Page 134 was a great day spent with my church family in the morning and my “family” family the rest of the day. Our Bible School class finished up the book of 2 Thessalonians as we looked at Paul’s instructions to not only stay faithful until the return of Christ, but to keep working. Not only did he instruct the Christians to pay attention to their personal conduct, he commanded them to warn their fellow believers who were disruptive, lazy, and/or unwilling to work. In the church body here on earth, there is a job for everyone even though not every job is for everyone. It made me think of my daughter who puts the communion cups in the trays and inserts the prayer guide into the bulletin each week. Yes, she has vast limitations and a long list could be created of things she can’t do, but that doesn’t keep her from doing the things she can do.
After the Bible study class, our morning worship gathering included a message by David from the book of Ruth. While the written story of Ruth is not long — contained in the four chapters of the Bible book which bears her name — the result of the story impacts the life of every follower of God since. As the great-grandmother of David, king of Israel, she is one of the women listed in the genealogy of Jesus recorded by Matthew. Her life, her pursuit of God, and her obedience to Him continues to bear fruit to this day. The sermon looked at three character qualities that were a part of who Ruth was, that we would do well to adopt as a part of who we are as we seek to live a life that bears much fruit.
- Persistent in Friendship: When given the opportunity to leave her mother-in-law, Ruth clung to her and persisted in staying by her side through whatever would come their way. Naomi was bitter, discouraged, perhaps even depressed — not qualities that make it easy for anyone to stay by her side. Yet Ruth followed through with her commitment to not only stay by Naomi’s side, but to not let the circumstances they each faced become contagious. In a society were everything, including relationships, seems to be disposable, we would do well to persist in the friendships that God has brought us into.
- Diligent in Service: Not only was there a persistence in the friendship, but Ruth was diligent in serving the needs of Naomi as best she could. While many would say that Ruth’s need to work in the manner she did was the result of the lack of a “safety net” for people like her and Naomi, I believe an understanding of God’s law shows that what she did was an example of the “safety net” in action. No, there wasn’t a program set up where they could simply be given their food for the day, but God had commanded that those who needed food would be allowed to gather whatever grain was left behind after the initial harvesting of a field. It made me think of the verse we looked at in Sunday School that says, “Anyone who is unwilling to work, shall not eat.” Yes, God’s “safety net” required work by those needing help, but Ruth was diligent in the work required so that the needs that she and Naomi had were met. In a society where we expect so much to be provided, we would do well to work with our hands and be diligent in service as we meet our own needs and the needs of others through the provision that comes from God.
- Humble in Attitude: Bad attitudes are easy to come by and can be highly contagious. Humility is one of the few things that can overcome a bad attitude and even prevent the onset of one. As you read the book of Ruth, you find that Ruth has chosen to follow a woman that has developed a bad attitude as the result of hard times. Yet in the face of Naomi’s discouragement and bitterness, Ruth chooses to humbly submit to the teachings and instructions of Naomi about the culture they now live in. While it is likely Ruth had little idea of what she would face when she followed Naomi back to Israel, instead of quitting and running back home, she faced each day with an attitude of humility. It was her attitude and her character which got her noticed in a good way — a way so good that it not only landed her a redeemer for the situation she and Naomi faced, but it landed us a Redeemer from the bondage of sin that we face. In a society that is filled with the loud shouts of pride, we would do well to take on a deliberate attitude of humility as we submit to one another.
After the church service, I went to lunch with my family and then we made our way to the farm to visit my mom and dad. It was good to see mom doing so well after last weekend’s hospital stay which resulted in getting a pacemaker put in. My sister and one of my brothers and their families stopped by while we were there and it was good to see them as well. After our visit, we made a quick stop at Potato Creek to take a walk, which almost always includes a few photos. Today’s photo seemed like the perfect one to include on the Mother’s Day page as the mother goose took her young out for a swim. It had been a good, but long day.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- It is possible to care about a person and still have expectations of effort from them. In fact, if we don’t expect effort, we may not care as much as we think.
- We’re not all called to do the same work, but we are all called to do the “work created in advance for us to do.”
- Bearing fruit is a natural part of what a Christian does — or at least it should be.
- Some people are easy to love — some not so much. Our responsibility isn’t to make them more lovable, but to be persistent in our friendship.
- Serving others can often be more work than we think we signed up for. Our responsibility is to be diligent in service anyway.
- Submission is often viewed as a “dirty word” in our society. Our responsibility is to live with humility that practices the act of submitting to one another.
- Family time is valuable. If you don’t make time for family now, one day you won’t be able to.