LESSONS FROM RUTH
CHAPTER 3: REWARDS THROUGH REFINING
“REFINING, RESTING, REWARDING” – THE 3 R’s OF GRACE
INTRODUCTION TO THIS CHAPTER
The book of Ruth is a love story. At its simplest level It is a love story between two people – Ruth and Boaz – which is going to change not only their lives but the lives of the whole nation of Israel. But, on a spiritual level it is a love story between God and His people, between Him and you and me.
In this wonderful chapter we see that those upon whom the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ rests are
- Refined in Him.
- Rested in Him.
- Rewarded by Him.
These are the 3 R’s of Grace.
SO, LIFE LESSONS FROM RUTH CHAPTER 3
- God brings us closer to Him by refining us through times of trouble, trial and testing.
- But God, during these difficult times in our lives, invites us to come in and “rest” in Him.
- God rewards us with His presence, with His blessings, and with His provision and His promise more abundantly than we could ever imagine.
These are good lessons, aren’t they!
THE FIRST LESSON: REFINING
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. 3 Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.” 5 She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.
Oh! VERY romantic! A night, not “on the town” after a day of shopping or in the beautiful countryside, but “down [on] the threshing floor”! That Boaz knows how to show a woman a good time!
But, on a spiritual level this is so important. There is so much that we can learn here.
God loves us so much that He pours His grace upon us – and He wants the very best for us, and He wants us to be the very best that we can be. And part of the process of becoming the best that we can be is to be refined – in the symbolism of Ruth, we need to come “down” to the threshing floor where we shall be winnowed.
At the end of the harvest all the grain would be brought to the rocky threshing floor, where the grains of corn would be beaten out from the stalks with clubs or a press. The good grain would then be separated from the chaff (the inedible skin) by being tossed into the air with a winnowing fork and the wind would blow the chaff away. What was left was pure grain that was then able to be roasted or ground into flour for bread.
We are God’s harvest. But we are not yet perfect. God uses the troubles and trials and tests of this life to refine us. We don’t like them – who would! – they truly feel like a right beating, and like we are pressed down with a heavy weight. But God uses them all to purify us.
James 1: 2 encourages us:
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Now, here is an interesting thought: we tend to consider troubles, trials and testing as something to be avoided – they are not nice! But, threshing is a time of joy – a fulfilment of the harvest, new life. They are, indeed, to be seen as something that we want – something that will bring us joy.
Ruth, in verse 3, prepares herself to meet with Boaz.
We too should come before Him, during a time of testing, in the same way:
- “Wash yourself” – we are called to come and wash ourselves in the water of His Word (Ephesians 5: 26). This means examining ourselves by the Word and allowing it to govern our attitudes, motives and desires. In times of testing the Word of God is a light to our path – giving us hope to persevere. Washing ourselves means seeing ourselves (in the light of the Word) as we truly are and then asking forgiveness and repenting of our many sins.
- “Anoint yourself” – always speaks of the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5: 8 tells us to be filled by the Holy Spirit – we must desire to come before Him full of the Holy Spirit.
- “Put on your best clothes” – speaks of living a righteous life. Revelation 19: 8 tells us this. This should come out of the first two tasks.
The true meaning of worshipping is to give ourselves totally to God.
This is modelled in this passage by Ruth. In order to receive His Grace she came to the point (with her mother-in-law’s advice) to just totally let go and give herself completely into Boaz’s hands – which is seen in her going along to the threshing floor and quietly lying down at his feet.
The spiritual lesson here is that to best receive His Grace, and to best allow Him to refine us through the time of testing, we have to decide to totally let go and put ourselves into His hands – submitting to His will and saying that from this moment on we are just going to simply trust in Him. And, oh, what a release this is. Surrendering to Him is such a sweet and relieving thing to do!
THE SECOND LESSON: RESTING
8 It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” 10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. 12 Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish toredeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.” 14 So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
[NB: v 12 “relative” = “redeemer”]
I am so struck by the fact that Boaz saw the act of Ruth lying at his feet a “kindness”. He was clearly delighted by the trust that she put in him, by the submission that she showed him, and by the clear statement that she wanted to be with him. He therefore called her a “woman of excellence”. She showed that she was seeking after him rather than after his gifts – what he could give her. And he, for his part, invited her to rest at his feet until morning.
In the same way God, I believe, is delighted when we come and rest at His feet – seeking relationship with Him rather than seeking what He can give us.
Have you ever been in a time like this? You are going through a time of testing and all you can do is throw yourself down at the feet of Jesus not knowing what is going to happen next? To us it seems like a huge risk but to the Lord it is the very place where He wants us to be.
It’s here, at the threshing floor, at the place of testing and refining, that we come and acknowledge that maybe we have been a failure as a Christian, as a husband, as a mother.
But, it is here, at the threshing floor, at the place of testing and refining, that we come to a place of blessed rest. God is inviting us to just come and rest in Him now, to sit at His feet, to listen to Him, be refreshed by Him, to sleep and recover in the place of total security and love. As Jesus put it so well:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28)
THE THIRD LESSON: REWARDING
15 Again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. 17 She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”
Boaz rewarded Ruth for her desire to know him and submit to him and trust him. He gave her “six measures of barley” – that’s about 46 litres – enough for nearly a month!
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is so often seen in that He gives us more than we could ever imagine. Spiritual blessing will always come out of putting our trust in Him and resting in Him – and sometimes physical and material blessing comes our way as well.
Have you noticed that hard times produce far more growth in your character than any amount of normal daily living? Have you noticed that when we put our trust in God during the hard times and decide to just rest in His presence that He brings such bounty out of those hard times?
As Paul reminds us:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 28)
AND SO, THE CONCLUSION – KNOW THE TRUTH
- Ruth chapter 3 tells us the TRUTH that He REFINES those whom He loves – He seeks to get rid of all the “dross” in our lives. We have to invest in this ourselves and be willing to go down to His “threshing floor”.
- Ruth chapter 3 tells us the TRUTH that He invites us to come and REST in His presence – to just enjoy spending time in His presence – especially needed during times of trouble, trial and testing in our lives.
- Ruth chapter 3 tells us the TRUTH that He REWARDS us for our faith and trust in Him during times of trouble, trial and testing in our lives. Let us finish with this truth by reading what Paul declares to us in Ephesians 3: 20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION – ON YOUR OWN OR WITH OTHERS
- What struck you most about this session?
- Why not compare the passage here about the “threshing floor” with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 3: 12-15.
- Do “troubles, trials and tests” come from God or does He just use them in order to refine us? Does Hebrews 12: 6 have anything to say on this question?
- In thinking about “resting” we just have to look again at Isaiah 40: 29-31. “hope”, “rest”, “wait” – they are all possibly interchangeable words. But HOW do we rest in the Lord?
- What about “rewarding”? For Ruth this was very much in the present. What about us? What rewards are awaiting us as we wait on the Lord – and are they for the present or for the future?