Ruth 2:15-16 (KJV) And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.

             I want to encourage you this month to show kindness on purpose.  As I was looking for the word “purpose” in the Bible, I came across this verse in Ruth.  It made me stop and think about how kind Boaz was to Ruth.  Then I realized that there is a trail of kindness throughout the book of Ruth.  I am going to take for granted that our readers know the story, but if you do not know the story of Ruth, please take a few moments to read it.  It’s a short book in the Old Testament, but it’s my favorite.  

             I believe Naomi showed kindness to Ruth by accepting her and loving her as a daughter.  But even more important, Naomi taught Ruth about the one true God, probably not just with words, but with the way she lived too.  Eventually, Ruth chose Naomi’s God to be her own.  Naomi didn’t have to be kind to Ruth, but she chose to be kind because she knew she could impact Ruth’s eternity.

             Unfortunately, after Naomi’s husband and sons died, she became bitter and depressed.  She announced to her daughters-in-law that she was returning to Bethlehem, and they needed to return to their parents.  She had nothing to give them.  But Ruth wouldn’t leave Naomi alone.  Now it was her turn to show kindness.  Ruth left everything she knew – her parents, her homeland, even the grave of her husband – to accompany a bitter old woman back to a place she’d never been.  As far as Ruth could see, there would be no reward for her kindness.  She and Naomi would live as impoverished widows.  Can you imagine their journey?  Ruth 1:18 says Naomi left speaking unto Ruth.  Maybe she gave her the silent treatment all the way back to Bethlehem.  Yet Ruth never faltered.  She would be there for Naomi ‘til the end, taking care of her and loving her.  Ruth’s kindness was Christ-like and, I believe, was a result her newfound faith in God.  Though Ruth may have felt like her kindness would have no reward, God made sure that it did.  

             Life in those days was not easy for widows, but God had made provision for them in Lev 19.  Reapers were to leave the dropped grains and the corners of the fields for the poor.  This was how Ruth found herself in the field of Boaz, gleaning behind his reapers.  He did something that surprised Ruth.  He invited her to eat lunch with him.  After lunch, he told his reapers to let Ruth glean anywhere.  Not only that; he also told them to let extra grain fall to the ground for her to gather.  “Let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her.”  Ruth must have brought a lot of food home that day because Naomi exclaimed, “Where hast thou gleaned today?  Blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee.”  When Ruth asked Boaz why he would show favor to her, he replied in Ruth 2:11, “It hath fully been showed to me all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.”  Ruth’s testimony was that she had left all to be with Naomi, even during her darkest moments.  And Ruth was willing to go out to glean in the fields so that Naomi didn’t have to.  Boaz knew this, and he chose to be kind to her because of her kindness to Naomi.  It did not matter where she was from or what her previous religion had been or what her past looked like.  In the end, they were married and became the great-grandparents of King David.  They are part of the lineage of Jesus.  What an honor!

             Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz chose to show kindness on purpose, even when it wasn’t easy.  I believe that God still wants His people to show kindness on purpose.  Who do I need to be kind to today?  What impact can my kindness have on their lives?  It may be that my kindness can open the door for me to witness to a lost soul.  Then I can tell them about the greatest kindness ever shown: Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the whole world, who loved us even when we were unlovable.  As we go about our day, let us choose to be kind on purpose.