November 12, 2010

Pillar of Virtue

Ruth 2

“The name of the man … is Boaz,” [Ruth] said. “The LORD bless him!” Naomi said.
Ruth 2:19-20


One of the pillars of the Israelites’ temple was called the Boaz pillar (1 Kings 7:21). That was fitting. Boaz was a pillar of virtue in the raucous time of the judges. When “everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25), Boaz did as the Lord said.

Gleaning was one of many practices God had set up to provide for the poor. The law of gleaning said that the harvesters could only make one pass through the field. The stalks that they missed were to be left for the poor.

Yes, the owners of the land had earned the fruits of their labor. But since the real owner of the land was God, all of God’s people had a right to the life-giving bounty of God’s land. The landholders were not to scrape every last kernel from the field but to recognize the harvest as an opportunity to fill the needs of their neighbors.

Boaz did that and more. He offered Ruth some of the best pickings of grain and sent her home with a large basketful. He knew that his own fullness derived from the blessing of God.

Today there are many groups that help in similar ways. Food pantries collect items from individuals, churches, and businesses, and they distribute them to the needy. The things we have are God’s produce, and this produce is for all God’s people, including the poor. Such acts are a pillar on which justice and holiness are built.

Thank you, Lord, for your provision. Show us where and how the gleanings of our harvests may be used for people who need it most. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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