Brief Notes

God Gives
the Growth (3):
Ruth & Our

6 March 2024

The Old Testament book
of Ruth gives us a marvelous
picture of the stages we go through
in our consecration unto the Lord

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
— 1 Corinthians 3:6

As we saw in the previous Note, genuine spiritual growth does not come from our seeking, but only from God Himself. And sometimes, it may seem He withholds that growth for a time, just so we can learn this lesson. (See God Gives the Growth • 2.)

As is so often true when it comes to our spiritual experience, the Old Testament gives us a picture that can help us understand this matter more fully. In this case, the picture is found in the book of Ruth.

The book of Ruth and the Song of Songs are the two Old Testament books that show us, in a figurative way, the stages by which we grow in Christ. Of these, Ruth is simpler and more basic, but it is nonetheless quite profound. While the Song of Songs deals more with our love relationship with the Lord, and the turns we need to have as we seek Him, Ruth focuses especially on our consecration to the Lord. In fact, no other book of the Bible provides us with such a clear picture of the process by which we come to consecrate ourselves fully unto the Lord.

According to this book there are four stages in the process of our consecration, which are pictured in in Ruth’s experience of being joined to Boaz; for in this book, Ruth is a picture of one who is seeking Christ, while Boaz represents Christ Himself. Moreover, these four stages are presented, successively, in the four chapters of this book.

Chapter 1 may be entitled, “Turning.” Here Ruth has a turn from her land of idolatry to join herself, through Naomi, to God’s people. It is important to note that today, in the same way, what often first attracts us to follow Christ is not a vision of Christ Himself, but our seeing something of Christ in His people.

Chapter 2 may be entitled, “Gleaning.” Now Ruth has learned of Naomi’s kinsman, Boaz, and goes to glean in his field. In the same way, today, after our initial turn to the Lord, we next begin to learn something of Christ, and start to gain some spiritual nourishment through our spiritual exercises before Him.

Chapter 3 may be entitled, “Offering.” At this point Ruth, due to Naomi’s encouragement, has a much fuller turn to Boaz; she is no longer satisfied to merely glean in his field, but rather, offers herself to be fully joined to him. This corresponds to that point in our life when we are willing to give up our own life so that we may give ourselves fully to Christ.

Chapter 4 may be entitled, “Resting.” After dealing with the one who might have kept her from him, Boaz marries Ruth, and the result, eventually, is the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth through their great-grandson, David. In the same way, if we give ourselves fully to Christ, we will experience the dealing with our flesh and our old man (Rom. 6:3-8). Then we will enter into rest with Christ to enjoy all His riches, and as a result the church will be brought forth as God’s kingdom today.

So, while this book gives us a wonderful insight into the matter of consecration, it also contains a warning: in our pursuing of Christ we must not rest until we are fully joined to Him.

We should not be satisfied, so to speak, with “gleaning in the field of Boaz.” Yet, sadly, so many Christians are just like this. They study the Bible a little, spend some time to contact the Lord in prayer, have some spiritual fellowship with other believers, and perhaps even serve the Lord in various ways. No doubt, these are dear believers who to some extent at least have a heart for the Lord; and yet, ultimately, they are still holding on to their own life, rather than offering themselves and their life up to Christ.

If we remain like this, in the stage of “gleaning,” our experience of Christ will always be quite limited. We can only enjoy some of the blessings of Christ, not Christ Himself in all His riches, for we are not yet fully joined to Him. Thus, we can never find true rest in the Lord, nor will He gain what He is after in the church.

To be fully joined to Christ requires from us a much fuller consecration and offering of ourselves to Him, through many dealings, just as Ruth had to go through many dealings in order to go on in her relationship with Boaz.

We will consider this in the upcoming Notes in this series.

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— 6 March 2024 —