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  • Writer's pictureKristina Trott

Ruth was a stranger and you took her in

If you have ever worked in a foreign country, you will appreciate how wonderful it is when the people of that country greet you warmly. I have spent long periods in Thailand and in Iran and in both countries I was made to feel extremely welcome, as if I was a part of the family.

God actually commanded His people Israel to be welcoming to the stranger, but there are very many stories throughout the Old Testament where they were anything but. The Book of Ruth occurred about a time when there were some very dishonourable cases of cruelty to strangers and foreigners so it is surprising that she, a hated Moabite, was received kindly by a man of some standing in the community.

Boaz stands out in a period of “every man doing what was right in His own eyes” (Judg. 21:25). His conversation and demeanour was one of deep reverence for God. It isn’t a coincidence that, as a close relative of Elimelech, Ruth’s late father in law, he is termed a “guardian redeemer” (Ruth 2:20). (Under the Law of Moses a guardian redeemer could sire children with a childless widow so that the inheritance of the deceased husband could be preserved).

In the Book of Ruth we read how Ruth went out to gather the leftover grain after the paid workers had harvested. Boaz instructed his workers to let her gather at will and to even pull out stalks of barley and wheat so that she would have an abundance of food for Naomi, her mother in law, and herself.

His motivation? It wasn’t because she had been kind to Naomi -- it was because Ruth had left her people and her gods to follow the people of Israel and their God (Ruth 2:12).

How does this relate to us?

Firstly, we are called strangers and foreigners before we came to shelter under the protection of Jesus.

Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ (Eph. 2:11-12).

Jesus is our guardian redeemer. He chose to make Himself related to us so He could redeem us.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Phil. 2:6-8).

We hadn’t done anything noteworthy in order for Jesus to be obligated to save us. It was only because of the love and compassion of Jesus that we were saved.

But— When God our Saviour revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:4-5).

We were foreigners to God’s Kingdom. Nothing in the world could make us acceptable to becoming a part of that Kingdom but our Saviour came to earth to make a way for us to enter into that Kingdom. That route meant He had to sacrifice Himself for all the sins and misdeeds that kept us out of that Kingdom. He cleansed us so that we could enter that pure and holy Kingdom without blot or blemish. Talk about hospitality to the foreigner in the highest possible way!

Ruth teaches us that all you have to do to benefit from being in Jesus’ Kingdom is shelter under our Guardian-redeemer’s protection.

All quotations are from the NLT.

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