Stewards: Ruth & Rahab- good stewards

By Charlie Osewalt | 15 August 2013

 

Ruth & Rahab

Good Stewards: Ruth and Rahab - redeemers redeemed

Who are our children? Who is our family? Let’s skip over the obvious answer - yes, we have physical, home grown families. And yes, let’s skip over the not so obvious answer - through adoption many people do wonderful things by choosing the hand picked family. But let’s go a little further than these two answers. Let’s go to the edge, the outer edge.

Bob Fletcher died last week. He was 101 and lived in California. During World War II he quit his job as an agriculture inspector for the government and managed farms. These were the kind of farms that were perfectly viable, but nonetheless had been abandoned. Why? Because their Japanese American owners had been sent to internment camps and nobody wanted anything to do with their land. Except Bob. He took on four of these farms.

“Live in our houses, keep all the profits,” the owners told him from behind bars. But Bob lived in an outbuilding and only kept half the profits. Why? Speaking to the press in 2010, he explained that he “did know them a few of them pretty well and never agreed with the evacuation. They were the same as everybody else.”

Bob’s impact was perfectly captured by the daughter of one family member. “He saved us.”

Bob wasn’t doing anything new. Turn back in your Bibles and you will see that both Rahab and Ruth do the exact same thing. They chose to see the outcast as being the same as everybody else.

We are all the same in His eyes. The same.

Rahab rescues her family and marries into Israel’s culture. She has a son, Boaz. Like his mother, he shows kindness to those on the outside. When Boaz first does this, she bows and asks “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me – a foreigner?”

Boaz then retells Ruth her own story of how she left all to help her mother-in-law who was old, alone and without money or hope. Boaz sees the truth of who Ruth is, not the headlines of all she isn’t.

Boaz in turn rescues and redeems Ruth. He chooses to marry this penniless widow, this woman from a different culture and race. Ruth is a stranger in a strange land, the consummate outsider. By marrying Ruth he pays a debt that Ruth cannot pay. Why does he marry her? Simply, Ruth’s character calls to him in a deep and powerful way. I wonder whether her character reminded him of his mother’s? Ruth in turn shows loving compassion for her mother-in-law, Naomi - the other outsider in the story.

He might have more money than her, but to Boaz, Ruth is the rich one. And she is. Ruth is rich with the faithful kindness of a rescuing God. Two rich people who marry and their off-spring make us rich.

From this tender, compassionate marriage comes a son, Obed. He fathered Jesse who fathered King David… whose line leads to the ultimate redeemer, Jesus.

Ruth and Rahab show us what it means to steward well as a family. By his actions, Bob Fletcher was another of their descendants. He rescued the outsiders because he could see that they were just the same as him. They were family. We all are.

Being a good family steward does not mean isolating those within our care from people who are different. It means reaching out, inviting those on the outside, in.

Want to go deeper? You can download the PDF below for more:

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt

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