Do you really care about those around you?

Scripture:
While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said. “The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied. – Ruth 2:4

Observation:
Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, husband of Naomi and Ruth’s father-in-law, had returned and walked among his fields when he encountered a group of his hired hands and greeted them. The apparently local greeting and custom must have been to say, “The Lord be with you,” and the corresponding return salutation being “And the Lord bless you,” as evidenced by the unison response of multiple workers according to the text. This exchange of greetings in Ruth 2:4 has led to the common day practice of the “dominus vobiscum” used in liturgy among some denominations. However, today, the return greeting has been modified to “And also with you,” in response to the phrase, “The Lord bless you.”

Application:
Although I am not Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, or Lutheran or of any other denomination that uses liturgy in a church service, this exchange of greetings caught my attention and for a very good reason. In most non-liturgical church settings, people usually just greet one another with the common plastic, insincere greetings of our time, “Hi,” “Hello,” “How are you?”, and other such contrite, overused greetings. You’ll get the “usual” obligatory handshake or pat on the back or hug from a fellow parishioner, but do these people really mean what they say? Are they asking about your well–being out of sincere love and care for a fellow child of God or simply going through the motions of what the modern church has defined as “fellowship”?

When I read the greeting exchange between Boaz and his workers, I truly believe that he had genuine care and concern for the welfare of his staff. They may have just been responding in kind, as most believers do in this era. Unfortunately, I would dare say that the latter is the real truth of the matter in our churches when the pastor or officiate temporarily dismisses the assembly to “greet one another” and “fellowship for a few minutes (really???) following the “worship” portion of the service. Do our people really fellowship with one another at church or even outside the doors of our concrete and mortar buildings of gathering?

We have reduced true fellowship, which by the way is part of our worship to God, to mere contrite exchanges at the doorway or in handshaking at church. Unless you are in a smaller-sized church, do you really “know” others in your congregation? How many of the brethren can you or do you consider to be close friends, and even more so really close friends? Have we reduced interaction among the “faithful” to merely gathering together at weekly services and feeding at the trough like pigs in a pin? When was the last time you actually greeted someone in the manner Boaz did and really meant it with all your spirit? Have you ever once said to someone, “The Lord be with you”? When was the last time you went to a brother/sister and visited them at home and just dropped by to say, “Hello,” and commune with them in Godly fellowship?

The modern church has become a watering hole for transient children of God, who are afraid to plant seed in their church, grow some roots, and dig in for the long haul! People are afraid of offending others or not loving others. They mold their personalities in plastic forms that encase their faces with a fraudulent mask behind which they hide in order not to have to expose the truth of their soul. People are afraid that others in the church might find out that they have sinned in life or messed up really bad or are actually human capable of making mistakes. We’ve created an atmosphere of political correctness inside the church that makes the political correctness of the world look like sainthood.

It is time for the church to wake up, take off its phony mask of “everything is all right,” be real with one another, share the truth of our lives with one another, and be sincere in how we treat and interact with others in our congregations. If you are not doing so well when someone greets you with “How are you doing?”, be honest and tell them if you’re not so hot at the moment. Have we lost so much compassion and love and grace that we can’t do like the apostle Paul taught us, “weep with those that weep, mourn with those and mourn, and rejoice with those that rejoice”? What are we afraid of – people actually getting to see our spots and blemishes and scars? There was only One who ever had no scars and blemishes at birth, and He was Jesus! Now He has scars but only because you and I were disobedient to the Father requiring Him, Jesus, to bear the brunt of our payment for sin!

We, all, have sinned (are flawed) and come short (are not perfect) of God’s glory; however, we have the gift of God, eternal life, through our Lord Jesus the Messiah! Learn to love your neighbor as yourself. Love the Lord your God with all of your spirit, soul, and body – everything in you! Learn to have grace, compassion, and love for your fellow man; you were once in his spot as a sinner.

Prayer:
Father, how do I even approach You today except through the blood of my Savior, Jesus? I humbly ask through the power and authority of His name, Yashua, for Your grace, compassion, and love today. Help me to be ever humble before You and to continually submit myself to You and to my fellow brethren. Give me a heart of love like Yours. Help me to quash the self-righteous indignation that rises within me at times. When my fellow brethren greet me, may I have the words on my lips, as they proceed from my spirit per Your Word, “The Lord be with you,” regardless of how they may respond. I want my salutations to be sincere, heart-felt, and honest. I used to be a hypocrite that wore the plastic mask of insincerity, but no longer. Let Your light so shine from me that men may see my good deeds and glorify You, Dad. Big Brother, thank You for being sincere when You died on the cross in my stead. Without Your work, I’d be dead in my sins still. Holy Comforter, thank You for speaking to my spirit today and comforting me in the fact that I am a child of the living God. Amen.

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