The early and the latter rains had already come. The harvests were going on. There was work for every man who was willing. Women and girls kept track of which fields were being harvested so they could follow along after the harvesters and pick up any grain that they missed.
National law provided for the harvesters to work through a field one time only. Any stalks or heads of grain that were dropped or missed were to be left for the poor to glean, free for the taking. The same requirements held for grapes, almonds, olives, and all food crops. The poor were thus provided food, but they had to put in some effort of their own.
Gleaning behind the reapers was an honorable work.
Harvesting less than 100% was an act of generosity, in recognition of God’s bountiful providence.
Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions for gleaning. Each evening Ruth brought home the portions she had been able to gather as she worked with the other poor women of the town. Each evening there was just enough for the two of them.
Then one day Ruth brought in a larger harvest. “How did you get so much?” Naomi questioned.
“I don’t know. It seemed like there was more in the path that I took across the field than where the other women worked. It was strange.”
“In whose fields have you been working?” Naomi asked.
“I’m not sure. But I’ll ask tomorrow.”
But she did not have to ask. The next day the owner came to check on the progress being made on the harvest. His name was on everyone’s lips. The workmen spoke his name respectfully as they pursued the task of being obviously hard at work.
The gleaners looked eagerly in his direction and whispered their wishes that he would notice her and take her as his wife. Ruth listened carefully, but kept her eyes and hands busy on her work.
Boaz, for that was the owner’s name, surveyed the fields, took notice of the harvesters, then turned his attention to the gleaners. With satisfaction he noted that each of the women had a portion of stalks of grain that had been missed by the workmen. He felt proud that he was in a position to help the poor of the village.
Early arrival at the field being harvested that day enabled Ruth to select her portion of the field before the others arrived. She planned her straight walk across the field, noting the terrain and the growth patterns of the crop.
Later in the day the owner arrived to check on the progress of the harvesters.
His attention was drawn to the woman who was apparently ignoring him as she carefully worked ahead of the group. She was younger than the others. And pretty. He admired her steady progress across the field.
He called to one of the paid workmen. “Who is that young woman out ahead of the others?”
“Oh, that’s Ruth, the widow of Mahlon, the daughter of Naomi.”
“I’m impressed with her. Pass the word along for the harvesters to purposely leave more stalks in front of her. Her efforts should be rewarded with more.”
As happens in all circumstances in a small village, Ruth became aware that the owner of the field had singled her out for special treatment. The other women spoke enviously of the quantity of grain she had in her path, and commented of her good fortune at being noticed by Boaz.
Reward is usually the result of effort. Work that is well-done, effort that is guided and consistent, will result in reward. You may not be singled out to receive recognition. You may get only what is the result of hard work.
But you will know that you have done your best, that you have not expected special treatment because of who you are in your own eyes.
Personal standards for conduct are called principles.
Principles developed through a friendship with God will keep you in His care.
Staying true to your principles strengthens you and satisfies you.
Strength of character takes you through tough times and prepares you for honor without conceit.
Ruth was prepared for greater things.
Check your principles.
Check your work practices.
Glean from God’s Word as a faithful worker.