Reaping and Sowing
he Lord rewards faithfulness and punishes sin. But in many cases, the consequences don’t appear immediately. The biblical concept is that you reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow (Life Principle #6).
The story of Ruth illustrates this spiritual law. When Ruth’s husband died, she left her country to accompany her mother-in-law back to the homeland of the Jews. The effects of her obedience appeared relatively quickly: God provided for Ruth and Naomi because of the younger woman’s faithfulness. If you aren’t familiar with the story, begin by reading Ruth 1:1–4:22.
In biblical times, it was customary for married women to live with their husbands’ families.
- What, other than love for Naomi, might have motivated Ruth to return with her (vv. 14-17)?
Naomi was probably not only well known in Bethlehem but also highly respected, because of her deceased husband’s reputation. The entire town greeted her when she returned (1:19).
- Naomi tells the people not to call her by her given name, which means “beautiful” or “pleasant.” She wants to be known as Mara, or “bitter.” Why do you think she says this?
- How is Boaz described in Ruth 2:1?
- To whom does he give credit for Ruth’s reward (v. 12)?
- “Gleaning” is the act of collecting grain left behind for the poor (Lev. 23:22). Based on what Boaz and Naomi say in verses 15, 16, and 22, what problems was Ruth spared by gleaning in his fields?
Note: An ephah of barley equals about 7.5 gallons.
- When she talks to Naomi, what does Ruth learn about Boaz (v. 20)?
What was a “kinsman-redeemer”? When a man died, his brother or close relative was obliged to 1) buy back any family property that had been sold, 2) avenge his death if he was murdered, and 3) marry the widow if she was childless, to carry on the name of the deceased.
- Naomi tells Ruth to approach Boaz at night at the threshing floor (3:1-4). What is the younger woman’s reaction to Naomi’s unusual request (v. 5)?
Naomi tells Ruth to “uncover his feet” (3:1), that is, to remove his outer garment so that he will eventually wake up and find her. She asks him to spread his cover over her, which is her request that he promise to marry her.
- What does Boaz reveal about his character by not immediately agreeing to redeem Ruth (3:12-13)?
- Why do you think Boaz warns Ruth to leave early before anyone can see that she spent the night at the threshing floor?
- The other relative readily agrees to buy Naomi’s land, but then changes his mind (vv. 3-6). Why?
In Ruth 4:12, the women bless Boaz and Ruth by referring to the house of Perez, from whom Boaz was descended.
- What does Ruth receive as a result of her faithfulness (vv. 11, 13, 15)?
- What special place does Ruth occupy in history because of her faithfulness and obedience to Naomi (Matt. 1:5)?
The principle of sowing and reaping is clearly stated in Galatians 6:8: “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
- What does it mean to “sow to the flesh?” (See Galatians 5:17-21 if necessary.)
- In what ways does your flesh reveal itself?
- What does someone reap if he sows to the flesh (Gal. 6:8)?
- What are some consequences you’ve experienced because of fleshly living?
- What does it mean to “sow to the Spirit?” (See Galatians 5:22-23 and Romans 8:14 if necessary.)
- What is the fruit of doing so (Gal. 6:8)?
- Describe your life when you are sowing to the Spirit.
- List a few good things you have reaped because of godly choices.
- How does that fruit motivate you to continue following the Lord wholeheartedly?
While God certainly blesses us for following Him, sometimes He chooses to delay our rewards and recognition until heaven. Also, we should expect Him to reward us, instead of looking for people to notice and appreciate our good deeds.
- Have you ever expected earthly rewards for godly choices and been disappointed? Explain.
- Describe how Colossians 3:23-24 motivates you to be your best in all things.
- How can Revelation 2:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 comfort you when you don’t experience earthly rewards for obedience?
Closing: Ruth learned firsthand that God rewards faithfulness. Because she honored Him by loving and obeying her mother-in-law, He abundantly provided for their needs. You can trust that God will reward you, too, for your commitment to and love for Him.
Prayer: Father, thank You that no good deed goes unnoticed in Your kingdom. Help me surrender more and more to You and give in less to my flesh. Enable me to obey You, knowing that You will reward me someday, whether during my lifetime or in eternity. Amen.