The Blessings and Cursings of Kinship
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Kinship is defined as the sharing of various traits, desires, and characteristics among persons or a group. The sense of familiarity and common interests is also a part of the bonding of kinship. It can be found in families, among friends, church members, as well as any other situations involving relationships. Itís often said that youíre known by the company you keep, and depending on the character of the relationship, that can be good or evil.
As believers, weíre encouraged to relate to one another in a godly and spiritual way. Being honest and loving one another as Jesus taught are the principles of Christian living. In Amos 3:3 reads, ďcan two walk together, except they are agreed?Ē tell us how important it is to have a mutual understanding. In the Bible there are a number of relationships that serves as examples of kinship in the positive as well as the negative. The story of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi is one example of a blessed relationship. The first chapter of Ruth tells us how Naomi and her daughters in law, Ruth and Orpah became widows by the deaths of their husbands.
Next they decided to go their separate ways, Naomi going back to Bethlehem while Ruth and Orpah returning to the land of Moab. The emotional exchange between them displayed the great love they had for each other. So much that Ruth, rather than depart to Moab with her sister, persuaded Naomi to take her along in her journey to Bethlehem. Ruth, willing to denounce her culture to become part of Naomiís, shows the deep abiding relationship that existed between them.
This was unlike the stereotypical contentious relationship depicted about in- laws in todayís society through literature, books, and the movies. Knowing the hardships that they would face as women in a time when society was not very accommodating to widows, their devotion to one another and to God would prove to have a great impact in Judea.
Under Naomiís suggestion, Ruth began to labor in the field of a kinsman of Naomi by the name of Boaz. After Boaz inquired with his servants concerning her, he gave instructions as means of protection over Ruth and that kindness is extended toward her. Having been informed about her background, Boaz showed much favor in regards to Ruth and allowed her access with the reapers in all of his fields. The wise counsel given to Ruth by Naomi shows forth the nurturing relationship between an elderly and young person. The apostle Paul gives an admonition to the church on the same subject in Titus 2:3-4, telling the aged women to teach the young women to be sober and to love their husbands and children.
In todayís society there appears to be a generation gap that has kept both young and old at odds concerning priorities in life. The elderly profess that young people ignore the counsel and advice they give while the young counters that the suggestions of the elderly arenít relevant. Our culture today through the proliferation of fads, fashions and lifestyles has influenced the youth to live as adults before their time. The age group of baby boomers from the 1940ís and 50ís are striving to recapture their youth in competing with the young.
The contrasting pursuits of values between the groups have created a vacuum that makes communication difficult and frustrating to achieve. As reflected in the Biblical account of Ruth and Naomi, their personal relationship to God and each other proved to be a bond that sustained them during difficult times. Mutual respect between the women reveals the mentoring aspect so lacking in todayís relationships and a return to Christian principles can help bridge the gap that persists today.
As the story concludes in the book of Ruth, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife when his kinsman declined to redeem the land that belonged to Naomiís late husband, Elimelech. This custom as illustrated in Ruth 4th chapter shows how the name of the family would continue to perpetuate through Boazís purchase of the land. Boaz joining with Ruth produced a lineage that leads to King David and eventually to Jesus Christ himself.
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