What kind of risks are you willing to take for Jesus?
In the book of Ruth, Naomi hatches a plan to see her widowed daughter Ruth get a husband who can give her children. She tells Ruth to spruce herself up and present herself to Boaz, a relative quite a bit older than Ruth, who could, as a “kinsman redeemer,” marry her. Ruth had been working as a field hand for Boaz, and he’d shown great kindness to her, but shown no interest in marrying this young foreign widow.
Naomi tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor on the east side of town at night, where Boaz would be sleeping next to and guarding his pile of grain, uncover his feet, lie down next to him, and wait for him to tell her what to do.
These were days when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It was risky for a young woman to cross town alone at night. It was a huge risk to lie down next to an older man in the dark. Would he take advantage of her? But Ruth makes her way to the threshing floor, and in the darkness manages to locate Boaz asleep by his grain. She gently lifts his garment back exposing his feet, then lies down.
In the middle of the night, something startles Boaz, he turns over and – there’s a woman at his feet! In the darkness he can’t see who it is so he cries out “Who are you?”
“And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’” (Ruth 3:9)
“Spread your wings over your servant” meant “spread the edge of your garment over me,” which was a commitment of marriage, like giving an engagement ring. Ruth didn’t wait for Boaz to tell her what to do as Noami had advised, but blurted out a marriage proposal!
This was another huge risk on Ruth’s part. Iain Duguid says it was completely countercultural for a woman to propose to a man, or a young person to an older person or a field hand to the field owner. Naomi had told her to be silent, but Ruth blurts out a marriage proposal. How he will respond? Will he reject her? Will he say ‘how dare you ask me to marry you’ and send her weeping into the night? Ruth takes a huge risk here.
What are we willing to risk for Jesus?
I talked with a young man recently who is planning to move his family, along with several other families in his church to India to live among Muslims until they either plant 15,000 house churches, or until he dies. Talk about taking a risk for Jesus. I get nervous just thinking about bringing Jesus up with a non-Christian friend.
Jesus risked it all for us – not only did he risk it all, he gave it all. He left heaven’s glory, became a man, was scorned, scourged, nailed to a cross, judged and punished by God to save us. He gave it all. We should be willing to take risks for him.
We should be willing to step out and ask if we can pray for someone or tell them about Jesus. To lovingly confront someone persisting in some sin. To share our struggles with fellow believers. To give to God’s kingdom, like the widow who gave her last two cents in the temple as Jesus watched. Jesus said that out of her poverty she “put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).
This week let’s think about where we can take risks for Jesus. Ask for boldness. Most of us can’t move to India, but we can all begin to take small risks for Jesus.
Mark Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.