In order to have a successful, lasting, godly relationship, we can’t just do whatever we want!
Today we will examine the beginning of the relationship between Ruth and Boaz, which can teach us many things about how to conduct our romantic relationships. Whether we are married or single, Pastor Miles’ challenge to all of us to take a vow of purity and conduct all of our relationships God’s way - not the radio’s way or MTV’s way, or a book’s way or Hollywood’s way. In order to have a successful, lasting, godly relationship, we can’t just do whatever we want! We need to understand God’s guidance and design for our relationships.
1. Virtuous women have their priorities in order. Ruth 2:1-7
In this story, Ruth is a young widow who leaves her homeland to faithfully care for her mother-in-law. She heads to a field during the harvest to glean what falls or is left behind. (Jewish law held that all the harvest which fell to the ground during the reaping should be left there for the poor.) When the boss, Boaz, comes to the field and sees her, he asks about her situation.
There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered him, “The Lord bless you!” Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, “It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.” Ruth 2:1-7
Ruth is faithfully working hard to handle the business of caring for her mother-in-law even though her husband has died. Women, you are God’s workmanship in Christ to do the good works that God has prepared for you to do! No matter what man is in your life or not in your life, God has a special plan for your life as an individual, and you should work hard to fulfill that!
God’s gifting and plans should supersede everyone else’s expectations of you, but for you to fulfill God’s plans for you, you have to know what they are! Otherwise, you will always try to change to please the person with whom you are in a relationship rather than receiving support from that person in becoming the person God wants you to become.
2. Godly men place a woman’s needs before their own wants. Ruth 2:8-10
She will respect you if you respect her.
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Ruth 2:8-10
Ruth is in a foreign land where she does not know anyone. She is in a field with strangers, gleaning what she can, perhaps feeling nervous and alone. When Boaz comes, he has done his homework. He knows who she is, a widow providing for her widowed mother-in-law. He provides for her and protects her.
Imagine if you had a man in your life who took care of your needs before you even asked (doing the dishes, vacuuming, noticing what needs to be done)! Ruth’s response is immediate honor and submission - he has won her respect.
3. Virtuous women do not take shortcuts. Ruth 3:4-5
Ruth needs to marry a relative to regain land and provision. So Naomi instructs her in presenting herself the proper way to win a godly husband:
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.” So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Ruth 3:1-7
There was a respected cultural process for beginning this relationship. Laying at another’s feet was the customary act of submission in a relationship.
Trust God’s process. Be virtuous and godly. You will attract the type of person that you are, so godly women will attract godly men.
4. Godly men consistently exercise self-control. Ruth 3:8-14
How far is too far? Whatever causes someone to lust. Matthew 5:27-30
Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! Lie down until morning.” So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Ruth 3:8-14
Boaz states that everyone knows that Ruth is a virtuous woman. What does everyone know about you? The person that other people perceive you to be is whatever you are putting out for them (and consequently also the type of person you will attract.) If you don’t know how others perceive you, ask a trusted friend.
Boaz also continues to protect Ruth’s reputation by keeping her location quiet, and he blesses her by providing more food for her and her mother-in-law. Rather than taking advantage of Ruth, Boaz protects her and provides for her.
5. In the end, Godly men, handle their business. Ruth 3:18
Then [Naomi] said [to Ruth], “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” Ruth 3:18
Boys do what they want to do, but men do what they must do. Be a man, not a boy!
Naomi means to say that Boaz is a responsible and godly man who can be counted on to take care of things, so Ruth needs to be patient and wait for that to happen.
Ladies, as you think about finding a life partner, you need to decide: do you want a boy or a man? Some of you may be dating a 20 or 30-year-old boy who is not interested in God’s calling on your life and not equipped to invest in who God has called you to be. Or for the men, are you dating a 30-year-old brat who is being selfish and not virtuous?
You are only responsible for yourself and your own behavior and choices. Wouldn’t you rather wait for the things God wants to bring into your life rather than manipulating to get things into your life and having to continue manipulating to keep them?
Pastor Miles’ challenge today is that we all pray to be virtuous women and godly men. And if you are married, ask your spouse, “How can I serve you better?”
Your responsibility in any relationship is according to the will of God, to fulfill God’s goals and your role in them. This is why it is important to be involved in Life Groups and Life Class - that you can have other people around you who are seeking God, can invest in your life and will support you as you seek to be a virtuous woman or a godly man.