“If you wish to buy back the property, you can buy back the property. But if you do not wish to buy back the property, tell me. Then I will know that I am next in line because there is no other relative except me.” Ruth 4:4 GW [see full devo text in NIV below]
“You’ll know a good thing when you see it,” goes a common saying. But it’s also true that things are not always as they seem. As far as good things, another common saying is—If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I often hear people repeat cliches and platitudes like these as if they carry great significance. They don’t. When something is spoken over and over again, it begins to lose its original meaning and value.
The same goes for wanting or wishing for something better or more than what we already have. Winning the lottery loses its luster real quick with all the unintended consequences winning brings—high taxes, expectations of family and friends, difficulties of managing wealth, and so on.
I’ve known pastors of small churches who want bigger ones because they think it would be better. Or, small business owners who want to grow their business bigger for greater income. But bigger is not always better. It brings new challenges and demands many people are not equipped to handle.
I remember observing this as our church body and the other ministries we oversaw grew from start to small to bigger. The changes are dynamic and exponential. These changes impact relationships and the responsibilities and roles new growth and expansion requires.
It can be good but the responsibilities that come with growth and new opportunities are always challenging.
Opportunity brings responsibility
As chapter four begins, we see Boaz seeking out the man who was a closer relative to Elimelech’s family than him (see text below). Boaz understood the responsibility of being a kinsman-redeemer. It wasn’t just about marriage or property.
The role of a kinsman-redeemer was about legacy—the continuation of a family line that could be traced back to the patriarchs of Israel. It was greater than him or Ruth or Naomi. There was a sacred trust to be respected and valued.
Boaz understood the gravity of the situation, so he makes sure there are trustworthy men to be present and witness what he will share with the other kinsman-redeemer. It was an opportunity that carried a great responsibility with it.
This scene takes place at the city gate. This would be somewhat similar to the public squares common in older towns and cities. It would be a public hearing that carried legal and binding commitments.
It might seem that Boaz is setting up some kind of trap for the nearer relative. But it isn’t manipulation in an unethical sense. He set the stage to reveal the true intentions of the other man and himself before the witnesses at the gate.
When presented with the opportunity to acquire property, this man is quick to commit. But there’s more responsibility attached to this property than merely purchasing it. There’s also more to the story but we’ll look at that next time.
Consider before you commit
Here’s the problem with quick decisions and commitments—there’s often more to consider than what we see, hear, or know at first. Most anything of real value requires more attention or responsibility than things of lesser value.
Before making a commitment, we need discernment to assess what we are committing ourselves to with the understanding of the need to be faithful to our commitment once we make it.
Are there times when you’ve been too quick to commit to something or someone?
Opportunities always bring certain responsibilities and require commitment to gain whatever the opportunity holds. Before you commit, ask questions to understand what your responsibilities will be and whether or not you can fulfill it.
When faced with challenges or opportunities, be quick to ask God for wisdom and discernment, and the grace needed to make wise commitments.
Devo Scripture Text
Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.
Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people.
If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.
(Ruth 4:1-4 NIV 84)