Got a Bitter Person In Your Life? Try This...
[Naomi] saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
At the end of Ruth chapter 1, Naomi returned to her home town after a decade away and tells her old friends to no longer call her “Naomi” (which means pleasant) but to call her “Mara” (which means bitter) because the Lord’s hand has turned against her.
To this point in the book of Ruth, all of Naomi’s words have (understandably) been full of despair and heartache and hopelessness.
But Ruth has stepped courageously into a new and foreign place in order to bless her mother-in-law. And she met a man named Boaz, who also took his place in the blessing economy. And as Boaz and Ruth each take courageous steps to bless each other, that virtuous cycle spills over and blesses Naomi.
Here, that virtuous cycle of blessing overflows to turn Naomi’s bitterness and sorrow into a heart full of celebration and blessing—these are her first words of hope in this story. She is caught up in the bigger work of image-bearers around her, blessed in order to be a blessing to one another.
When God gave Ruth courage, it was never intended to merely boost her own self-esteem. It was always intended to root her more fully in God and to help her care for other people. The same is true for us.
Similarly, our participation in the virtuous economy of blessing is never intended to stop with us but rather to spill over to bless the people around us.
In no small part thanks to Ruth and Boaz’s part in the virtuous cycle of blessing, Naomi’s name will remain pleasant. Bitterness will not overwhelm or define her. This is in large part due to the gift that she’s been given of people around her who are generously participating in God’s blessing economy and how she’s getting caught up in that virtuous cycle.
All around us are people who have succumbed to bitterness and despair. Of course, some of them have people around them who have attempted to bless them and they’ve rebuffed those attempts.
But for many of those stories, things could have gone a differently if they’d had people around them who were aware of the privilege they had of being image-bearers put here on this earth to bless one another.
Who do you know who is either in a bitter and despairing place or who is on the path there? How might you intentionally include them in your blessing economy today? For the next week?