“…and they lived happily ever after. The End.” These are the magical words every human wants within the relationship chapters of their real life love story. We go goo-goo over happy endings. Last week we looked at the story or Hosea and Gomer. It was a story that didn’t appear to have a happy ending, but God can restore any broken relationship to a point that it can be better than it ever was before. Today we will look at another love story from the Book of Ruth.
The story of Ruth begins with a family tragedy. Naomi’s family line has ended with the death of her husband. Naomi’s son dies from sickness, leaving his wife Ruth without a husband or children. To make it worse, both of Naomi’s sons die. So Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth are left as widows without home, without personal property, wandering in a foreign land, and without hope of marrying again. However, this sober scene of emptiness and hopelessness sets the stage for one of the worlds most wonderful and powerful love stories.
Throughout the story of Ruth you will see some quality characteristics arise that are essential to securing a godly future mate. I will use Ruth as a grid for excellent questions when considering and preparing for your future relationships.
excellent questions to ask a potential mate before you begin a relationship:
Are they stuck in sin? [Ruth 1:16-18] When Naomi heard that the famine had lifted in her homeland she decided it was best to go back home. Naomi gave permission for Ruth to stay and perhaps get married again, but Ruth does something very peculiar, she decides to go with Naomi. It can be easy to make more out of this situation than there is, but it could have been easy for Ruth to stay put and continue life in Moab. She decided to make the move away from Moab. In a sense Ruth moves from her home, culture, past, and gods to follow her mother-in-law and ultimately her God.
When pursuing a potential mate it is good get a panorama of their life to see if they are stuck in their sin. In order to understand if this is the case you will have to ask some vulnerable questions: Do they live in the past? Do they hang around people, places and things that keep them living in a virtual Moab? If the answer is yes to these questions then proceed with caution because in most cases these people will not change within a relationship with you. If there is good evidence that they have left these things behind to follow God you have the makings of a great mate.
Are they willing to put in the hard work? [Ruth 2:1-7] Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem on time for the yearly harvest. Though they were single and homeless they did not sulk or feel sorry for themselves. Ruth found work on a farm owned by Boaz, who was related to Naomi’s husband. It was a low level job, as respectable as flipping burgers or cleaning toilets. To Ruth it was a job that supported her and Naomi. She worked hard and did not complain. Boaz saw her working in the field and was attracted to her. He watched her work hard. He observed her character from afar. This is the turning point of the story for Ruth.
Before I began a relationship Sarah, I watched her in action. I was certainly attracted to Sarah. I was attracted to more than her beauty for she was a woman marked by her love for God, sensitivity to sin, hard work ethic, and contagious care for ordinary people. How do you tackle a tough job? Do you tackle tasks with tenacity? Have you ever thought these tasks might be a test where someone is watching you to size up you character?
Are they loyal and committed to relationships? [Ruth 2:11-12] Ruth continued to care for Naomi even though there was nothing Naomi could do in return for Ruth. Ruth was loyal and committed to her relationship with Naomi. She listened to Naomi and respected her mentoring. This loyalty and commitment to support her only surviving family made her all the more attractive to Boaz [vs.11-12].
When looking for a potential mate it is wise to observe if they have a good track record of relationships, especially with their parents, family, and friends. If the person you are pursuing plays dodge ball by running and jumping in and out of relationships, beware you just might be the next target to get hit.
Are they willing to protect your purity? [3:7-14] The scene to follow might sound a little risqué. Ruth comes into the threshing floor and lies down at Boaz’s feet. Why did she lay at his feet? It was Ruth’s way of telling him that she really wanted to marry him. It appears she is making herself available to him. They are alone, it’s late, and the opportunity to compromise by having sex could have come easily, but Boaz protects Ruth’s purity and loves her enough to wait.
What Women Want is a movie about a chauvinistic man who gains the ability to hear what women are thinking. Women went crazy over him because finally a man was listening. Most wish this was a reality, but the Bible is on track with what women and men want in a potential mate. What men really want is a woman with godly character [3:11]. What women really want is true love that protects [2:4], provides, praises, and honors their purity.
Waiting to have sex until marriage is part of God’s plan. God created sex to be beautiful, lovely, and too exhilarating for words, but He also commanded you to save sex for the marriage bed. It is important to adhere to God’s counsel concerning sex because the choices you make before the wedding will impact your marriage after the wedding. Couples who disobey God by having sex before marriage are at higher risk of divorce, adultery and serious sin struggles within their marriage. Seek a mate that will protect your purity.
Are they willing to consider wise counsel in difficult situations? [Ruth 4:13-17] Low and behold, Boaz is not the closest relative, which means he could be relinquished of the right to claim Ruth’s property to Ruth’s closer relative. Boaz does his homework and makes the arrangements to meet this man. As a result, Boaz is waived, redeemed, and is given the right to marry Ruth. They are blessed with a wonderful marriage, a newborn son, Naomi’s family is restored, and they lived happily ever after. The End.
the story of Ruth is about less about human relationships & more about a divine relationship
After a quick skim through Ruth it would be easy to conclude that this book is a Divine Guide to Dating for Dummies, or a thesis on all types of relationships from parenting, singleness, courtship, marriage, to grand parenting. Although read Ruth again and you will notice relationships are a secondary theme to the gospel theme. The Bible as a whole from cover to cover paints a beautiful picture of hesed—the loving kindness of Incarnation, resurrection, ascension, and kingly Return of Christ [i.e. the gospel]. This is the golden thread that weaves though the story of Ruth.
When you turn to the genealogy of Jesus you will see Ruth mentioned as the great grandmother of King David [Matthew 1:5-6], which ultimately is the royal line that leads to Jesus. Throughout the book of Ruth the hidden hand of God is present preserving His promises of a Savior even in the most unlikely situation. God uses Ruth [a foreigner] and Boaz to carry out His promised plan. Imagine if Ruth stay in Moab and never met Boaz. This story might not have been as glorious and God-centered. The lesson for you and me in this story is to follow God no matter how the present emptiness and hopelessness because God is at work. For you will be the most happy when you are in His hands.
wise resources to look at before settling on a future mate:
A Sweet and Bitter Providence [John Piper]