Unexpected Kindness

from the Ruth reading plan

Ruth 2:18-23, Deuteronomy 7:7-9, Psalm 41:1-3

“God helps those who help themselves.”

A biblical principle? Nope. It’s not found in the Bible at all, though some people think it is. It’s actually an old adage popularized by Benjamin Franklin, who seemed to have been paraphrasing the Greek thinker, Aesop.

A close examination of the Gospels reveals that Jesus never really made a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor (those meriting or not meriting help because of their behaviors or attitudes). Jesus simply talked about the poor—no qualifiers attached. His love and care for each person in need was abundantly evident. Jesus instructed His followers to care for “the least of these” for, in so doing, they were offering worship to God (Matthew 25:40).

Throughout redemptive history, God has consistently revealed to His people that it is important to care for the poor. Today we read of the kindness and generosity that Boaz shows to Ruth and her family, and we also see the specific charge God gives to the Israelites in Deuteronomy.

In Scripture, and in our daily living, we can observe two postures common to giving and charitable work. I know I’ve personally adopted one or the other at different times.

The first posture of giving presupposes ownership. When we give from a place of ownership and possession, we tend to think like this: “I work really hard, and I try to do the right thing; therefore, I deserve nice things. Poor people don’t work as hard as me, and they don’t make good choices. They’re lucky I choose to give from time to time.”

The second posture of giving looks like thanksgiving. When we give from a place of humble gratitude to God, we tend to think like this: “Man, I don’t deserve any of these nice things. God’s image rests on all humanity. That some should suffer while I thrive is a complete mystery. I get to give because God has given me these resources to steward and offer as a means of His love.”

God knows that giving is good for us, even though it can seem so counterintuitive and countercultural. But it’s part of His nature.

God helps those who cannot help themselves. He helps them precisely because they are stuck. He delights in caring for us. That has been the story from the very beginning. God chose a people not for their might or magnificence, but because of His mercy.

We are called to give wisely and lovingly. We are called to give caringly and compassionately. We are called to give because, in so doing, we imitate God. Somehow by giving away more and more, we become more whole. This is a mystery indeed, but as we empty our pockets, our hearts and lives are filled in ways we would have never thought possible.

Written By Andrew Stoddard

Spend 2022 in God's Word
Post Comments (14)

14 thoughts on "Unexpected Kindness"

  1. Jace says:

    That we naturally want to please ourselves and not others.

  2. Caleb says:

    God calls his people to care for the poor or less fortunate or even the struggling despite their conditions or circumstances. This is also a way we can worship him.

  3. Caleb says:

    Loving and serving other people better. That’s what believers are called to do.

  4. Caleb says:

    That Jesus loves us and died for us because he is loves us and we can carry out the great commission by helping the poor.

  5. Caleb says:

    That sometimes it’s easy to look at someone and say “oh they’re in this tough time because they made bad choices, why should I help them?” Which may be true but none the less we are still called to love others and to help them in anyway we can. With a glad heart.

  6. Caleb says:

    Father, I pray that you will give me a grateful heart and give me a spirit of love to serve others and serve you before myself. I pray that Christians around the world will continue to seek God, serve others, and share Christ.

  7. Sean Thelen says:

    The Gospel turns everything upside down. The hard work that I do is merely possible through God’s strength. If I get a promotion or a better job, it’s simply through God’s strength.

  8. Sean Thelen says:

    God is merciful. God’s economy is vastly different than mine. He gives not because He will receive more but because He is merciful. He delights in showing mercy to the poor. He lifts up the humble and casts down the proud.

  9. Sean Thelen says:

    As a human, I tend to think that the work I do deserves a wage. I think I deserve more money if I work hard. I think I should be able to own nice things and go on nice vacations if I work hard.

  10. Sean Thelen says:

    As I am dedicated to praying for my wife while I do this study, I will pray that she will have a deeper understanding of God’s mercy and provision in her life.

  11. Sean Thelen says:

    I will pray that God will provide an abundance of good and perfect gifts for my wife. I will pray that God would be merciful on her and show her grace and compassion by providing for her every financial need.

  12. Lukas Fortunato says:

    God cares for the needy and helpless. And whether we have experienced financial destitution or not, we have all experienced spiritual destitution. We’ve been rescued from slavery and adopted as sons. When we were the most undeserving and could not help ourselves, God showed his love by bringing us into his family.

  13. Lukas Fortunato says:

    Created in Gods image we have the same desire and heart to reach out and rescue, adopt, and free. We don’t always love out of this God spark within us but it is there and we are hard wired with the desire to do good to others especially the poor and needy.

  14. Lukas Fortunato says:

    It is a message of hope in hopeless situations. Naomi and Ruth thought their lot was cast and that they had nothing to go back to. They were in survival mode in its purest form. And yet, in the midst of all seeming lost, God shows up in a powerful way. That is the essence of the gospel.

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