Hope for the Stranger

God calls us to welcome and include those who are new or unknown in our communities.

Ruth 1:6-14

When Naomi returned to Bethlehem after the death of her husband and sons, she brought along her widowed Moabite daughter-in-law. Ruth—the third woman mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy—was a stranger, but she chose to follow the customs of Naomi’s land. Because they were poor, Ruth gleaned barley from the edges of the fields, God’s provision in Israel “for the needy and for the stranger” (Leviticus 19:10; Leviticus 23:22). Her faithfulness impressed the community and especially Boaz, the owner of the field.

Ruth lived on the margins, literally and figuratively. But settling in Bethlehem eventually led to a home and family of her own. Boaz, by marrying her, helped to restore the inheritance and prospects of a family devastated by loss. Ruth was welcomed and cared for by her adopted community, and she ultimately bore a child whom the neighborhood named Obed (Ruth 4:13-17).

People like Ruth live in our communities today. You can find them in the grocery store and dentist’s office as well as the dog park, senior center, and library. God calls us to welcome and provide for all the “strangers” among us, just as He welcomed us when we were outsiders. He made us members of His household and grafted us into the kingdom (Ephesians 2:19). How can we extend that same love and generosity to those around us?