I was reading a story from my Bible. from the book of Ruth, when I noticed s phrase that pushed me straight to my journal. It said, “Don’t embarrass her.” The story begins with a woman named Naomi who moved with her family to another country, Moab, to escape a famine. They were climate refugees, looking for a better opportunity. They never intended the move to be a permanent reloation; in fact, the story says they went to live “for a while.”
And then, all the men in Naomi’s family died; her husband and both sons. The story went from hope to disaster in two paragraphs. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were alone in a time and place that offered nothing to single women. All Naomi could do to survive was return to her home and hope for some sort of miracle.
Ruth was one of the daughters-in-law, and she accompanied Naomi. The two women fed themselves by gleaning, the practice of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after the harvest. The farmers left the corners of their fields unharvested as an early form of welfare.
A landowner named Boaz noticed Ruth gleaning in his field, learned her story, and told his men, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her.”
Can’t you imagine Boaz’s men yelling across the field, “The boss said to leave some out for her,” pretending to help but being loud enough everyone knew what they were doing.
But Boaz told them, don’t inhibit her, or scold her, or embarrass her, even if she gathered from among the sheaves (the previously harvested wheat). Leave her alone.
When I read that story I wondered how often I embarrass someone when I’m helping them. How often do I make a big deal out of helping because I don’t want bystanders to think I’m like those poor people?
Probably I don’t do it on purpose; more likely I crack too many jokes to show my superiority. It’s easy to embarrass someone while pretending to be clever.
Bob Goff told us “love doesn’t keep track of how many times it helps. Love stops counting offenses, infractions, and the cool stuff it does.” It says in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (NIV)
Love helps people. Love keeps its mouth shut. Love doesn’t embarrass.
Love doesn’t brag to the boss at the end of the day, “We let Ruth gather ten baskets.”
Love doesn’t say “I love you so much I turned your closet light ten times this week.” Love keeps quiet about what it does.
Love doesn’t bellow, “Do you still need money, because I can help.” Love helps quietly.
Love doesn’t keep a balance sheet. Love helps because that’s what love is. Love moves on, forgetting how many times it helped, not expecting a thank-you, and not anticipating a notice or head nod. Love helps because that is what love is. Love does not embarrass.
What a cool story. It starts out in disaster and ends up in grace, because Boaz was generous. Not only with his wheat, but with his acceptance.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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