By Dr. Lawrence O. Richards, Crosswalk.com
A Parent's Prayer
"Lord, may I be given the insight to guide my children wisely and the sensitivity to guide them so graciously that they feel no need to rebel."
Friendship in God's Family
The second of five studies
Last week we looked at Ruth's commitment to her mother-in-law, Naomi. This week we look at the loving way Naomi mentored Ruth.
Ruth had accompanied Naomi from her homeland, Moab, to Bethlehem in Israelite territory. While there were similarities between the two cultures, in many ways Israel must have been strange to Ruth the Moabitess. Naomi had to explain such customs as gleaning, which had been established in Old Testament law as a means of helping the poor (see Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22). Naomi was the one who knew the people in her hometown, and saw the significance of Ruth's providential choice of the field of Boaz in which to glean. It was Naomi who explained the significance of Boaz's possible role as kinsman-redeemer (see Leviticus 25:47-55; 27; Numbers 35:12-31). It was Naomi who guided Ruth as to just how to propose that Boaz marry her and accept responsibility for her and the lands of her dead husband. Again and again as we trace the story in Ruth 2-4 we see Naomi taking the role of mentor, and Ruth gladly welcoming her guidance.
The story of Ruth has a wonderful and surprising ending. Ruth and Boaz marry, and their first son became the grandfather of King David. Through David, Ruth the Moabitess entered the line of the Messiah and became an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Naomi Guides Ruth
A fun family Bible study of Ruth 2-4
Starter: Blindfold one of your children and let him or her point to a place on a world map or globe. Then check out the location. What language is spoken there? What customs may be different than yours? What is the climate like? What do the people eat, wear, and so on?
Together list all the things you can think of that might make it difficult for your family to move there to live.
Bible: Read Ruth 2-4. As you read have one family member listen for and list customs that are strange. Have another listen for advice Naomi gave to Ruth. Have another listen for things Ruth didn't know or understand about living in Bethlehem.
After reading let family members who had listening assignments report. Then discuss the following: What would probably have happened to Ruth if Naomi hadn't been there? Why was Naomi's advice and guidance so important?
Together memorize the second half of Proverb 27:9: "The pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel" (NIV).
Close: Tell of times when you as adults needed guidance and help from others. Then see if your children can identify times they were glad that you were there to guide and advise them.
Pray, thanking God for family friends who are available to help us when we're not sure what we should do.
Most families have their own customs, whether its watching a particular TV show, going to midweek church activities together, or getting an ice cream cone on the way home from church. Together make a list of your family customs. Then have your children check with friends to see if they have the same family customs or different ones.
Family Bulletin Board
Display a collage of family pictures and drawing of the customs described in Ruth 2-4, such as gleaning, presenting a sandal to formalize a contract, etc.
Have available a stack of "please listen" certificates. When a family member has a problem and wants guidance he or she can present one of the certificates and get input from parents and siblings.
The Last Word
When we look closely at Ruth 2:17-23 we see something of what the mentoring relationship between Naomi and Ruth involved. Note these elements:
Ruth openly shared her experiences with Naomi.
Naomi listened carefully to all Ruth had to say and asked questions.
Naomi provided information that gave Ruth greater understanding.
Naomi gave Ruth advice on what course of action "will be good for you."
Ruth trusted Naomi and followed her advice.
The mentoring relationship between Ruth and Naomi was marked by open and honest communication, by careful listening, by a deep concern for Ruth's wellbeing, and by trust on Ruth's part that Naomi had her best interests at heart. When we have this same relationship with our children our advice is likely to be welcomedand heeded.
Read more about Ruth and Naomi on pages 119-121 of Whats in the Bible for . . . WomenTM by Georgia Curtis Ling.
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