Several weeks ago, we spent some time looking ‘inside us’ to realize that the real problem with relationships is that they involve sin filled people. And since that time, we’ve been looking at the six reasons relationships are hard. The first reason relationships are hard is because of ‘self-centeredness,’ and we learned that the only way to overcome self-centeredness is to become Christ-centered. The second reason relationships are hard is because of the attitude of ‘self-superiority’ which is often manifested by an individual manipulating another to get what he/she wants. We learned that God wants to transform our thinking to be more like Christ—who put the needs of others first.
This morning, we are looking at the third reason relationships are hard—self-sufficiency. Like last week, we want to examine the life of a person from the Old Testament. Today, we will study about the Book of Ruth. In order to get the ‘big picture’ summary from the Book of Ruth, I want to invite you to watch this short video illustration.
Here in the story of Ruth, we find a faithful woman and generous man who God—in His sovereignty—brought together for His purposes. But this story would have ended very differently if Ruth had displayed an attitude of self-sufficiency. Imagine what her life would have been like if she had told Boaz, “Thank you, but I don’t need your help!” Or what if Boaz saw what Ruth was doing in his fields and said, “Get off my property and quit stealing my crops!”
What is illustrated here in the Book of Ruth is the truth that we need each other.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this subject dozens of times in his New Testament letters. Over and over again, Paul reminds us to be aware of one another’s needs. He says to:
- Love one another,
- Outdo one another in showing honor,
- Live in harmony with one another,
- Do not pass judgment on one another,
- Welcome one another,
- Instruct one another,
- Be considerate of one another,
- Care for one another,
- Don’t compare yourselves with one another,
- Comfort one another,
- Agree with one another,
- And live in peace with one another.
And this only covers what he wrote to the churches in Rome and Corinth!
This morning, in addition to examining the story of Ruth and Boaz, I want us to hear what the Apostle Peter wrote to the churches of the dispersion.
1 Peter 4:8-10.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
Four Simple Steps to Overcoming Self-Sufficiency
Step 1: Be Willing to Receive Help When It’s Offered
What is keeping us from accepting help from others?
- Too proud to accept charity.
- Afraid that I will be seen as weak or helpless.
- Don’t want to feel I owe anyone anything.
- Feeling that I do not deserve help, or an inability to trust.
Whatever your excuse, I urge you to put it aside and follow the biblical model of inter-dependence.
Step 2: Be Careful to Not Misjudge Others’ Motivations
Possible assumptions from the Book of Ruth:
- When they married, Ruth was approximately 40 years old and Boaz was 80!
- Imagine if Boaz thought that Ruth was a ‘gold digger’—or if Ruth thought of Boaz as a ‘cradle robber.’
Step 3: Be Generous and Kind to Those in Need
Boaz is our model in this!
- He told Ruth to go to no other fields than his and stay close to the young women that worked for him.
- He commanded the men to not touch her and to give her water whenever she needed a drink.
- He told Ruth to eat with his workers—as much as she wanted.
- He instructed his workers to allow her to glean among the unpicked grain just like the others, and even leave some bundles lying on the ground for her to pick up.
The kindness and generosity of Boaz is remarkable.
Step 4: Be Understanding When Others Are Self-Reliant
Do you remember what 1 Peter 4:8 says?
- Love covers a multitude of sins!
When we love like we ought, a person’s quirks and flaws will not bother us.