“I don’t want to mess up what’s mine.”The ‘guardian-redeemer’ was keen to get Elimelek’s property, but once he found out there was added responsibility in the form of Ruth the Moabite and widow, well, that changed things (Ruth 4).
At that time in Israel, there was this thing called Levirate law, which meant that not only was she to be cared for, she was actually to be taken as his wife, and any male child born would inherit the property, keeping alive his dead father’s name.That price was just too high. When it was about some land that could add to his estate, it sounded great. Buying it knowing it would likely be given away was a bad investment. And so, he takes a pass.
You can’t really blame him, can you? He was thinking of his future, and the future of his family. What if Ruth only had one son, and that son was named after Elimelek or Mahlon? The redeemer would lose a significant portion of property and his own name would disappear.And, maybe these men didn’t even deserve to be remembered, since their move to Moab had been cursed. So really, he was being upright and righteous, right?
I wonder what he and the others gathered at the city gate thought of Boaz. Did they see him as noble, or did they pity him his sense of justice? He was wealthy and could have his choice of bride. Why burden himself with a foreigner who would give a child to a man no longer living?I find myself like the nameless ‘redeemer’. I, too, don’t want to mess up what’s mine. I want to guard it carefully, making sure my name, my legacy, is intact. Those who risk it all clearly don’t understand the big picture. I can make it sound righteous and wise, just like him. After all, if I don’t take care of myself, who will?
But, then I think about our Guardian-Redeemer. To redeem something means to purchase it. Our Redeemer purchased us… with His blood. He didn’t worry about securing His legacy, but poured out His life to give us a future. Far more than one foreign widow, He chose to give His life for countless enemies who despised and rejected Him.Our Guardian-Redeemer did not concern Himself with the titles and honor which were rightfully His. Instead, Jesus was jealous for His Father’s glory, His Father’s name, His Father’s legacy. In emptying Himself, He brought glory to His Father by redeeming a lost and broken world.
Therefore, His Father glorified Him, giving Him the name that is above every name, that at that name, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth (Phil 2).
The Bible is filled with reminders that God’s way is not ours. My way is to guard my security and not allow anything to mess it up. But Jesus told us the one who is worried about his own life loses it. The one willing to give up everything, gains it all and more.
What really messes me up is my death grip on the things I think I deserve. It is only when I choose to let go that I am held.In the end, it is the nearer redeemer who loses everything. He isn’t even named in Ruth, and he and his carefully guarded inheritance are never heard from again.
It is God’s delightful irony that the one who is most concerned with his own legacy fades into obscurity, and the one who risks it all on a foreign born widow becomes a part of the greatest genealogy in history (Matt 1:5).
I pray that I will be like Boaz, and be more concerned about the poor and widowed than about what makes sense to me or others. That I will share the Good News of our Guardian-Redeemer.
That with joy and confidence I will be willing to mess up what is mine, knowing that He has called me by name and given me a legacy which will never rust or corrode or be lost.