Spirit and Ruth Don't Get Distracted

This article is based on a talk given on Sunday, 27th June, 2021.

A man was visiting a friend at his office and found him sitting at his desk looking depressed. He asked “What’s wrong with you?” “My wife just hired a new secretary for me.” The man responded “Is she blonde, or brunette?” “Neither,” the depressed friend replied. “He’s bald.”

What distracts you most? The word distract in Latin literally means “drawn apart”. In other words, it means being pulled in opposite directions. Is there something that is trying to pull you in the opposite direction to the direction you feel God is calling you?

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The book of Ruth describes three women: Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. All three of them had husbands who made terrible decisions to leave their hometown and stay there. That decision ended up leaving all three of them poor and widowed.

As a result, Naomi decided to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. Orpah stayed in Moab, where she felt she had a better chance of finding a new husband. Ruth trusted Naomi’s God more, so even though her chances of finding another husband seemed remote, she stuck by Naomi.

She ended up in the field of a rich old man named Boaz, a Godly man who goes above and beyond to bless Ruth and provide for her.

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”
Ruth 2:8-9 (NKJV)

Boaz instructs Ruth to keep focussed on the task and not to get distracted. He is saying to her: “Don’t get distracted by other fields. Stick by the other women in his field. Keep your eyes on the field. Don’t even worry or get distracted about drinking, that’s all sorted. And don’t worry or get distracted by the men.”

Like Ruth, we instinctively know that trusting God is always the right thing to do. But like Ruth, we can easily get distracted.

As Ruth recounts to Naomi what Boaz has said to her, it’s very telling which of the possible distractions he mentioned is going to be the hardest for Ruth.

Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ”
Ruth 2:21 (NKJV)

First of all, notice how the writer calls her Ruth the Moabitess. You probably wouldn’t get away with saying that these days, but I suspect the writer is drawing attention to a racial stereotype. It’s probably a little bit like saying Ruth the secretary. For whatever reason, men seem to be easily distracted by Moabite women!

Israelites were told not to marry Moabite women, but that didn’t stop both of Naomi’s sons from accidentally forgetting that rule. They got distracted. Of course, for Ruth she was doing nothing wrong as far as her own upbringing. It’s not her fault that Moabite women are so beautiful!

It’s one of the oldest problems in the Bible.

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive[a] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.
Genesis 6:1-3 (NKJV)

Did you notice that when Ruth told Naomi that Boaz had said, Ruth said that he had told her to “keep fast by my young men”. This was not what he had said, and Naomi instinctively knew that wasn’t what Boaz had told her to do. He had told her to “abide here fast by my maidens”, not the young men!

And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.” So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law.
Ruth 2:22-23 (NKJV)

Ruth possibly thought that she could flirt with these men and that perhaps one of them would marry her and provide for her. It seemed like a good plan. But what she was failing to realise was that God was already providing for her through Boaz. She would therefore be wise to follow his counsel.

It’s easy for us to do the same in our lives and come up with little plans of how to provide for our basic needs, but as born again believers, God has already promised to provide for us everything we need and more.

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We need to fix our eyes on him, and avoid getting distracted by other things. We might not always be able to figure out what God is doing, but you can be sure it is a whole lot better than your little plan to provide for yourself!

Don’t get distracted. Be stable, and stay blessed.
 

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