A Devotional by Pastor Cesar Castellanos
Today’s Bible Verse
The Reward for Faithfulness
The life of Ruth is a clear example of faith, trust, and fidelity. She did not let circumstances discourage her. Instead, she trusted that God would intervene in a supernatural way to give her victory. She was known among the Israelites for her determination to not leave her mother-in-law. Since Boaz had heard enough about Ruth by the time he met her, he said, “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord.” Purity, simplicity, and optimism were part of Ruth’s character. Orpah was the other daughter-in-law who decided to go back to pagan customs. She could also see in Naomi what Ruth saw. Yet Ruth was steadfast in her commitment to Naomi, who had taught her about the God of Israel. Because of what Naomi had taught her, Ruth was able to show her faith and trust in God by remaining faithful to Naomi and her God. Our works show what kind of faith we truly have (James 2:17). The Lord will reward our faithfulness just as He did for Ruth.
When Boaz told her that the Lord would reward her work, he did not imagine that he would be used by God as the instrument to reward Ruth. Boaz recognized that she had taken shelter under divine wings, but God extended His mercy and placed her under his covering. According to the laws of the Jews, being a close relative of Naomi made Boaz the very person to redeem and marry Ruth. Although she was young in comparison to Boaz, she thought about raising descendants for God. She also wanted to give Naomi grandchildren who would provide comfort to her afflicted heart. Therefore, she received him as her husband.
Boaz is a prototype of Jesus Christ who became our Redeemer. And we are like Ruth, because in the midst of adversity, we learn to fix our eyes on Him. Jesus is the perfecter and finisher of our faith. He helps us walk with Him without looking at the circumstances around us. Our optimism and our faith cause the Lord to pay attention; and because He is pleased with us, He extends His wings to give us shelter. He tells us not to fear because we will always be safe with Him, and He will be in charge of our future.
Something to Think About
Fourteen years ago, while looking through the student roster of the university for the opening session of my class on Theology of Faith, I saw Tommy for the first time. He was combing his long blonde hair that was about three inches past his shoulders. The important thing, however, was what was inside of his head, not on top of it. Nonetheless, I was not ready for Tommy in those days. I wrote him off as too problematic.
Tommy became the resident atheist in my class. He was always either objecting to or mocking the possibility of a God who was capable of loving unconditionally. However, we lived in relative peace for six months, though sometimes he would cause me a headache. By the end of term, he handed me his exam and asked in a somewhat cynical tone, “Do you believe I will someday meet God?” Choosing to cleverly confront him, I emphatically said, “No!” “Ah! I thought that was the product you were selling,” he replied. After letting him take five steps towards the door, I called his name, “Tommy! I do not believe that you will ever meet Him, but I am sure that He will meet you.” He shrugged his shoulders and left. I felt a bit disappointed that he didn’t seem to understand the point I was trying to make.
After his graduation, a sad report came to me. Tommy had developed terminal cancer. Before I had the chance to go and visit him, he came to me. When he entered my office, I could see that his body was deteriorating, he had lost his long hair due to chemotherapy. However, his eyes were brilliant and his voice sounded firm like never before. “Tommy, I´ve been thinking of you very much. I know that you are sick,” I said. “Yes Professor. I’m very ill with cancer, and it is only a matter of weeks,” he replied. “Can you speak about it?” I asked him. “Sure! What would you like to know?” “How do you feel knowing that you are 24 and are about to die?” I said. He replied, “Well, it could have been worse!” “How is that?” “Like being 50 and have neither values nor ideals. Like being 50 and believing that drinking and making money are the most important things in life. But I came to see you because of what you said to me on that last day of class. When I asked you if you thought I would ever meet God and you said no, it surprised me. Then you added, ‘But He will meet you.’ I thought a lot about it, though my search was not serious at that time.” He went on to say, “However, when doctors removed a lump from my groin and said that it was malignant, I seriously decided to look for God. When they found that the cancer had spread to my vital organs, I began to knock at the doors of Heaven! But nothing happened.
One day, I woke up and instead of launching more vain requests to a God that might or might not exist, I simply gave up. Neither God nor eternal life mattered to me anymore. I would spend the time I still had doing something more fruitful. I thought of you and of something you had said during one of your seminars. You said, ‘True sadness is to walk in life without loving. But it would be equally sad to leave this world without saying I love you to those we love.’ I started with the most difficult one, my father. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him to say that I needed to talk with him. ‘All right, let´s talk,’ he said. ‘I want to tell you something important, Dad.’ Slowly, he lowered the newspaper, just below his nose, to ask me what the matter was. I replied, ‘Dad, I love you. I simply wanted you to know it.’” Tommy smiled and told me, with a certain degree of satisfaction, as if a warm and secret happiness was flowing inside of him, that the newspaper fell to the ground. “And my father did two things that I don’t remember him doing before. He cried and embraced me. We talked through the night, though he had to work the next day. It was easier with my mom and my brother. We also cried and embraced one another while sharing things that had been kept in secret for many years. It was a pity that I had waited for such a long time to speak those words to them. And there I was, at the shadow of death, just starting to be sincere with those who were closest to me. One day, unexpectedly, God was already there. He did not come when I cried out for Him to come. Apparently, God does things His own way and in His timing. The important thing is that you were right. He met me, though I had given up my search for Him.”
I said, “Tommy, I believe that you are saying something very profound. You are saying that the most certain way to meet God is not by trying to make a private property of Him, but by opening up to love.” I asked Tommy if he would do me the favor of coming to my class on theology of faith to tell my students everything he had just told me. Even though we set a date, he could not come. Surely, his life did not end with his death; it only changed his life. He took the greatest step, from faith to vision. He found a life much more beautiful than any human eye could ever see, or that the mind of a man could ever imagine. Before his death, we talked for the last time. He was too sick to come to my class. However, he asked me to tell his story to the whole world. Of course I told him that I would.
“Now, will you say it to all those who live close to you, in your house, in your job?”
“Dear God, thank You for revealing Yourself to me. You really help me stand firm in the midst of my storm. You drew me much closer to You. Thank You for Your favor on my life. I know, that while I am close to You, I will always be protected because my future is in Your hands. Finally, I have decided to be faithful to You no matter what happens to me. Thank You for the rewards that You have in store for me. I worship You Jesus, Amen.”
Today’s Bible Reading
- Old Testament: Jeremiah 1-2; Ecclesiastes 1
- New Testament: John 1:1-18; James 1:1-11