“Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” Ruth 3, verses 12-13.
Obligations. Is it just me or does our society today sometimes seem obsessed with finding ways to skirt our obligations? It makes me long for simpler times. Just the other day we talked about how Boaz’ words (in verse 12) showed selflessness. Now he adds to that quality a good dose of showing that he’s willing to fulfill his obligations. Boaz is willing to accept his culture’s guardian-redeemer norm, and he does so in the context of staying between the white lines of his faith walk. He’s not just going through the motions: he’s willingly submitting to traditions that reaffirm his relationship with God as well as his duties to his fellow man.
But notice that fulfilling one’s obligation comes with several catches. One is renewing a vow. “As surely as the LORD lives” isn’t a phrase you turn on a whim. It’s a pretty strong vow, and it’s a phrase you hear in various places throughout the Old Testament when those who invoked it wanted to really make a point of affirming their vows. I’m pretty sure I’ve never said those words in reaffirming my word to people at work, or in my personal words even as I have renewed my vows. Perhaps I should.
Another catch is accepting choices. Boaz demonstrates he’s willing to go along with choices other people make that affect him. He doesn’t whine about it, or try to deflect responsibility. He accepts what is, and replies to Ruth based on that. “I’m falling for you, but you may not be mine to fall for.” It’s a Godly thing, and a kindness to her to deal so honestly with her heart.
Finally, Boaz brings us back to faith. Boaz has faith in this system. He conforms his behavior to the kinsman-redeemer tradition, and lives within the norms of his society. He has faith that these norms are the best way to live in giving God His due. He lives out that faith in what he says and does.
All this to fulfill obligations. Boaz had obligations. So do you and I. Every day I’m reminded of my obligations just by looking at my Outlook calendar. Or my wedding ring. Or family pictures, the clothes I wear, and the list of friends on my Facebook page. These are obligations of the law and obligations of the heart, which means they are the obligations God Himself sets before me. I don’t HAVE TO abide by them. Like Boaz, I get to…just like you.
Lord, thank You for my obligations, choices, and faith.
Read Ruth 3.