Title: Ruth: Final chapter - opportunity and fulfillment.
Our stage opens at the city gate where legal transactions were concluded.
Rut 4:1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, "Turn aside, friend, sit down here." And he turned aside and sat down.
RUT 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down.
RUT 4:3 Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
The closer relative is going to have the opportunity of a lifetime and he is going to reject it. Boaz is going to seize the opportunity to be exceedingly gracious just as he has done many times before.
We concluded in our study that to be exceedingly gracious, one must have the courage to know that they will always be provided for. Fear of loss cannot exist in the soul of the gracious giver.
We documented God’s promises of providence in the NT.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.
We live and exist in an unshakeable kingdom.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
Exceeding generosity and graciousness demands courage. It demands a soul that is not afraid.
There has to be a real reason why fear would not live in a man’s soul. A person cannot convince himself of courage and remove his fear if there isn’t an overwhelming reason for doing so.
There are examples of this throughout the history of war, in which men in battle were able to lay aside their fear. The best examples are not from men who lusted for wealth and power through conquest, like Alexander of Macedon for example, whom you know as Alexander the Great. He wasn’t so great.
The best examples of truly courageous soldiers in war are from citizen soldiers, men who were ordinary citizens of a free country who become convinced that an evil power needs to be eradicated. Such men become lethal armies, and unlike mercenaries who are lifelong warriors and killers, go home to their lives and never fight or kill again. Such were the American military of WWII as well as the men fighting our Civil War. Where do they find their courage? They believe they are morally superior and that their cause is just. Every one of them has a level of fear, but they know that the job has to be done.
Let’s take an example from a great military general that hardly anyone knows, Epaminondas.
Epaminondas was a Theban general who did the unthinkable in 370 BC. He invaded Sparta and defeated a people that were thought to be invincible. The Spartans always bragged that their soldiers only died on foreign soil.
His men were not mercenaries or professional soldiers. They were farmers and were outnumbered, but they believed in an ideal. They believed that Spartans were tyrants who suppressed their neighbors in slavery, and to a certain extent they were correct. They also believed themselves, Thebans, and their newly established republican democracy to be superior morally, and in this they were also correct. Epaminondas, a great general, leader, and statesmen, also fed them a fair bit of propaganda, saying that if the Spartans defeated them that they were going to kill every man, enslave every woman and child, and completely destroy all of their farms and homes. This was probably not true, but it fueled the courage and savagery of a small band of citizen soldiers.
Christian courage is the result of the superiority of the way, truth, and life of Christ. They are surrounded by hundreds of promises.
The obvious should not have to be stated that the promises and superiority of Christ needs to be believed. It should be a reality that all Christians believe it. If the way of Christ were to cost us our lives in martyrdom then we would have to lay it down because the way is superior to all others to an infinite degree. However, martyrdom is a rare calling, performing in the most gracious and generous way is a universal calling. We must all be filled with courage for the right reason.
Therefore, the reality for the Christian is far greater and more real than a soldier. A fighting man may lay aside his fear because he believes propaganda that is fed to him, even though it is false. Christ is not propaganda, neither are His cross or resurrection. What we are in Him and what power and wisdom we have is all very real. Due to the reality of Christ fear will be removed from our hearts and the courage to lay down our lives for one another will thrive within us.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
As we will see in our next major lesson from the Book of Ruth, don’t miss the opportunities to be the most gracious.
Php 3:8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ
LUK 14:25 Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
LUK 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
LUK 14:27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
LUK 14:28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?
LUK 14:29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
LUK 14:30 saying,' This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
LUK 14:31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
LUK 14:32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.
LUK 14:33 "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Jesus is not telling us to give everything away, although in some rare cases that may be necessary, as it was for the rich man in the gospels.
Christ is telling us to be willing to give anything when called upon by the Father.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If anything, or anyone is as important in our hearts as the Lord or His kingdom then discipleship is not for us. And at the same time, all of us are called to be a disciple.
The Lord isn’t going to ask you to become a monk or to give away someone who is dear to you. He will ask you to be a cheerful giver of all that He requires, and the reward to you will be one hundred-fold.
LUK 14:34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
Salt was always impure in the ancient world. The pure sodium chloride is very soluble in water while the impurities were not. If your storage of salt got wet, the sodium would dissolve and wash away leaving behind only the impurity. It was only fit to be thrown out.
Salt was prized and valuable at the time. It’s value literally washed away and became worthless. Every person is valuable due to the potential they have to be saved and transformed. Every man has the opportunity to become extremely valuable as a son of God, but those who exchange the glory of God for the image of man become useless.
LUK 14:35 "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Also, the Lord is not saying that we should have considered the cost before we believed. That would end up being salvation by works. The example given is an analogy.
Every builder adds up what he needs. Every commander looks at the opponent before the battle. Every believer should be aware of the cost of discipleship in order to build his house upon the rock.