This story is about much more than God playing the role of matchmaker. We witness the powerful image of God shaping a man's heart to reflect God's compassion in such a beautiful way it changes one woman's life and even plays a part in bringing Christ into our world!
You are reading through the Old Testament, encountering tumultuous stories about the blessed people of God, and there appears, without warning or logical arrangement, a book named Ruth. What is even stranger is that Ruth is a foreigner from Moab! No complex theological truths are elaborated, no emphasis on God's laws or holy days are taught, and the story line is hope-filled, almost feeling out of place!
People read Jesus' parables in different ways. Some single out and identify every detail as a teaching point. Some draw them to a common focus of “preaching the gospel” or bringing people to salvation. Some discuss the possible omission of details that are lost or left incomplete in the writing down after the telling.
From childhood, my family taught me that responsible choices shape a life for good. Experience taught me the challenges that result from combining the ideas of responsibility and choice. Within the Gospel of Luke, today's parable follows the story of a prodigal son who threw away his family inheritance – both money and standards – but found new life in his father's forgiveness.
Every week, in my mailbox and on my television, there appear invitations to seminars about financial security, investing for the future and planning for the golden years. I know there were no IRAs, Edward Jones, or Social Security in Jesus' day, but how am I to interpret Jesus' words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal” (v. 19)?
James is a book about necessities. Our modern bookshelves are crowded with books about money management and investments, career success, strategic planning, beauty secrets and diets and exercise programs promising health and longevity. But what about the inner person, the spiritual, the connection with God?
Someone told me when I was young, “Be careful what you say, because your words can come back to hurt you and once said they can't be erased.” It is inevitable that James, teaching about the significance and power of living a Christian life, includes “the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits” (v. 5)
What good is it? Now, there is a disturbing question for religious people.
When you read the gospels and the New Testament letters, the idea of religion is reshaped into a personal relationship with God through his Son and a daily lifestyle based on God's love and grace.