Chapter Six: “A Different Kind of Dinner Date” Ruth 2:8–17
Midway through every well-plotted novel or movie, the hero and/or heroine reaches a point of no return and takes a brave step forward, closing the door to all that came before. We’re there, beloved.
Ruth has gleaned, Boaz has noticed her, and now they stand face to face. Though Boaz appears to be the one blessing Ruth, we’re reminded, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Once again, we see God at work behind the scenes, prompting Boaz to be generous, and reminding Ruth to be grateful.
1. a. Professor Katharine Doob Sakenfeld neatly sums up our hero: “Boaz is at once the upright citizen, the helpful relative, and the unmarried land owner.” Of these three roles that Boaz plays in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, is one more important than the others, or are all three of equal value? Why do you say that?
I think they’re all equally vital roles. Since the whole town respects Boaz, Ruth feels safe with him from the start. As a relative of Naomi’s late husband, he is in a position to assist the women. Though wealthy men often took more than one wife, Boaz’s unmarried status means he is free to claim a bride and be an honorable husband to her. And, because he owns land, Boaz can provide a proper home for her. God knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Ruth and Boaz together.
1. b. How does the Lord Jesus fulfill similar roles in your life—as a citizen of heaven, as your helpful brother, and as your bridegroom who is preparing a place for you?
When I think of all the ways Boaz represents our Lord Jesus, I get goose bumps—or “bumps of goose,” as my translator in Thailand phrased it a few years back. Either way, the prospect is thrilling!
Philippians 3:20 assures us, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” He reigns there, he is worshiped there, and we can trust him to safely convey us there. Where Christ lives now, we shall live forever: “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). A solid fact without a hint of “maybe.”
Remarkably, Jesus claims us as his family: “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). I have three older brothers and two older sisters who kept an eye on me from the day I was born. Had I not been such a rebel, I might have reached out to any of them for help during my Bad Girl years. But only Jesus had the power to save me, and so he did.
As our heavenly bridegroom, Jesus promises, “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Can you imagine what that celestial home will be like? A few years ago I read My Dream of Heaven, a nineteenth-century classic by Rebecca Ruter Springer. It’s not the sort of book I usually reach for, but I found her description of heaven comforting. Whether her vision is fiction or fact matters not; the real thing will be infinitely more than we can ever hope or imagine.
2. a. Boaz generously provides for Ruth with no apparent expectation of any return on his investment. The command found in Deuteronomy 15:11 may account in part for Boaz’s kindness. So might Proverbs 11:25. How would you explain his motivation?
Boaz is certainly “openhanded…toward the poor and needy” (Deuteronomy 15:11). And we saw from his earlier greeting to his farm workers and their joyful response that the idea of “he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25) is a reality in the life of Boaz. Yet, judging by his actions and words, Boaz seems utterly unconcerned about how he might benefit from being generous. It’s not about him, at any level. His motivation is of the purest nature, which suggests it’s the Lord’s generosity, pouring through his servant, Boaz.
Even so, I think Boaz truly loves blessing others. He’s that “cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Paul writes about, with the spiritual gift of “contributing to the needs of others” (Romans 12:8). Again, it’s our generous God, working through Boaz.
2. b. Think of a time when you made a contribution prompted by guilt. Perhaps another time when you made a donation with a tax advantage in mind. Or maybe you gave to a cause that brought you some attention or recognition.
Oh, dear. It would almost be easier to mention the few times I gave without one of the above situations coming into play. But that wasn’t the question asked, so I need to be honest with myself and with you, and confess a recent example.
I was at a Women of Faith conference, sitting with the other speakers, watching the World Vision video with tears in my eyes. A wonderful cause, a trustworthy ministry. At day’s end, I hurried into the lobby and claimed the packet of a child from Ethiopia, delighted to pledge my support. So far so good. Guilt was surely part of the motivation, yet I hope compassion was a factor too. Surprisingly, the tax advantage didn’t even cross my mind.
Now, if only I’d kept my mouth shut and simply listened for God’s soft whisper, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). Instead I looked for the first opportunity to casually mention to my speaking sisters, “I just sponsored a child…”
Groan. What was that about? It was about being prideful. About wanting to fit in. About hoping to be seen as generous. In a word, it was horrid. Not the giving…the telling. I’m still very glad I chose to sponsor a child, but my motivation wasn’t 100% pure.
Please, please forgive me, Lord. Help me open my wallet and close my mouth.
Contrast those experiences with an instance in which you gave without anyone knowing about it.
I can think of such an instance. But if I tell you about it, that will ruin everything! I’ll just say that it was God’s idea, and for once I was quietly obedient. The memory of that day is sweet, unlike the sour taste I had in my mouth after blurting out what a good and giving girl I was. If I can keep that comparison in mind it might help me keep my giving—make that God’s giving through me—well hidden.
Why does Matthew 6:3–4 encourage us to be both generous and anonymous?
That’s how we keep our motives pure: by giving in secret, by telling no one, by asking our names to be left off the donor list, by passing on the perks that being generous can sometimes bring. Our accountant needs to know, but no one else does. And the reward doesn’t come in a refund check from the IRS; it comes from the Lord.
3. a. David repeatedly turned to the vivid imagery of a bird gathering its chicks under its wings to describe how God nurtures and protects his own.
On page 84 of the text I mention this photo being bantered about on the Internet:
Perfect, isn’t it? Of the verses listed from the book of Psalms, I find 36:7 most comforting: “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Each phrase offers encouragement. God’s love never fails and is beyond price, yet he offers his love to us as a gift. Everyone at every level of society who runs to his side is made welcome. He protects, hides, comforts, and provides. No one, not even Boaz, comes close. Only God.
3. b. What aspect of being beneath his wings most appeals to you? Is it the closeness? The assurance of protection? The physical warmth? The sense of being hidden from view? The peacefulness?
I suppose it would be cheating to say, “All of the above” (smile). I didn’t actually list the aspect that most appeals to me, and that’s the sense of his presence. I love knowing I am never alone.
How is that essential need for intimacy currently being met in your life?
I lived alone all through my twenties and was truly happy doing so. Then, when I married my husband and welcomed him into my little urban nest in my thirties, I suddenly realized I was glad to have someone who loved me living under the same roof. Clearly the Lord brought about that change in me. I was content to be alone in my single years and pleased to have company when I married. Either way, I knew I wasn’t truly alone—ever.
If this need isn’t being met in your life, what’s an appropriate and meaningful way for that longing to be satisfied? And how might you put that in motion?
Though this question doesn’t apply to me, I’ll add that I still seek time alone with the Lord. My husband tells me he needs that too. Time to think, to read the Word in silence, to listen for God’s voice, to consider his counsel. Could be an hour, could be a whole day apart. I love my man, and he loves me, but we both love the Lord above all. Like the two wee birds in the photo above, we both seek the shelter of God’s wings.
Now its your turn to leave a comment at the bottom of our blog, perhaps sharing the answer to one of the questions that impacted you most, or a memorable truth you’ve learned from Ruth 2:8–17.
We’re at the halfway point, girlfriend, and will reach the end at Thanksgiving. I’m already thankful for you, and can’t wait to hear what you’ve learned. Blessings on your week!
Your sister, Liz