A wonderful model for what biblical giving looks like is found in the person of Boaz. In the book of Ruth, Boaz is a man of valor and respected as a prominent citizen of Bethlehem. When Ruth, a foreigner and a widow in need, goes to glean in the fields of Bethlehem, she happens upon the piece of land belonging to Boaz, who, it turns out, is a near relative to Ruth’s widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. The foreman of Boaz’s fields allows Ruth to glean and gather grain, in accord with the Law which required farmers to leave the edges of their fields unharvested so the poor, the needy and sojourners could scoop up the scraps and feed themselves.
When Boaz appears in the fields, he distinguishes himself as a man of God in his words and in his deeds. The most prominent feature of his godly character is revealed in his giving. Boaz’s spirit of generosity exceeds the formal requirements of the Law. Boaz gives Ruth more than immediate material relief. Boaz’s generosity, revealing a willing heart and spirit, is manifested in three ways: through his provision, his protection, and his promise.
Boaz not only gives Ruth permission to glean in his field, he counsels her not to glean in any other fields. The implication is that Boaz will provide Ruth with all her material needs.
Boaz gives Ruth a preferred portion of the provision. Boaz instructs his foreman to deliberately drop full bundles of the harvested grain in Ruth’s path as she gleans.
- Boaz gives Ruth, who as a woman and a foreigner carries unfavored status, a place of privilege at his lunch table and shares his drink and food with her.
Boaz gives Ruth a promise of protection. Boaz gives Ruth protection while she works during the harvest. He instructs his foreman and the reapers to keep Ruth from any harassment that might be directed to a single woman out on her own in a strange land.
When Ruth slips into his resting place on the threshing floor and covers herself with the wings of his cloak, she is ultimately asking for protection under the Law. In the immediate situation, Boaz protects her reputation by ensuring her privacy.
Boaz gives Ruth a promise. Boaz affirms that he will act as kinsman to redeem Naomi’s property and in the process take custody of Ruth.
Boaz holds true to his promise and redeems the property for Naomi and marries Ruth. The Lord gives her a son and thus provides Naomi with an heir.
Boaz models for us the true spirit of giving. He is obedient to the Law, the Word of God, in providing Ruth material comfort. He demonstrates the spirit of the Law by giving out of a willing heart and a generous spirit. Through Boaz’s giving spirit, the Lord provides Ruth with all she could have asked for:
- Redemption of Naomi’s lands (the lands of her husband Elimelech and his heirs)
- Acceptance as a Moabitess and as a new follower of Yahweh
- A restored spirit for her mother-in-law
- A Godly husband who would love her and protect her
- The continuation of the Elimelech family line
Boaz honored God by modeling his own giving on the giving of the Lord; it was grace-fueled, generous, forgiving, without prejudice, and rooted in love.