by Sharon Betters
...and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:3-4 ESV
Rahab the Harlot and Salmon, son of Nahshon, head of the tribe of Judah gave birth to Boaz. What was it like growing up as Rahab’s son, a son who would one day eagerly pursue a marriage with a Moabite woman?
Boaz is the Kinsman Redeemer for Ruth the Moabite. Ruth’s family lineage does not stop Boaz from falling in love with Ruth, marrying her and building a family, all with the blessing of the people and elders of Israel. Did Rahab unknowingly help prepare her son for this moment by teaching him that all people are to be treated with respect and honor, no matter their roots or heritage? Did Salmon his father teach him the same by the way he loved Rahab the Harlot? What does Boaz’ response to a woman from “outside the camp”, teach us about how to influence our own children?
The legal lineage of Jesus that includes women like Tamar, Rahab and Ruth foretells the inclusiveness of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer. What a beautiful picture of how “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world! Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight! Jesus loves the little children of the world!”
Ruth’s inclusion in the genealogy of Jesus is pregnant with life lessons and beautiful life-transforming truths, too many to unpack in a short devotional so I want to focus on just one today. As I write this devotional, our country, the United States, is breaking apart. Deep, dark racism pushes its monstrous claws through our culture and refuses to be buried any longer. Through what grid should we view these sad and sorrowful days? We must own the story of our country. Our country was built on the backs of slaves, people imprisoned by other people. What can we do to learn from the sins of the past?
In our backyard, we battle a weed we call devil grass. We have tried everything to kill it including killing the grass, digging up the entire yard, waiting a year and then covering the dirt with beautiful sod. For a few years, we thought we had won against the devil grass. A few shoots made an appearance and no matter how hard we tried to stay on top of them, the roots were so deep, they simply dug their way past the weed killer and popped up yards away.
Racism is like that devil grass. The roots are deep, often hidden in dark corners of our hearts. We might say we are not racists because we do not hate those who are different from us. But racism is often more subtle than the displays of vicious hatred we are witnessing. Like the devil grass, its roots go deep and even hide. Just when we think we’ve eradicated it, the vines work their way into the good grass. These awful events in our country present Christians with an opportunity to honestly look at our own hearts and allow the chaos around us to help us ferret out any residual racism that encourages us to believe we are better than anyone else. Proverbs 20:23 says, "Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good." Any time I look down on another because of the way they dress, their skin color, their accent, their financial status, their appearance, even their personality and choices, I am using dishonest scales and differing weights. Hearing that the Lord detests such judgment stops me in my tracks. God’s inclusion of Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, Gentile women, women “outside the camp” of the Israelites, is a profound reminder that such racism is detestable to God.
Father, each of us wants to belong. You open the door to Your family through the sacrifices of Your beloved Son, Jesus. Pull us closer into Your heart, draw us with Your love and shine the light of Your grace on those places we are holding back from You. As we get closer to Christmas, use the very symbols and music of Christmas to cultivate our love affair with Jesus.