Loving the Outsider
Here is William Wilberforce, the great 18th century Christian opponent of slavery on our obligation to love our neighbor:
"It is the true duty of every man to promote the happiness of his fellow creatures (his neighbors) to the utmost of his power."
And as promised, here is this week's study guide for personal use and discussion in our small groups.
Daniel Block, Judges & Ruth, 1999.
Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of Ruth, 2005.
Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules, 2008.
Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 2014.
Head: Understanding the Bible
1) Read Ruth 2. Why is Ruth going out alone to glean in the fields? Where is Naomi? What risks are involved for a single woman going out alone in the ‘days of the judges’?
2) What do we know about Boaz before he does anything? What words are used to describe him?
3) We learn about gleaning and God’s law form the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Read Lev. 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:19-22. What is the motivation to allow the poor and needy to glean?
4) List everything Boaz does for Ruth. Is it more or less than the law of God demands?
5) Boaz care for Ruth the Moabite culminates with an invitation to eat with the men. Who serves this meal? How does a meal signify bring an outsider into the community?
Heart: Using the Gospel on Our Affections
“One of the really wonderful things about the demonstration of Jesus’s love is the way he addresses individuals where they are, without some mere one-size-fits-all formula. A rich young ruler whose money is his god is told he must sell all he has and give the proceeds to the poor. But that is not what Jesus tells a Samaritan woman he meets at a well. He tells her to fetch her husband, and of course she cannot do it, for she has burned through five husbands and is currently living with another man who is not her husband: she must address the barrier of her broken relationships. The Gentile leader with a child whose life is threatened, the broken woman who washes Jesus’s feet, the apostle who publicly disowns Jesus—in every case the Master’s love is not only profound but pointed and shaped to address personal needs most accurately.” D.A. Carson, The God Who is There
6) What is it like to be on the outside looking in? What causes you to feel like you don’t belong or aren’t welcome? With friends? Family? Church? Job?
7) What makes us outsiders in relationship with God, our Creator and Provider, outside of Christ? What does that feel like?
8) How does God communicate His gracious and generous welcome for outsiders like us in the gospel? Is there a meal involved? How is His love and care specifically tailored for us individually?
Hands: Applying the Gospel to Our Lives
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
9) God through Jesus’ kindness and care for us, the outsider, has brought us into God’s family! What would it look like to apply our identity as God’s own dear child, living under His protection, when we enter into situations where we feel like we are outsiders?
10) How can we aim our lives to welcome and care for outsiders? At home? At church? What “Moabites” are around you? Is there a need to repent for a hard heart and closed hand towards outsiders?