And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers,“The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” – Ruth 2:4 (ESV)
As we continue through the story of Ruth we are now in the midst of the barley fields ready for the harvest. From his first steps into the story, Boaz recognizes God’s presence among the workers in the field as he greets the reapers with the words “The Lord be with you.” (2:4) Then Boaz follows God’s command to have his reapers leave remnants in the field so people could come behind to glean the leftovers. This was a practice that God required.
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 23:22
Finally, we see in this passage that sharing God’s blessing is not a passive activity. It involves receiving from others, yes, but also stepping out in our work. Ruth builds a solid reputation from the extraordinary kindness she shows Naomi and the hard work of gleaning. The reapers in the field commend her to Boaz. After she receives assurances of Boaz’s protection, Ruth continues to work, not resting in the gifts but using them to bless others.
Do you remember a time that someone blessed you in the work you were doing? It may have been when you received unexpected praise on a paper. Or, when you spent time in the lab working on that research project and someone showed interest in your results. It may have even been when you struggled to put together a presentation and someone went out of their way to help you. Hearing the words “well done” in our lives is life giving.
Similarly, how have you been able to bless others in your work? Within the packed schedule of the academic life, it takes intentionality to acknowledge that others’ needs exist outside of our own. That we are not alone in the work we are doing. That it’s not all about us and our abilities. Taking that time to reach out to another, especially to share with them God’s blessings, can be a drastic change in how we usually work. We may not walk into our departments calling out to everyone that the Lord is present. But we can pray it for those we meet and remember this reality throughout the day.
Finally, what might it look like to leave remnants in our work for others? There are definitely many opportunities for students and colleagues to collaborate or even to pass along a sought after task to another. Simply sharing ideas and resources is another way to provide items for others to glean. Perhaps most importantly, leaving some of our time unscheduled and open for unplanned interaction can provide opportunities for the blessing of gleaning.
In all of this action, whether in the book of Ruth or within our lives, we see God’s hesed – his lovingkindness and mercy – pouring out of his followers. There’s a partnership among laborers of all statuses, as well as between God and his people, as we are blessed to be a blessing.
- Where have you/do you see blessing in living in your vocation?
- Where have you been able to bless the work of others?
Lord, You are indeed present in our work. We ask that you would remind us of your presence and help us to be a blessing to others in all our vocations. Amen.