Who are you? Really. When the make-up comes off, when the hair gel and spray are all washed out, when the designer clothes, the three-inch heels , and the big bold handbag are no longer the first things people see, who are you? I’ve been asking myself that question. Am I real beyond the nice appearance I try to present?
Last night our sweet group of women gathered in the upper room once again to share what we are learning about Ruth, Naomi, and the man in their lives, Boaz. He has made an appearance in chapter 2 as one who showed great kindness to Ruth, allowing her to glean in his fields, providing her with parched corn and water, and offering her protection.
We talked about what caught Boaz’s attention when he saw Ruth gleaning in his fields. Was it her foreign features, her widow’s garb? She was different, no doubt. And she was definitely a Moabite, one of the despised enemies from Israel’s past. Scripture does not mention her physical appearance as the deciding factor in Boaz choosing to show Ruth favor. What he did notice was Ruth’s character traits. Along with being a hard worker, loyal, humble, and diligent, Ruth’s kindness to Naomi was an outstanding attribute that was the talk of Bethlehem. And Boaz took note of it.
The Hebrew word “hesed” is used frequently throughout the book of Ruth, as Kelly Minter tells us in her study guide. It means a “cluster of concepts, all the positive attributes of God –love, mercy, grace, kindness, goodness, benevolence, loyalty, covenant faithfulness . . . ” (The New American Commentary by Daniel Block). It is a very strong word for kindness. It is what Ruth showed to Naomi and what Boaz showed to Ruth.
In our present world when people are noticed for their wealth, education, achievement, and of course, beauty, simple kindness is rated high on the heavenly scale.
As I consider my appearance and putting my best face forward to the world, I cannot forget the Bible’s instructions and advice on what to wear. It tells me to put on compassion, kindness, humility, and patience (Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 5:5). Sounds a bit like hesed to me.
As we delve into session three of our study of Ruth, I am compelled to offer kindness to my fellow travelers. Some things seem to be the order of business for the week ahead: an unexpected offer of help, a word of encouragement, a small surprise, a cup of coffee, a smile or warm hug.
Showing hesed to others is pleasing to God, a way I can bring Him glory. Someone needs to know the hesed of God and of the Christ who offered the most amazing kindness ever by being the bridge between God and man. I’d really like that someone to be me.
As I prepare for this day, putting on Christ and His character will be an extreme make-over. It will take the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to accomplish such a monumental task. I’d like kindness to be what people notice about me. And I very much long to be real.
I’ve got a few things in mind already, ways to show some extra kindness. Will you join me this week? I’d like to hear from you. Is your hesed showing?