Freedom for a Godly Mindset
By Marlene Houk
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” Leviticus 25:10
July 4, 1776, is the birthday of our freedom as the United States of America. My fourth great grandfather, born in 1768, Thomas M. Cate Hardin, was eight years old then. I imagine his eyes widening in wonder as he listened to the emotional voices of adults who realized they were truly free as a nation. Although I have no original papers from my ancestor, still his connection to world-renowned events inspires me to applaud him for simply surviving. He lived through fourteen presidents, two wars, and the escalating tension of pre-Civil War America.
I realized that Ruth’s story in the Bible reminded me of Thomas’s freedom to choose his own mindset, even in uncertainty. During nine decades of turbulent events, my ancestor decided the direction of his thoughts. Did he consistently focus on the hard-won freedom and choose gratitude? Perhaps his actions exhibited great courage or maybe fear engulfed him. Ultimately, the stormy times that Thomas endured prompted me to consider Ruth’s freedom to decide how to think during troubled times. Like my Thomas, she became an ancestor. Her great-grandson changed the world as the mighty King David. And we trace her virtues in the king’s actions and his heart for the Lord. Ruth shows us four ways that we can exercise our freedom to focus on godly thinking.
Courage: Ruth lived in Moab, a nation that fought frequently with Israel, but she chose to travel to Bethlehem, a village in Israel where she met prejudices against her. The reapers seemed to sneer at Ruth—even her name was Moabitish—as they call her “the Moabitish damsel.” They repeated the name just in case Boaz, the owner of the field in which she was gleaning, had missed it. They said she “came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:” (Ruth 2:6). Ruth chose to focus on caring rather than conflict.
We may feel like Ruth at times, living in unfamiliar territory. Dwindling Christian freedoms and a mounting stigma associated with godly morals reshapes our culture daily. We, as believers, need to choose courage as we stand for biblical values.
Gratefulness: Ruth realized that she was different from the other women who gleaned in Boaz’s field. She could have been rejected because of her nationality. When Boaz offered her provision and protection, she recognized his efforts by bowing with humility and grateful words (Ruth 2;10,12).
Being grateful changes our body: relaxing our muscles, refocusing our mind, and relegating injustice and insecurity to the back burner. Thankfulness is one of the most powerful tools for dispelling grief, banishing doubt in God, and overcoming confusion. Ruth shows us how to turn poverty of heart into the pleasures of heaven.
Focus: As I read her story today, more than 3,000 years later, I hear the steely determination in Ruth’s voice as she proclaims her plans to care for Naomi and pursues her God to the end (Ruth 1:16-17). She follows through in beautifully healing ways for the rest of the book. Ruth is simply present. She cares for Naomi physically and listens to her. Ruth leads Naomi gently back into society as she gleans, talks about Boaz, and helps her mother-in-law to focus on something other than her despair. She obeys Naomi and eventually lays baby Obed in her empty arms.
One of the most powerful ways we can free our minds is to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and delve into the delights of Scripture. As we absorb biblical ways of thinking and a perspective that views life through God’s eyes, we crest the mountain of our emotions and focus on eternity. All life is brought under the scrutiny of His Word, and our focus changes from failure to our Father. Ruth teaches us how to turn our focus from fear to faith.
Patience: Ruth gleaned during the barley and wheat harvest in April and May for at least seven weeks and perhaps longer. Gleaning is back-breaking work, bending over repeatedly to pick up stalks of grain and then beating out the grain from the stalk. Day after day, regardless of the heat or rain, Ruth continued to glean and care for Naomi. Upon her return to Bethlehem, Naomi had declared that she arrived empty. Ruth displayed great gentleness as she remained silent during this bitter statement even though her presence proved Naomi wrong. She persevered through the seven-day journey to Bethlehem, the weeks of hard work, and finally the uncertainties and confusion of Boaz taking legal responsibility for her. Through the long days, she brought hope and new life to her beloved mother-in-law.
Patience rises to the top of virtues in Titus chapter two as God commands the aged men and women to be patient (Titus 2:2-3). In Hebrews 12:1-2, patience connects to words like “enduring” and contrasts with weariness and faintness of mind. When we focus on being with Jesus for all eternity, the joy set before us energizes our patience and helps us focus with gratefulness and courage until we meet Him.
When he died at ninety-one years old, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, like King David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, must have felt the breath-taking value of freedom. He lived through decades of conflict, escaped fatal hardships, and fathered my great-great-great-grandfather, ensuring my existence. I’m sure my ancestor committed to many decisions in his nine decades of life. And he possessed liberty to direct his thoughts.
We all have the freedom to look at our lives through our reactions or God’s eyes. We can simply allow our feelings to control our thoughts. Or, like Ruth, we can exercise our God-given freedom to choose a godly mindset. Ruth encourages us to develop:
- courage to stand for Jesus,
- gratitude for His care,
- fortitude for a steely focus on the Lord, and
- determination to live for Him.
Happy Freedom Day!
Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at Bible167@gmail.com
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