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One of the ministers in my church recently preached about compassion, and since I was so challenged by his message, I decided to combine some of his points and referenced Scriptures with some of the thoughts they provoked in my own mind. Brother Darren started out with this passage from Matthew 25:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
(Matthew 25:34-40, KJV)
Of course we know that it is important to show compassion to those around us. Whatever we do to those around us, we do to God. But how does that look in shoe leather? Brother Darren referenced the story of Ruth as an example of compassion. The verses I’m giving here come after Boaz tells Ruth to make herself at home gleaning in his fields:
10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
12 The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
(Ruth 2:10-12; 15-16, KJV – italics mine)
The whole story of Ruth and Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, is a beautiful foreshadowing of Christ and His bride, the church. Because of this connection, the compassion that Boaz showed to Ruth takes on an even sweeter, deeper meaning to me. Boaz showed great kindness to Ruth because he knew that she was seeking the truth – and he knew that his treatment of her would color her view of the God in Whom she was learning to trust. Is this not true today as well? Those of us who claim to be children of God are the ones who color the world’s view of Him. That is such a great responsibility – but such a great blessing as well! Just think: God has chosen you to show His glory to the world!
Boaz told his reapers to drop handfuls of grain for Ruth to pick up. His generosity is such a beautiful picture of Christ’s never-ending generosity to us as well as a picture of the generosity that we should be showing to others. What are some practical ways that we can drop handfuls of grain for people today? Here are some ideas that came to my mind:
- Help meet the physical needs of those around you. Boaz was providing for Ruth physically, and a physical provision can be such a clear picture of love and compassion. I think it’s interesting that Boaz didn’t just give Ruth a hand-out in this case. He enabled her to work, and he provided for her as she was doing that. Work is a God-ordained principle for a reason: it’s therapeutic! Another interesting point is that Boaz provided for Ruth anonymously when he told his reapers to drop grain for her. The provision that he was making for her was definitely not to make himself look good; instead, all the glory went to God. I think there is a lot to be said for anonymous giving when possible.
- Drop kind words. An upbuilding comment to someone can do so much to change his outlook on life, especially if he’s struggling with some discouragement. You can do this in person or even just give an anonymous note if you feel that is more appropriate in a given circumstance. I enjoy giving cards to people more than having a one-on-one conversation if I feel I don’t know them that well (I’m actually a fairly shy person, but I’m working on it), and many times I have been blessed to know that God used an anonymous note to encourage someone at just the right moment. God works in amazing ways! (Just to clarify – not all the notes I give are anonymous. I think there are places for both kinds.)
- Support someone in an endeavor. This point speaks especially powerfully to me because I tend to be a leader. Sometimes one of the best ways to build someone else up is to help empower that person to take leadership in something instead of doing it yourself. This is good for the other person because he knows that you trust him enough to support his lead, and I promise that it will be a good exercise in submission and trust for you as well.
There are so many ways to drop handfuls of grain for those around us, but there are some important things to remember when doing so:
- All the glory goes to God.
- All the prompting should come from God. Just because something is a good endeavor does not mean that you are called to do it. I am very bad at remember this, so I overcommit, and get stressed, and end up making everything about me instead of about God.
- Compassion isn’t just about what you do – it’s about who you are.
- Drop handfuls of grain not out of a sense of duty but out of a sense of desire to serve God.
- You don’t have to hunt around for opportunities. I promise that there are opportunities right here, right now, in your life. You don’t have to go create a new work. Just open your eyes as you walk. (I speak to myself first and foremost.)
Does any of this ring home with you? It’s been such a blessing and conviction to me. If you have any thoughts to share about practical ways to drop handfuls of grain, please share in the comments below! Blessings to all of you as you journey!