Spirit & Truth # 269
By Greg Smith
Like many kids growing up, I received my share of hand-me downs. In addition to secondhand jeans, they also pass on hand-me-down genes. Someone recently remarked that when they saw my mother speak in church, “It was like Greg—in a dress!” We pass on material goods to our kids. We share our genetics. We also share spiritual legacy, insight and wisdom with the next generation. But God doesn’t want us to keep our spiritual hand-me-downs “all in the family.”
Last week we talked about the great influences in Moses life: his mother, wife, siblings, and father-in-law. Like Moses, you may have a close-knit family. They may have contributed greatly to make you who you are. Supportive families are a blessing from the Lord, but I know some people who have become so clannish that their only friends are family members. They have drawn a tiny circle around themselves, letting in only their closest relatives and (maybe) a few good friends. God wants you to draw your circle wider—to include those who may not be very much like you. He has wisdom for you to share with others. God also wants you to open your heart to learn from others who may be different from yourself. He wants you to choose a much larger family than you ever thought you could have.
|Ruth & Naomi|
The book of Ruth is a beautiful story that begins with heartbreak. A Jewish woman named Naomi has two sons. Each of her sons is married to a Moabite woman. Tragically, both sons die, leaving their wives and their widowed mother to fend for themselves. One of the daughters-in-law, Orpah, decides to return to her own family in the hopes of remarriage and a new start in life. But Ruth chooses to remain with her mother-in-law to support her and to learn from her. She says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”[i] Though they had little in common other than shared tragedy, Ruth and Naomi became a dynamic spiritual partnership that became an example of faith for many.
There’s the family you’re born into, and the family you choose. Ruth and Naomi chose covenant with one another. The young woman contributed her ability to glean in the fields to provide their needs. The older woman offered Ruth her wisdom and counsel, by which the duo were rescued from their plight. God brings people together to form spiritual partnerships. Sometimes they’re the most unlikely of associates—but if God puts them together, they’re certain to succeed.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts,” says Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (HCSB). “For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
What potential faith partners have come into your life recently? These people may have characteristics that make them an obvious choice. On the other hand, you may have little in common with them at first. But if you keep an open mind, you may find that they are just the friend that God has in store for you.