May 27

Giving Our Treasures in Worship

freeimages.com - by iron_db  - Cup Water

freeimages.com – by iron_db – Cup Water

Israel was weak.  So weak the Philistines had taken over Bethlehem, the home of David.  David had fled to a cave stronghold just west of Bethlehem.  While in this cave, David longs for the peace, comfort, and blessings of home.  He states he wishes he could drink from the well by the gate of Bethlehem.  

Three of his mighty men take him literally, or at least want to impress David.  They break through the Philistines lines and get David water from the well.  David is floored by this act.  But, he does not drink the water.  Instead he pours the water on the ground in an sacrifice, or libation, unto the Lord.  He believed for him to drink the water, would be comparable to drinking the blood of the men who risked their life for him.  So he uses the water for the most precious thing he could do with the water, he offers it in worship.  He dedicates it to the Lord.¹

David understood that worship involves offering our treasures unto God.  Worship is the highest act we can do with our earthly possessions.  It is the most worthy expression of our love, devotion, and loyalty to God.  In a day and age that neglects worship or wants to make worship about performance and entertainment we must remember that worship is about us offering our treasures to God.

When the plate is passed and we contribute we should offer our best unto the Lord.  This is the greatest use of money, like this water from Bethlehem poured on the ground of the cave, so our common money is offered to the Lord.  It reaches its highest potential!  We have been given time each Lord’s day.  When we choose to offer this time to the Lord, we make the most of it and use it for its highest purpose.  We have been given voices, when we use them to sing praises to God, our voices reach their highest potential.  When we focus our hearts and minds on the sacrifice of Jesus, the message from God’s word, and petitions in prayer our hearts and minds are reaching their highest purpose.

Do we give our treasures?  Do we see our valuable possessions; things like money, time, voices, and hearts as treasures that should be offered to God in worship.  Worship is their highest potential and the most precious act they can do.  Worship is special and holy.  David had no greater purpose for this water than to offer it to God.  For him to drink would have been selfish, but to offer it to God was honoring of the men and God.

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¹  2 Samuel 23:14-17

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/giving-our-treasures-in-worship/

May 26

Career Counseling Advice from My Dad

Dad with my son Austin working on the farm.

Dad with my son Austin working on the farm.

My dad is a farmer!  He loves to work and improve the land.  He has always been a farmer since his young age and built his own business with the help of family.  He has grown soybeans, rice, cotton, milo, wheat, and corn over the years.  His farm is in Southeast Missouri in the rich soil of the Mississippi delta.  I cherish many memories of growing up working and learning on the farm.

Many seniors are graduating this month and looking to their future.  This time of year made me reflect back on some “dad sayings” I used to hear growing up.  These sayings have shaped my life and work, and I wanted to share them with others.

1.  Find a job you love doing, and it won’t seem like work.  I remember this saying the most.  Maybe it was because on most days, dad loved his farm work.  Conversations would sometimes turn to other types of work for dad or possibilities for me.  It would always get back to this philosophy, find something you enjoy doing and it won’t seem like work.  We are so blessed in America that we can choose our work.  Now every job is gong to have its challenges, but choose to do something that you enjoy; a job for which you have a passion and motivation for getting up and going to work.  Dad practiced this mantra.  He loved farming.  Still, I don’t know if we will ever get him to retire.  I can say that I have been blessed to enjoy my work.  I love preaching.  I love working with a church and teaching the Bible regularly.  I enjoy visiting and ministering.  Now there are stressful days, there are weeks, I don’t want to study for a sermon as Sunday draws nigh, but overall I enjoy getting up and going to work.

2.  Go get an education, so you won’t have to do this kind of work.  This one is somewhat contradictory of the first, but I often remember this saying as well.  It always came on a rough day.  It came on 100 degree days in July when I was out spot chopping weeds out of the cotton, or when the combine was broke down and dad was covered in oil and grease doing some mechanical work stressed because the combine wasn’t running.  It was his way of motivating me to apply myself in school and go to college and get an education.  He would tell me to go get an education in something besides farming, because I could still farm if I wanted, but I wouldn’t be forced too.  I still believe in the power and potential of an education.  In our competitive world today, the younger generation must prepare themselves well with an education.  I have earned two Masters degrees in Bible and ministry and they have  richly blessed my life.

3.  Work hard and do a good job.  When I was applying for an internship with missionary Steve DeLoach in Guyana, South America back in 1999.  He said the reason he chose me was because I grew up on a farm and I would know how to work.  Dad is a hard worker and desires things to be done right.  Like so many farmers, he works long hours during the busy season.  I grew up with these values inculcated into my being.  Unlike the other two above, this was not a saying, it was just a way of life.  I spent summers working long hours 6 days a week from early in the morning to late at night.  But I could never outdo my dad when it came to work.  Of course things have flipped a little now, last year he was over watching me dig fence posts, and instead of helping, he enjoyed taking the kids to have some fun!  I still believe hard work is one of the most important ingredients in success in this world in the work force.  In fact, in many ways it seems the quality and quantity of work by workers is declining.  If you want to get ahead on the job, work hard and do a good job and your work will speak for itself.

What advice do you remember from your dad?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/career-counseling-advice-from-my-dad/

May 19

A Helpful Translation Guide of Comments for Young Preachers

from simpleicon.com

from simpleicon.com

I am still a fairly young preacher, but I have been doing this for 17 years now.  So I thought I would pen a somewhat humorous post for other preachers, especially ones new to the calling of preaching.  Maybe other preachers will add their translations into the mix too.  By the way, to those who say these comments I mean no offense.

  • “You are going to make a great preacher someday.”  I used to get this comment a lot.  I don’t anymore, which means I am either looking old, or folks have given up on me improving.  Translation:  You have lots of potential and are doing good for your age.  You are an encouragement to them.
  • “We just don’t hear preaching like that anymore.”  This comment is usually given to the guest preacher in your presence after a special speaking appointment.  Translation:  They like his style, which is probably an older more familiar style to them, better than yours.  They hope you will start quoting more verses like he does!  Don’t let it bother you, see my post on Why the Gospel Meeting Speaker Seems Better.
  • “That is the greatest sermon I have ever heard.”  Translation:  They have forgotten all the other great sermons they have heard, but you still really hit a home run!
  • “You said some interesting things this morning that got me to thinking.”  Translation:  You said some things that they did not agree with or went against a previously held position.  They are sincerely trying to think and study about it.
  • “I would really like to come by and talk to you about some of the things you said.”  Translation:  They don’t agree with what you said, or are offended, or confused by what you said, so they want to talk.  This is a good, because often they just are offended and you never know!
  • “I have never heard a sermon on that before.”  Translation:  They really were blessed from your study of the topic and it seemed very fresh and helpful to them.  They likely have heard a sermon on the topic at some point in the past, maybe even by you, but this one came to them at a time they were interested and needing it.

What others would you add to this list of comments and translations?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/a-helpful-translation-guide-of-comments-for-young-preachers/

May 17

Accurate Appraisal

by McGoo84 from www.sxc.hu

by McGoo84 from www.sxc.hu

A Picasso painting just sold for 179 million dollars.²  This is the highest sell price of any painting.  The painting was painted in 1955.  It features nude courtesans and is in his signature cubist style.  It is not something I would even allow on my house walls but it sold for 179 million.

The Patriots were fined 1 million by the NFL and fans have started a crowdfunding web page offering them donations to pay the fine because they believe in their innocence.³  Currently almost $16,000 has been given to this effort.

These two examples show how people value all kinds of different things.  Our local congregaiton is sending a team to El Salvador and almost $19,000 was given for this effort in one Sunday contribution.  We are collecting clean water filters to take on the trip at $50 a piece and almost 100 have been purchased.

People value things differently.

It reminds me of the gospel story of Mary anointing the body of Jesus before his crucifixion.¹  When she used such a precious and costly ointment on his body, the disciples were indignant.  Judas appraised the value of it at 300 denarii, a year’s worth of work.  Judas was jealous and greedy desiring the money that he could have stolen.  The other disciples were shocked, upset, and appalled at such a waste.

But Jesus approves of Mary’s deed.  He says what she has done is a beautiful thing that will be told whereever the gospel is preached.

Disciples appraised the deed saying it wasn’t worth the cost.

Judas appraised the deed through eyes of greed wishing he had the money.

While Jesus, accurately appraised it as beautiful and worthy because it demonstrated love and honor to Jesus before his death.

The question for us is:  Do we accurately appraise things?

The world has all kinds of standards.  It says a Picasso painting is worth 179 million.  Jesus appraises things far differently.  He doesn’t mind extravagant spending or displays of crazy love, but it must be aimed at the right object and from the right motive.  We must fight selfishness, greed, and materialism.  We must appraise deeds, love, and actions.  Always realizing that many items are worth far more than dollars and cents.  Anointing Jesus for his burial was worth whatever it cost!

True joy, purpose, and happiness is not achieved by attaining what the world values, but rather by properly appraising the things in life that are valuable!

How is your appraisal skills?

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¹  Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-9

²  News Article on Topic

³ Gofundme Page for the Patriots

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/accurate-appraisal/

May 13

How One Church Had Success with a Gospel Meeting

This is a special guest post by my friend Mark Ray.  Mark preaches at the Benton Church of Christ in Benton Kentucky.  He is the author of a book on marriage I am teaching now and recommend for your use.  He also has a web presence at www.markdray.wordpress.com.  He has lots of excellent resources on this site.  I asked him to write this article sharing the Benton church’s recent experience with a successful gospel meeting.

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Decades ago, the Gospel Meeting was a central part of the evangelism plan for many churches. Many local congregations were founded by a gospel meeting and gospel meetings were responsible for dozens of baptisms each year. However, few meetings have this effect in our current culture. Due to the overall business of those in our membership and our community, the typical meeting has been whittled down to less than a week and rarely has visible results in terms of conversions. A few years back we had a gospel meeting that featured a very well known preacher with a good amount of advertisement through radio, newspaper and door knocking. But because it was in the middle of little league and other local events, the meeting was poorly attended. At the time our average Sunday morning attendance was 265. We had 280 on Sunday morning with an average attendance of 140 each night through Wednesday night. The results of the meeting discouraged our speaker and the congregation to the point where we considered not hosting any more gospel meetings. This year, we hosted another Gospel meeting with a changed focus. With an average attendance of 295 on Sunday morning we had 340 on Sunday morning with an average attendance each night of 355. The meeting resulted in several baptisms and with shot of enthusiasm to the local congregation. Here are the four things we did differently.

The first thing we did when planning a gospel meeting was to ask the question, “Why?” Do you have gospel meetings every year regardless of results because you’ve always done them? Are you seeking to have a meeting for the purpose of education (i.e.; first principles, apologetics, finances, marriage enhancement)? We have a summer series of Wednesday night speakers for the purposes of education. We determined that we wanted to have our Gospel meeting focus on evangelism. Therefore we aimed our choice of speaker, our advertising. and methods for that purpose.

The second thing to focus on after you determine your purpose is to choose your speaker. Of course the most important thing about the speaker is that he is biblical and knowledgeable about the topic that he will be discussing. But for a special meeting, there is value in determining the skill and personality of the speaker. As we looked back at the meeting from several years ago that didn’t do so well, we determined that he is among the most skilled scholars and orators among our preachers, but local congregations had used him quite a bit. This made it where many people were not as excited to hear him and attend our meeting. The speaker at our most recent meeting was from many states away and had only been used as an area wide meeting we had hosted the year before in a town located twenty-five minutes away. Also, being a preacher in an African-American congregation, he was much different in personality and presentation than what most of our church was used to hearing. In short, we determined that we would have more success in our meeting if we had a speaker that was unique and interesting in his presentation. Notice, he still was very biblical in his approach, but his style and mannerisms were very different that what we saw here locally. While this man may not be ideal to work as a located preacher here, he was ideal to bring in for a meeting in which we were looking to attract interest. He was a speaker who would generate interest who was very skilled in preaching basic gospel sermons for the purpose of evangelism.

The third, and perhaps most important part, of having a successful gospel meeting is the investment of the local congregation to it’s success. We had over the years developed a go to system of advertising. We would buy time on the local radio station, buy advertising in the newspaper. and then on the Saturday or two before door knock in the neighborhoods around the church building. As far as I know, none of these methods had encouraged many people to attend who would otherwise have not attended. With our newly focused goal being evangelism we recognized the importance of having non-Christians attend the meeting with our own membership encouraging the effort with their attendance as well. Rather than focus on traditional means of advertising, we utilized social media such as Facebook, Twitter and even had a chart placed in the front of the auditorium listing how many people had been personally invited. With Sunday attendance being around 300 each week, we chose a goal of 1500 invitations (three invitations for each of us) and had people anonymously write on a card each week and place into a basket the numbers they had invited. While we missed our goal of 1500 we did invite over 1350. By our members inviting their friends, those who were invited were much more likely to visit and were easier to follow up on after the meeting. We still advertised on the radio and newspaper but the grassroots form of inviting friends was our difference. It encouraged our membership to take ownership of the meeting and make sure that someone would come who was a non-Christian. As the meeting progressed, we recorded the sermons and encouraged our members on Facebook to share the video lessons (we use livestream.com and youtube.com for a nominal price). As the meeting progressed, the discussion of the lessons on social media encouraged our attendance even more. It’s been said many times that Gospel meetings will work if you will work your Gospel meeting.

The fourth part of having a successful meeting is preparation of specific candidates for evangelism and following up with them afterwards. Our community does not, as a rule, respond to the invitation at the end of a sermon. Therefore, we did not have many baptisms during the meeting itself. However, as we visited and discussed with potential candidates for conversion in the days following the meeting, our studies resulted in multiple baptisms with other studies continuing even today several weeks after the meeting. In other words, our gospel meeting was not the only tool used at this time for evangelism, but it was one of many tools used together to accomplish our purpose.

Gospel meetings have many different designs and purposes. One of the reasons why ours worked better this year is we focused in on our purpose, we found a speaker who generated interest and we encouraged every member to take part in bringing the gospel to the community. These methods are necessary in almost every form of evangelism. It is our role to use our imaginations to find good, fresh ways to reach out to this lost and dying world and to teach them the gospel.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/how-one-church-had-success-with-a-gospel-meeting/

May 12

A Plea to Big City Churches from Country Churches

Picture by fakhar at free images.com

Picture by fakhar at free images.com

It is graduation time again, which means for lots of rural churches their home-grown kids will be gone soon.  Most will not return except for visits.  They go off to school, fall in love, and settle down in large cities where jobs are located.

This is the case for most of the kids I grew up with at my rural home congregation and it is the case now for the congregation I serve in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Our hope is always that our young people will be faithful to the Lord and His church wherever they live.  Most will attend school and settle down in larger cities.

Here is my plea, and I know I speak for so many churches and parents in rural congregations, to the big city churches they will attend.

  • Welcome them into your church family.  It takes a lot of courage to attend a new congregation by yourself especially.  Greet them with a smile, a handshake, and learn about them.  Invite them into your home, help them connect with other Christians their own age, and genuinely be their family when they are away.
  • Hold them accountable.  Get their name and number.  Look for them each service and encourage them to be a part of Bible class, a small group, or the university student center.
  • Be faithful to the Word of God.  Rural churches have a great concern for the doctrine and faith of city churches.  Not only because we love our brethren and the Lord’s church, but because our young people will often be members of city churches.  Our plea is that you will be strong in the Lord.  Preach the truth and seek to practice New Testament Christianity.
  • Don’t be derogatory of their home congregation.  Each church has their own atmosphere and unique way of doing things, and this is certainly the case when thinking of larger, city churches, and smaller, rural churches.  Young people often are impressed with the size and all of the activities.  It can be easy for them to become negative upon their home church and how their new congregation does it “so much better.”  Rural congregations can certainly learn, but let me ask you to be respectful and not derogatory when talking about their home church.  Avoid labelling them and encourage them to be grateful for their home congregations.
  • Use their talents and abilities.  We desire that you put our young people to work.  From college age on through the young professional years, find ways to keep them active in the service of the Lord.  We have tried to put within them a desire to serve, so use it.  Rural church leaders often lament the drain of talent and abilities by young people leaving to go to the city for jobs and life, while local churches may suffer some because of this, the Lord’s universal kingdom should not.  Find and use their talents, don’t let them be pew potatoes!
  • Be grateful for their training.  When your congregation is blessed by new students or a new couple remember the services they offer came from somewhere else.  You are drinking out of wells you did not dig.  Be grateful for the Lord’s body.
  • Treat our kids, the same way you would want your own kids treated.  Finally, I would suggest for each member to look at these new church attendees, who come from rural areas, as if they were their children.  Look at them with the eyes of a dad or mom who has sent their child away.  Be their family and encourage them in the faith.

This is my prayer and plea.

What would you add this plea?  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/a-plea-to-big-city-churches-from-country-churches/

May 08

The Older I Get . . .

I am truly in the “middle-age” years.  I finally am starting to adjust to at least thinking of myself as older.  I think you always tend to view yourself younger than you are, but after four kids I think I actually feel like I am a real dad now.

Here are some random thoughts on my mind as I mature.  By the way, I will be 39 on June 15th.

The older I get . . .

  • The faster time goes.  I heard this all my life from older folks, but I believe it is so true.  Christmas used to seem to take a whole year to come just in December, when I was a kid, but now it seems to come around so quickly.
  • The more rhythm to life I feel and see.  I am learning to appreciate the seasons, holidays, annual events, and the overall rhythm of life more.
  • The more I value patience and endurance in life and ministry.  I believe so many things take years of patience and effort to accomplish.  Evangelism, church growth, relationships, parenting, and transforming a farm all are done over years not days.
  • The more I realize I have to work the “to do list”  as I am able, not allowing all the mountain of things needing done to add too much stress and ruin the joy of the present.
  • The more I appreciate my parents and in-laws and what they did in raising my wife and me.  Their training and values shape our decisions and practices very much today.
  • The more I appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy being out in it.  It is so refreshing and uplifting when the weather is beautiful.
  • The more I love my wife and see the value of working on developing closeness and emotional intimacy in marriage.
  • The more I believe that if you are willing to work hard, be honest, and have a kind personality you can be successful.
  • The more I appreciate the church and love its people.
  • The less news I watch, and I have realized that sports can happen without me watching them.
  • The more I value health and understand how fragile it is.
  • The more I fear about the world of my grandchildren.
  • The more I see the wisdom in the inventive and natural ways of past generations, while also being excited about all the possibilities that new technologies are opening for us.

These are just some random things that I am thinking as I get older.

What are some of your thoughts as you get older? 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-older-i-get/

May 05

“The Times I Hate Being a Woman”

Amanda and Brooke trying to Tie Down the Oven

Amanda and Brooke trying to Tie Down the Oven

This has to be the most outlandish title post ever on my blog!  But this quote was from the source of many of my blog posts–my wife Amanda.  We were talking about a particularly upsetting situation, I will say more about later, that prompted this statement.  She said there are two times when she doesn’t like being a woman and they both have to do with men.

Here are the two times when my wife hates being a woman:

1.  When she is in a male dominated environment and the men treat her like she knows nothing.  The story I was referring to earlier involved Amanda going to pick up a new double oven in my truck from a business.  The salesman had said they would load it and take care of it.  She took my truck and headed to get it thinking she would pull up, get the oven, and drive away.  Well, that didn’t happen!  Two men come out, not too pleased to be handling this heavy oven, and put it straight up in the back of the truck.   Amanda suggested that they lay it down in the truck (as we had discussed earlier at home), and they quickly replied with a simple excuse of the cord being in the way, when in reality, it wasn’t.  Amanda begins to get the straps out of the toolbox, assuming they would help her use them since the salesman had been clear that it would be loaded and taken care of, but as she turned around, the men were headed back inside.  She was unfamiliar with using the ratchet straps, so she finds herself frustrated and called me.  The men were not helpful and were condescending to her.  She ended up barely getting out of the parking lot before parking again and spending 40 minutes working on the straps.  By the time I got there she had it strapped down really good, after a stressful ordeal and our Friday night plans being messed up.  This followed on the heels of having to go to a salvage yard twice in the period of a week to get a part for our van.  The man there didn’t even want to talk to her and was once again unhelpful.

2.  When men whistle and yell comments to her treating her like an object, even when she is dressed very modestly.  My wife is a pretty lady, but always wears modest clothing.  She enjoys running.  At times she will run along a busy street, and this will inevitably happen numerous times.  A couple of years back when we were at Polishing the Pulpit we were staying near a road that wasn’t that busy and had a nice sidewalk.  It borders a golf course and is a pretty run.  We both run the path.  Because of kids, we did it separate.  When she got back she told me of how four times she was whistled or yelled at during the run.  She was however not surprised, that I ran and had not one person yell at me, I guess I didn’t get in anyone’s way!  But it is not only when she is running, but going into Wal-mart, men can act inappropriately to a lady.

What is the point of this post?  I think us men need to understand how many women feel about these actions.  Regarding the first, when we are in a male-dominated environment and women come into that situation, we should work to make them feel comfortable and not treat them condescendingly.  Regarding the second, men often feel that women are flattered by their yells and whistles, but it is really offensive to them (I am sure not to all women, but to godly, married women it certainly is.)

When Jesus came to this world, he revolutionized how women should be treated.  His disciples were even amazed that he was talking to a woman (John 4).  Those of us men who follow Christ today, should continue to lead the way in showing the men of the world how to respect, honor, and treat a lady.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-times-i-hate-being-a-woman/

Apr 30

A Plea to Church Cynics

A Haiku Deck Slide

A Haiku Deck Slide

The church has its problems, the main ones are called, “you and I.”

But the church is the beautiful, blood-bought body of Christ on earth.¹  It is the most important work on the earth, because it is focused on saving souls for eternity.

Yet the church is often attacked by cynics who have a negative view of the church.  The church cynic always has a list of problems with the local church and brotherhood at large.

  • The church should sing better.
  • The church is too bound by traditions.
  • The church is dying because of hypocritical attitudes.
  • The church’s preaching is not connecting with people today.
  • The church leaders are poor in vision.

We all know church cynics, and have been them at times!  Most of us preachers turn into church cynics every Sunday night!!  I fear that too many young people of the Millennial generation are church cynics, but also many older people have become bitter church cynics.

Here is my three-part plea to church cynics.

  1. Choose to do something about the problem you are complaining about!  It is easier to see a problem than to fix a problem.  Most church cynics are sitting on the sidelines of the church and complaining.  The cure for cynicism is getting involved and making a difference.  I really like the message of Matthew West’s song “Do Something.” (Here is the video link.)  It is about a man who was complaining about all the problems to God asking him to do something when he heard God say, “I did, I created you.”
  2. Remember the church is God’s body and Christ’s bride, so though it is not perfect in its human form, it is to be valued,  esteemed, and loved.  We can handle personal criticism when we know the person truly loves us.  I think this principle should apply to the church as well.  Church leaders, and maybe even God, take criticism from church cynics much better when they truly love the church.  Love for the church should be demonstrated in action and a clear willingness to put the good of the church above ones’ own good.  The church is not to be treated like a restaurant when you have a bad experience, or a store manager when you got poor customer service.  We don’t just take our business elsewhere.  The church is your family!  The church is God’s sacred body that has such great value that Christ died on the cross to purchase it!  Cynics need to fall in love again with the church. Paul got pretty frustrated at the failures of many of the congregations he established, but he always had an incredibly high view and love of the church!
  3. Look for the good that is being done, while trying to understand the reasons for the present church system and actions.  My last plea for church cynics is to look at the good being done in the local church.  See the impact being made upon the hurting, the love between brethren, and the teaching of the Word of God.  Often times church cynics get upset about a church system in place.  Why are the announcements before the worship (I much prefer them afterwards.)   Why do we announce song numbers, when all the songs are on the screen?  Why do the elders not share this decision with the church sooner, they must be hiding something?  Why doesn’t the church help the needy?  These questions all involve the church system and the local environment.  The cynic needs to try and understand why things are done the way they are done.  Often there is a valid or good reason.  It is only through understanding, that the cynic can appropriately complain and seek change.

I guess all of us can be church cynics from time-to-time, but this three-part plea helps me and I pray it helps others when they are cynical of the church.

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¹  Acts 20:28′ Ephesians 1:20-21; 5:22-33

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Apr 28

Helping Family is More Important than Money

family = love by greenbay at www.freeimages.com

family = love by greenbay at www.freeimages.com

The story of Boaz and Ruth tells about two worthy individuals who were dedicated to the Lord, the traditions and law of Israel, and their family.  In ancient Israel family loyalty and dedication to family was highly esteemed.  Many today tend to see Ruth as a love story, but it really is more about two people valuing God and family over personal interests.  

Ruth valued her mother-in-law above her self-interest leaving her homeland to go to Israel.  She pledges her love, faith, and loyalty to Naomi.  Boaz, her kinsman redeemer and future husband, is a wealthy landowner who values the kindness and devotion of Ruth to his relative Naomi.

Boaz is willing to risk his personal fortune and inheritance to redeem Ruth.  In redeeming Ruth he will purchase the land back from indebtedness for the family.  He will have the responsibility of raising up an heir with Ruth in the name of Ruth’s dead husband (this may all seem complicated if you are not familiar with the law of levirate found in Deut. 25:5-10).  What is significant is that he is involving himself in a financial situation in which he is losing money.  He takes in a wife, raises a child, redeems land, and it all goes to the deceased family member’s name and honor.  The land will one day leave Boaz and go to the heir.  A nearer kinsman refuses to redeem the land when he finds out that it will impair his future inheritance (4:6)

A salient point that comes through this story is that family is more important than money.  Families take care of one another and are loyal to each other.  Boaz and Ruth are willing to sacrifice personal pursuits, fortunes, and future inheritances in order to love, honor, and protect the family.  Our current culture often fails with this point.  Family allegiance is often low and people can be just plain selfish.  I am not suggesting that families should be foolish or enable a wasteful or lazy family member by constantly throwing money to him.  But I am saying we need to value family and be loyal to family above money and other self-interests.

Sadly, many families have found themselves fighting at the funeral over money, rather than comforting one another and honoring the deceased family member.  Let’s remember that supporting, helping, and even sacrificing to help family members in need is what God expects from us (1 Tim. 5:8).

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