Guys, Please Don't Get the Wrong Impression (part 2)
I believe God is calling us out, asking men and women to step into who he designed us to be. Fiercely fighting for us to allow him to demonstrate the full expression of who he is in us.
I've seen women torn down and diminished, when God designed us with gifts of beauty, and strength. But I'm watching women's heart being torn into tiny pieces and sent throughout the country like the Levite's wife from the end of Judges.
There is a promise, the promise of a Kinsman Redeemer in the book of Ruth.
My Old Testament professor commented that you can tell a culture's heart toward the Lord by how they treat women. This is after reviewing the harrowing end of Judges, but then starting the book of Ruth and the promise of the man Boaz.
He argued the book of Ruth isn't about the woman Ruth is, it's about the contrast of the man Boaz is in the culture of the "time of the Judges".
When Boaz is introduced he is commended as a “worthy man”, or a mighty man of noble character. The story commends Boaz so much that when he comes to the field and first sees Ruth the narrative says, “Behold Boaz!” essentially trumpets and a narrator proclaiming, “Boaz is the man, our hero!!!!”.
Boaz notices Ruth and asks about her situation, he approaches her offering protection and provision without any expectation or favors in return, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” (Ruth 2:8-9)
Boaz knows that Ruth is a woman who could easily be taken advantage of and recognizes her as a woman of character. As a widowed woman in a foreign land she is bravely providing for her family. Boaz doesn’t come to her with selfish ambitions, but care, concern, and honor.
Ruth recognizes the honor Boaz demonstrates and isn’t afraid to tell him, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:13)
Even in a short story Boaz’s character is commendable. He continues to provide and protect Ruth. His compassion toward Ruth is admirable, and as a result, Ruth faithfully follows Boaz’s instructions, and flourishes.
As the story progresses, Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law) suggests that Ruth approach Boaz on the night celebrating the harvest.
Basically, Ruth would get all fancy, when Boaz had partied and went to lie down next to the harvest, Ruth would creep up to him and lie at his feet, vulnerably allowing Boaz to determine what to do next.
This is the point where almost every Sunday school teacher would talk about how obedient Ruth was to Naomi.
Certainly, Ruth honored Naomi by following her instructions, but I would argue that the man Boaz had proven himself to be encouraged Ruth to be brave enough to put herself in such a vulnerable position.
I mean, let’s see a show of hands from women. How many of us would get gussied up and approach just any guy in the middle of the night saying, “Here I am, ready to do whatever you decide.”
There’s other heart issues we can talk about later if you’re a woman and willing to leave your fate to any random dude’s determination.
But, consider the ENORMOUS amount of trust and confidence Ruth expresses by positioning herself in such a humble, intimate position to Boaz. Trust and confidence that he is an honorable man who will continue to protect, provide, and care for her.
And Boaz proves to be a man of character.
A woman lies at his feet, willing to do what he asks, and he demonstrates his integrity. He doesn’t take advantage of her or try to manipulate the situation. Boaz calls Ruth a “worthy woman” and he is so humbled by her confidence in him. He acknowledges there is another Kinsman Redeemer before him. But Boaz continues to prove his trust in the Lord, that if the Lord has designed for Ruth to be with him it will be, but if that isn’t his will, God’s plan is still good.
As Ruth leaves, Boaz gives her a gift and protects her reputation. Ruth, with full confidence in the man she boldly approached, awaits his action, assured that he is a man of his word and will do what he said.
Boaz shrewdly approaches the man who is first in line for Ruth’s hand and begins the negotiations. But this man can’t see beyond Ruth’s external factors (her nationality, her former marraige, etc.) and even claims that marrying her would ruin his inheritance. He demonstrates the typical man that existed in the time of the judges, selfishly interested in his own welfare.
Boaz and Ruth are married. As a result of their union they are included in the lineage of Jesus.
Now, compare the story of Ruth to the story of the Levite's wife.
In the first, women are clearly a disposable object for gain, but Boaz demonstrates something different. Boaz demonstrates that women are a gift, to be cared and protected. Boaz demonstrates that when a woman is cared for she flourishes. The Levite’s wife shows a woman so stripped of her dignity and worth, exposed and alone. The Levite’s wife is unprotected and violated, Ruth is covered, protected, cared for and thrives. The Levite and his wife are estranged. Ruth displays a level of confidence in Boaz that deepens their relationship. The Levite’s wife dies a horrific death. Ruth and Boaz live one of the most Biblical fairy tale endings.
Boaz demonstrates loving Ruth like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25).
The fact of the matter is, we women are desperately are begging Jesus for more Kinsman Redeemers. Men who are willing to see that our worth is slowly being stripped away from us as we become commodities thrown out to the wolves desiring sexual objects for their appetites or stolen for the benefit of a failing tribe.
We as women also need to start believing and living in the value of our worth as daughters of the king, and redeemed by the ULTIMATE Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus.
The beauty of the contrast between the men in the time of the Judges and the book of Ruth is that when you see a relationship fully expressing the image of God, a man and woman living as they were designed to be, it is profound.
I look around my community and I'm thankful for the men who love like Boaz and woman who honor their men like Ruth.
Last summer I went to a beautiful wedding of two of my friends. The officiator made one of THE MOST amazing analogies I’ve ever heard.
He said, “Austin, you are the head of this new home. But just because you’re the head doesn’t mean that Katie is the feet. She’s your crown, and the love and responsibility you demonstrate in caring for her will be revealed in how she flourishes and gleams.”
I will attest Katie is a beautiful, flourishing woman that you know is loved.
I think there are a lot of churches, men and women out there who believe that women are the foot of a home. These women are downtrodden and dim representations of who they were created to be. They don’t feel loved, cared for, or protected. They are just shy of the Levite's wife.
But, let me tell you, men, should you begin to honor your woman like Boaz compassionately and tenderly cared for Ruth, she likely would respond with so much confidence, trust, respect, and love for you.
And women, it is true we are responders. If you have a Boaz, don’t take him for granted. Honor your Kinsman Redeemer.
Let’s stand together and no longer let women to be traded as possessions or men to settle for surface, dim representations of the women we were created to be.
Men and women, we are gifts to one another. Let’s start acting like it and celebrating who we were created to be.
Together, we are made to be a FULL, breathtaking expression of the Godhead. Partnering for the kingdom to come, living in who God designed us to be, uniquely beautiful and feminine and individually masculine and strong.
Seeing that partnership is life changing.
Let's step into who we were created to be as men and women and take the world for Jesus.