Sept. 4, 2009
“Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close by my maidens.’”
Ruth 2: 8
A Time of Compassion
“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to (her), ‘What are you going through?’”
How have I practiced ‘compassion” toward those God has placed in my life?
“By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves, also.”
“As soon as we cease to bleed we cease to bless.”
John Henry Jowett
Two lonely widows. Wandering tired and destitute into the city of Bethlehem, where they were greeted by old friends as well as new.
As they entered the city of Bread, Ruth 2: 1, tells us that as God ALWAYS does, He had a surprise for these two women.
“Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a man of wealth of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz” (Ruth 2: 1, Amplified Bible). When we look at two particular words in this passage of Scripture, ‘Kinsman’ and ‘Boaz,’ while we aren’t given an exact meaning of either word, we are able to find that “Boaz,” was also the name of a pillar in Solomon’s temple. I find it supremely interesting that the man, Boaz, was a “pillar” in his community of Bethlehem. He was a man of wealth, who turned out to be “kinfolk” of Elimelech’s family. It appears when Naomi left Bethlehem, either she wasn’t well acquainted with Boaz or possibly he wasn’t a man of means at the time. But while Elimelech was away in Moab trying to protect what was his, God was in Bethlehem blessing those who were His – and this was Boaz, the “pillar.”
As soon as Naomi and Ruth arrived back “home,” Ruth made an immediate commitment to get to work. In future devotionals, we’ll take a look at the virtuous qualities present in Ruth, this daughter of God.
Today, however, I want to begin a four-day study about what our heavenly Father does for us when it’s “Harvest-Time.” First, during this feeding time in our lives after the famine is over, God showers us with His gift of compassion, just as Boaz showed compassion on Ruth.
I want to look closely at two specific attributes of God’s compassion to you and me as exemplified by Boaz in his treatment of Ruth.
“Then Boaz said to his servant who was set over the reapers, ‘Whose maiden is this?’ And the servant set over the reapers answered, ‘She is the Moabitish girl who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab…Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close to my maidens” (Ruth 2: 5-8, Amplified Bible).
Now I want to clarify what the word “compassion” really means for I misunderstood the depth and intent which is conveyed when we use this word. I mistakenly thought that “compassion” meant I felt sorry for someone else. How wrong I was! Compassion is so much broader and deeper. It is a God-like, heavenly trait expressed so touchingly in Lamentations 3: 21-23 (K.J.V) “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” This description of compassion more closely matches Webster’s dictionary which spotlights the original Latin meaning of the word compassion – “to suffer.” Or as it is defined today, “Sympathetic concern for the suffering of another, together with the active desire to give aid and support and to show mercy.”
This is why we find that when Jesus came to earth, the expressions of compassionate love He reflected were the same expressions given to Him by His Father. In Mark 1: 40-42 (K.J.V), we are told about a leper who came to Jesus and, ‘Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him.”
This wasn’t a show put on to impress others with His miracle-working powers. This was Jesus fulfilling the Father’s purpose, “I have glorified Thee on the earth.” (John 17: 4, K.J.V.). The same compassionate love from the Father’s heart in heaven, came down to earth and was infused into every life Jesus touched. And in the life of Ruth, the Moabite, the foreigner, the outsider, we see the example of the compassionate Father again bringing the outcast under His care – not to punish or to control – but to love and to feed.
When the hired-hands referred to Ruth as a Moabitess, I thought of so many times when some of God’s children, the workers in His field, have referred to daughters of God as divorcées or tramps or fallen-women. Some of God’s workers don’t show the same compassion their Father does. Like the children of Israel who required Rahab the harlot, the foreigner, to live outside their camp, we way too often label the Ruths and Rahabs with some cliché and once the tag has been slapped on someone’s back, we won’t let them ever forget where they came from.
Boaz didn’t do this. In Ruth 2: 8, “Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen my daughter!’” I felt a tear run down my cheek as I thought of all the times my heavenly Father’s compassion has been extended to me and instead of calling me what I deserved to be called, my compassionate Father said to me, “Listen, my daughter, Dorothy.”
God’s compassion is everlasting. It meets us where we are. It doesn’t remind us we are ALL outsiders, and we are! For if it were not for God’s mercy and grace, you and I would be on the outside looking in. What’s more, our Father’s compassion doesn’t just stop with empty words about kindness and love, instead He brings us into His field and invites us to stay there permanently where we can feast daily on His mercies which He promises are “new every morning.”
And just in case, like some of you who have written to me and told me you’ve gotten too far off the path, remember, our Father is the compassionate Dad who doesn’t stand on the porch waiting for us to return home. He’s the Person you’ll see running toward you with outstretched arms screaming, “My girl. My daughter. My child – you’ve come home.” This is what heaven’s compassion is all about. It’s the kind of compassion that was evident in Boaz’s treatment of Ruth. It’s what I call “Harvest-Time Compassion.” It’s not some political or religious label. It’s not some slogan we chant to try to convince people we are holy.
It’s a love that reaches down to the fallen…out to the foreigner…and yes, inside our own gates to our family and friends. It’s compassion that sows the seeds of God’s eternal love!
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
John Andrew Holmer
A Prayer of Compassion
“We live in a restless noisy world.
The crash of waves on a small boat.
The noise of gunfire and the explosion of bombs.
The shouts of the marketplace,
and the wail of a hungry child.
The dumb pleading of the addict’s needle
and the protests of the oppressed.
The frustrated anger of the unemployed
and the scream of the tortured.
The restless noise of machines.
The clamant knocking of the prisoner
and the noisy silence of unforgiveness.
Out of the depths of our noise
we cry in love to You,
O Lord the never ceasing prayer of Your people
with Your people, for Your people,
that the discordant clamor of your world
may be turned into symphonies of peace,
love, joy, and compassion.
May the voice of prayer be never silent…
God is not deafened by our noise,
He opens His ears
and hears when we cry.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.comor email direct2church@Bakerpublishinggroup.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.