May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge
Ruth chose to come into the faith of Israel, she chose to believe in God and trust him to be her refuge.
Reading this, I asked God to reveal to me the alternative places to which I was turning for refuge. For me these were/are:
- Exercise and body image
- Money & sound budgeting
- Popularity and the favour of man
I want to look good, because in my looking good I feel confident and that I am more valuable. I want to feel financially secure, it gives me a sense of control and power. I want to enjoy popularity and the favour of man because I feel that their approval will mean I am on the ‘right track’.
So how do I respond after realising I have come to these for shelter? Is the answer to abandon them altogether? To ‘tear down the altars’?
Yes and no.
Yes, because God alone is my Rock, alone is my steadfast unfailing tower of refuge. And no, because these things are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. The Bible itself teaches the benefit of physical training (1 Timothy 4:8), it tells us that our appearance matters. There was a reason Joseph shaved and put on clean clothes before he appeared before pharaoh (Genesis 41:14). Likewise, the Bible also teaches that we must be wise stewards with our money and we should financially plan for seasons of hardship (Proverbs 6:6-8, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13). Finally, the approval of man is not a bad thing. Jesus himself grew in wisdom and stature with man (Luke 2:52). The write of Hebrews also tells us that we should ‘make every effort’ to live at peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14).
So how do I move forward?
Whenever I am engaging in these areas, I invite God to be present. To recall to my mind how much greater his refuge is. This gives me confidence when I am not ‘in shape’ or cannot afford to dress well. This gives me the courage to be generous even beyond what is considered “sensible”. This gives me the audacity to live counter culturally, to live in such a way that demands an explanation. Even if that means that to some people I become like the odour of death.