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Merry Christmas 2016

December 31, 2016

Each Christmas season Christians everywhere get invigorated and overjoyed at the prospect of celebrating the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ. When we sit back and reflect on His birth and subsequent death on the cross, we realize that there is no greater gift known to mankind. God in His mercy sent His only begotten Son to this earth (as one hundred percent man and one hundred percent God) to die for the sins of this world. Christ willingly experienced a torturous death in the depths of hell as a substitute for our Adamic sin nature, reconciling to Himself those who repent and accept by faith the free gift of salvation. For Christians, the meaning of gift-giving should have a special place in our hearts during this time of year.

Another compelling and powerful description of the true spirit of giving is found in the book of Ruth. It relates a story of how even the smallest of gift-giving gestures can turn into something that has lasting eternal value. 

The Moabite widow, Ruth, was a kind and virtuous women who was dedicated to faithfully serving God. Down through the years she also demonstrated an unwavering loyalty and commitment to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth left her native land of Moab (she was a Gentile) with an uncommon zeal to minister to the needs of Naomi and serve God.

“And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16

After the untimely death of both her husband and two sons, Naomi made a determination to return to her native land and settle back in Bethlehem. Ruth who was widowed and childless herself, decided to go with her mother-in-law on the long journey back.  It was in the town of Bethlehem that Ruth experienced the graciousness of a wonderful and generous gift-giver, named Boaz.

Boaz noticed Ruth as she was gleaning among the sheaves in the field (Bible commentary indicates this was a right of the poor to pick up left-over crops by the reapers as guaranteed by the Law of Moses). After further inquiry, he soon found out that Ruth had a reputation as being a dedicated servant to Naomi, forsaking all that she had for lands unknown. Boaz noticed her kind and generous nature, disciplined work habits, and the trust that she exhibited in the Lord God of Israel.

“The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12)

Boaz was not content for this poor (but righteous) servant of God to simply glean around the edges like most of the poor. He instructed his young men to let other portions of the crop fall among the sheaves so Ruth could gather those as well. He wanted to help her out so that she could reap an extra measure of barley. Boaz wanted his men to purposefully (handfuls of purpose) let fall to the ground an additional portion of the crop.

“And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose, for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” (Ruth 2:16)

What a wonderful depiction of a generous gift-giver. Boaz was someone who noticed the needs of another servant of the Lord, and took action. When is the last time that you went the extra mile to give someone “handfuls of purpose?” When is the last time that you moved beyond the common and traditional forms of gift-giving, to something so special that it can’t go unnoticed or unrecognized? What will you do in 2017 that will indicate that you understand the power and the value of purposeful gift-giving?

Well, for all of you romantics out there, I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself, “Wait a minute, I thought that Boaz ended up marrying Ruth, right?” You’re also thinking, “Isn’t that the ultimate gift in this narrative from the book of Ruth?” Okay, you got me! You are correct. In the end Boaz does decide to do the right thing and redeems the inheritance of Naomi, while ultimately taking Ruth as his wife.  

However, that is not the end of this wonderful and amazing story. What started out as bestowing a simple gift of additional reaping for Ruth, was used by God in unimaginable ways with untold blessings in the spiritual realm. What started out as a small gift morphed into a redemption of the field and a marriage union that symbolizes Christ’s work on the Cross of Calvary and love for His church. It also symbolizes the reconciliation of both Jew (Boaz) and Gentile (Ruth) as the marriage union became part of the line of descendants to Kind David, through whom came Jesus Christ.     

“And the women her neighbors gave it a name saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4:17)

In conclusion, gift-giving starts with noticing the needs of others while demonstrating selfless and authentic acts of kindness with no expectations in return.  We do so as the spirit of God consumes our hearts, minds, and souls. God may decide to multiply your gift-giving in ways not comprehensible by the human mind. Please be generous in your gift-giving to others at this time of year. Small gestures can be used in miraculous and eternal ways! Merry Christmas to all and have a wonderful gift-giving season! Praise God!



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