Time Out: The last shall be first (Ruth)

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

We seem to hear a lot about servanthood today and how God wants His people to be servants. Naturally we all consider ourselves to be servants. We believe we put others first and sacrifice for the needs of those who aren’t as well off as we are. And that may be true. But in the Bible there is the story of a woman who truly was a servant.

Ruth wasn’t a Jew. She was from Moab. When her future husband came to her country to live and asked her to be his wife she thought life would go on like it had for others. But that wasn’t the way God had it planned for her. Her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law all died because they were out of God’s will in leaving Israel and turning to Gentiles. Thus Ruth found herself a young widow. Women then who weren’t married didn’t have many options, certainly no wholesome ones.

The smart thing for Ruth to do would be to return to her home town for she was young enough to remarry and have a husband and family. However her mother-in-law, Naomi, had no one so Ruth stayed with her. Ruth loved Naomi and her God as well. She committed herself to both of them, even though it meant moving to a strange land and living as an outsider in a foreign culture. In addition, this culture was one in which men were forbidden to marry Gentile women. So what future was there for Ruth in Israel? Still, she went.

Fortunately, God has provided for the needs of the poor by saying they could go into fields after they had been harvested and collect any grain that had been left. It was hard work, but at least there would be something to eat. So that’s what Ruth did to provide for Naomi and herself. It wouldn’t provide enough for the months ahead, but at least they could eat while the grain lasted.

Ruth was willing to give up everything to serve Naomi. She did it out of love. God saw this and smiled on her. So did Boaz, who owned the field where she gathered the grain. Boaz was so impressed by Ruth’s service to Naomi that he married her. God blessed her as well. She had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David. Thus Ruth the Gentile widow ended up as an ancestor of Jesus Himself. Ruth was willing to give up everything to serve God. But when a person does that, God always out gives them. God always blesses those who are willing to serve Him. Jesus was the ultimate servant, and we’re never more like Him than when we are serving.

Ruth 1:16-18, “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.’ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”

Matthew 20:26-28, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 9:35, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

John 13:14-16, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”


  • When your friends think of those who are servants, will you come to mind?
  • Who is it hardest for you to serve? Why?
  • When is it hardest for you to serve? Why?
  • What can you do today to improve your service to others?
  • Pray and ask God to give you opportunities to serve others and Him today.

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on April 12, 2009

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