we will be giving up using our words wrongly. Daily encouragement, Facebook live videos, and group interaction will happen from March 1 through April 15 (with no interaction on Sundays). For details and to sign up, head to Karen’s blog.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Look up Proverbs 15:28, jot it down on a sticky note or notecard, then keep it in a place where you will see it before falling asleep at night. This will help you remember that not every response needs to happen in the heat of the moment. Words can wait until morning. Decisions can wait until morning. Commitments can wait until they’ve been properly evaluated and prayed over.
© 2017 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.