TOWARD LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS
International Women’s Day Speech
By MOLLY WARREN
Five women are named in Jesus’ earthly lineage. Two were Canaanite; two were Jewish; one was a Moabite. One was a prostitute by trade (Rahab); two were used as prostitutes (Bathsheba & Tamar); one was shunned for false promiscuity accusations (Mary) and one was shunned because of racism (Ruth).
All five of these women experienced suffering, abuse, or discrimination; all five also displayed incredible tenacity and moxie, an ability to profoundly impact their world and their peers. Their bold actions spurred on others’ bold actions.
They fleshed out in action the command given in Hebrews 10:23-24, which challenges us “… to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Each action they took spurred on another action in their environments, bettering it for them and their children. You see, love does no harm to its neighbor. Instead, love reaches out in good deeds, tipping the scales a bit more toward balance.
Who were these women? Tamar, a Canaanite who bore twins by her father-in-law after being married off to two of his sons. Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute-turned-spy who chose to ally herself with the God of Israel. Ruth, a Moabite who pressed on in the face of discrimination. Bathsheba, a woman sinned against in rape and murder, who then suffered again when her child died. And Mary, seen as deceptive and promiscuous for accepting God’s will upon her life. These are the people–the women–in Jesus’ family tree.
As I prayed for wisdom and creativity for this talk, I was drawn especially to the two generations of Rahab and Ruth. These two generations tied together encompass some of the gutsiest actions that spurred others on in incredible ways!
Rahab bucked the system, hid the spies, and boldly asked that she and her family be spared from the coming destruction. She challenged–spurred–the spies to show love and good deeds toward herself, as she had first initiated towards them. In doing so, she tipped the scales a bit more toward balance.
Then comes Salmon, gutsy in his own right, a Jewish man who went against every cultural norm and boldly married a genuine, strategic Canaanite woman who had chosen God. And that spurring action tipped the scales a bit more toward balance.
Enter Boaz, their son. Understanding just who his parents were makes it easier to understand Boaz, a man so completely confident at being boldly countercultural. Rahab and Salmon were the informants of Boaz as he grew up; they shaped how he viewed the world and how he treated people.
In the book of Ruth, we see how Boaz chooses to respect Ruth, seeing her as fully human. He reaches across man-made barriers with a hand of love and good deeds, and in doing so, he tipped the scales a bit more toward balance.
While Ruth faced discrimination for being a foreigner, for being a woman, she let none of it define her. She had a goal, she displayed a work ethic, and she went out there and got it done, despite the cards stacked against her. She constantly displayed an attitude of love and good deeds, and in doing so, she tipped the scales a bit more toward balance.
Look to your left; to your right; at yourself. We are the informers of the next generation, shaping how they view the world and how they will treat people based upon the way we view the world, the way that we view people. We have benefited greatly from those who have come before us, paving the way, and for that we are so grateful.
But think: it will now take gutsy actions of love and good deeds on our part to change the current realities of those suffering under a broken system. We are the technicians, teachers, lawyers, professors, writers, researchers, and scientists who can teach, say, write, and live out principles that have the potential to shift the attitudes and actions not only of our generation but also subsequent ones.
Ask yourself what injustices and vulgarities are present in our world today that are not OK. As a generation seeking balance: Women, how can we spur one another on to love and good deeds? Men, how can we spur one another on to love and good deeds?
Molly Warren is a 2018 HSU graduate and is employed in the Honors Program