Ellen was in her early 40s before her home in rural North Carolina had indoor plumbing. Even then she had a kitchen that was little more than a stove, a sink, and a countertop. But for decades Ellen would begin the day by baking a cake— she wanted to have something ready in case people stopped by. She was known for offering a piece of cake to anyone who came near the borders of her property, including the road repair crew in front of her house.
Ellen understood that sharing bread is a meaningful way to extend generosity to others, especially to strangers. In our final section this month, we’ll see how Scripture describes the hospitality of sharing bread.
Our story today describes the first meeting between Ruth, the Moabite widow who came to Israel with her mother-in-law, and Boaz, the wealthy Israelite landowner. It might have been expected for Boaz to take advantage of a poor, foreign woman; the potential for harm and even violence toward women who gleaned is referenced several times in the text (vv. 9, 22). But Boaz was impressed by Ruth’s reputation as loyal and hard-working. He resolved to make his fields a welcoming place for her to work.
In keeping with the theme of this book, the overabundant loving-kindness of God, Boaz went above and beyond what anyone might have expected him to do. He also offered bread to Ruth for her lunch and then supplied her with additional barley (v. 14). He demonstrated his true nature of great generosity in this hospitality. This initial invitation to share bread would lead to his eventual role as kinsman-redeemer. He married Ruth and became part of the lineage of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Apply the Word
Hebrews 13:2 exhorts, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Is there someone who would love an invitation to dinner? Is there anyone at work who often eats alone? Ask the Lord to show you an opportunity to share bread—or cake!—with someone this week.