Sermon in a nutshell: Shouldn’t I Seek Security for You? (Ruth 3:1-6)
God wants us to enjoy a blessed life. To maintain our blessings or to restore our lost blessings, we have to (1) come back to God with humble confession and trust, (2) examine what we still have, (3) value the things and people that we still have, (4) start a small act of kindness with the things and people we still have, (5) bless others first, and (6) sacrifice our own interests and comforts.
We have reflected upon (1) through (5) during the last five weeks and now we will reflect on (6) this Sunday. To enjoy a blessed life, we have to sacrifice our own interests and comforts. We have to put the interest of God first and of others second. As is well known, JOY means Jesus first, Others second, and You last.
In the Bible passage for today, we can see this happening. For a young woman like Ruth, love is one of the most valuable things in her life. She wanted to find her true love and to make her own home with the one she loved. However, she listened to the advice of her mother-in-law (v. 5), Naomi, and did what she asked her to do (v. 6). Ruth sacrificed her love to serve her mother-in-law, Naomi.
However, Naomi also sacrificed her love for her son. In ancient times, a woman had to live alone after her husband died. Because a woman was thought to belong to her husband (whether he was alive or dead) she could not remarry when the husband passed away. In some societies, people buried the living wives and concubines with the dead man to preserve the “purity” of the women!!! (Can you believe that?) In societies where people did not do this, women were required to live alone until they died. In Naomi’s society, the mothers-in-law kept watch to see whether the daughters-in-law kept their vows and purity. When we understand this context, we can understand that Naomi also made a sacrifice. She had to give up the pride of and love for her son to suggest what she did to Ruth!
So, Naomi put the well being of Ruth first. When Naomi said the following to Naomi, she was actually serious and was sacrificing her pride: “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
When Ruth heard these instructions, she did not object to them. She said, “I will do whatever you say.” The Bible makes clear that it has nothing to do with Ruth’s own desires when it records, “So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.”
That was also what Jesus did on the Cross. Jesus died to save you and me. Jesus followed the will of God. Jesus could do that because he listened to the voice of The Holy Spirit! We can sacrifice our own interests and serve God and others when we listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament stories, it is not obvious and not mentioned clearly. However, wherever we see obedient actions in the Bible, we know they are possible because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate Pentecost today because the Holy Spirit is the one who actually guides us to do God’s will and to secure our blessings.
We also celebrate this special time of our graduates. I encourage all the graduates to listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit throughout their lives. Then they can follow God’s direction and achieve great things in their lives. They can also enjoy blessed lives. Ruth is actually taking a graduation exam in a sense. She can graduate from this status of a foreigner-widow. When she listens to her mother-in-law, she will sacrifice her own love and achieve God’s plan.
Graduates, be the followers of the Holy Spirit and achievers of God’s will in the world! Brothers and sisters! Let us sacrifice our own interests and ideas to build a community of love where God’s Will will be done. We will continue to discuss how it works out in detail next Sunday. (To be continued)
- What do you feel that you need to sacrifice to fulfill God’s will in your life?
- When did you find out that your sacrifices were actually used in achieving God’s will?