The book of Ruth, and the Bible as a whole, shows timeless truth in a truthless time; and this is especially true in regards to our topic today of relationships. Ruth is a young, single widow. She does not want to remain single but moreso she wants to marry the right man.
In our day and age, we have many singles who dislike singlehood but they dislike patience more. Waiting for the right person and the right time according to God’s standards has become inconsequential rather than imperative.
History shows that if any society wants to survive it must uphold and strengthen its most basic unity – the family. Civilization will collapse without family as a firm foundation.
A 2006 report on NPR said that 80% of Americans are sexually active by the age of 20, and only 20% of women marry as virgins. Furthermore, cohabitation has increased 72% between 1990 and 2000, and the cohabitation rate increased ten-fold between 1960 and 2000. Fully 41% of Americans will cohabitate at some point during their life. Further, by 2016 most children will be born out of wedlock than not.
Simply put, we need more Ruth’s – singles who are more committed to being disciples than daters; and believers who honor Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
EXAMINE RUTH 3 Risk, Romance, and Redemption 3 principles for relationships
Relationships are a risk worth taking (Ruth 3:1-2)
In the story of Ruth, we see a variety of relationships. Naomi & Ruth are two widows who have formed a remarkable relationship. The beautiful bond of love is on full display in Ruth 1:16-17 “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
In Ruth 2, Ruth takes the initiative to labor for food. She works all day and night (2:7) and experiences great generosity from a man named Boaz. The sovereign favor of God has arrived in joining these two individuals. Ruth receives protection in a strange land and provision from a sympathetic man. Boaz receives a bright display of humility and honor from a woman of character.
In Ruth 3, Naomi returns the initiative to provide Ruth rest (ESV/KJV), security (HCSB), a home (NIV). This is important to note because it shows the work and effort it takes for two individuals in relational commitment. Relationships are not one-way streets. Friendship is not effortless.
Relationships are a risk worth taking. In fact, we need each other. That simple statement is elementary simple and yet extremely profound. Vulnerability of the human soul is not a danger or disease to avoid. Humanity lives in a condition of brokenness that we don’t like to speak about. Beneath the surface everyone is struggling in a spiritual battle, trying to hold it together. We are flawed people on a flawed journey in need of a flawless destination. This is the church: broken sinners finding help and hope from a beautifully broken Savior.
ð God calls us to interdependence and intersecting our lives together.
Job 6:14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
1Corinthians 12:20 “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
ð God calls older to mentor the younger. Naomi healed her grief by helping Ruth, also wanted her good.
Psalm 145:4 “one generations hall commend your works to another”
Proverbs 20:29 “the glory of young… is their strength, but the splendor of old… is their gray hair”
Titus 2:3-4 “Older women are to train the young women…”
Friendship can be romantic (Ruth 3:3-9)
Naomi sought to influence Boaz with Ruth’s charm and character. Naomi instructed Ruth to wash and anoint herself with perfume and put on her outer garment (coat – not “best clothes” as NIV). It is likely that Boaz had only seen Ruth with work related clothing and appearance, yet that would change this night. Further, Ruth is to observe Boaz and approach him after work and eating his meal.
Ruth follows Naomi’s advice and uncovers his feet. This is an interesting practice: perhaps it’s to make Boaz awake making his lower body cold or perhaps more likely it is a cultural practice to request marriage (waiting for Boaz to respond and spread the blanket over Ruth; see v. 9 “spread your wings”).
The context clarifies that these actions are not sexual. First is the build up of Ruth’s character is not to be underestimated in contrast to current culture and her hometown of Moab, and is referenced by Boaz (v.10-11). Second is Boaz’s response to question whom was at his feet (v.9). Ruth’s garments were not seductive because they concealed her identity. Third, Boaz is prepared for Ruth to be given in marriage to someone else and not himself (v.13).
ð As Ruth, ladies should be women of friendship and faith.
She was a friend to Naomi in which she is called my daughter 8x
(1:11; 1:12; 1:13; 2:2; 2:22; 3:1; 3:16; 3:18)
– She entrusted herself to the Lord’s favor (grace)
– Leaving Moab and committing to Naomi in Bethlehem (1:16-17)
– Laboring in the fields at God’s gracious direction (2:2-3)
– Listening to Naomi and submitting herself to Boaz (3:5-9)
ð Ladies, rely on friendship over romance in pursuit of a man.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1Peter 3:3-4
ð As Boaz, men are to model character & chivalry
Character described as a man of worth: noble substance (character), standing (communal reputation), strength (valiant warrior).
Chivalry actions displayed with Ruth.
– He treats Ruth as a daughter (2:8; 3:10, 3:11)
(cf. 1Tim 5:2 treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity)
– He helps Ruth to work in his field.
– He share with Ruth the fellowship of his servant women.
– He protects Ruth from danger of other men.
– He provides Ruth food and water.
– He prays for Ruth to be blessed by Lord
1) Raise your daughters to value virtue over seduction & sensuality
2) Raise your sons to value character and chivalry.
“It is better to build boys than mend men.” – Truett Cathy
Children are growing up all around us without good and godly parents or role models.
We must be those men.
Relationships are to be redemptive (Ruth 3:10-18)
Boaz responds to Ruth’s proposal in the affirmative. He prays blessing upon her, calling her his daughter (2x: 3:10-11). Boaz is humbled by Ruth’s kindness (hesed) in that she does not pursue other young men but more, in that she desires to perpetuate the name of their family in honor of Elimelech.
Kinsman Redeemer: A relative with at least 3 roles
1) Perpetuate family generations (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
2) Preserve property/personal rights (Leviticus 25:25-30/ 25:47-49)
3) Punish wrong to family (Numbers 5:8; 35:19-21)
Boaz admits there is another kinsman closer than he was who could redeem the family line. If that unnamed redeemer is unwilling then Boaz desired the privilege.
Boaz filled Ruth’s cloak with 6 measures of barley and sent her home to Naomi. Ruth arrives home and tells Naomi everything.
Naomi is confident that Boaz will not rest until the mission is finished.
How is this relationship redemptive? How does it reflect the gospel and what application does it have for us today?
ð Ruth submits herself at the feet of Boaz.
- à We must submit ourselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus
ð Boaz pursues redemption until it is finished.
- à Christ purchases and completes redemption for us.
à We must also be careful that God’s gift of friendship/relationships does not become an idol. Naomi was selfless but so was Ruth.
C.S. Lewis “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” (Letters of C.S. Lewis, p.248)
àOnly friendship with God is supreme.
ð Last week message challenged to upgrade from B-movie status where you are main character in your story to an A-movie where God is the main character in your story. The way you do that is by risking a friendship with God and then with His people. Friendship with God is costly but it’s even more costly to be His enemy.