The dating culture often teaches us to sit back until the right person comes along to completes us. Yet the Bible always wants us to be active when it comes to relationships. It talks about us learning to build healthy and good relationships that bring community and a sense of belonging. The story of Ruth and Boaz is a great example of this.
In my last post I talked about how God’s word never gives us a dating manual. In fact, it doesn’t even talk about dating. However, it does talk a lot about relationships and godly principles for them. These are what we can take hold of and learn to apply to the dating culture around us; to transform it and build amazing relationships. (Read the last post by clicking here.)
The Bible constantly calls for us to be active in all relationships
I also said I would talk about one of these principles in my next post. Which is what I’m doing now! Lots could be said and there are many principles that are relevant, but I want to focus on the idea of activeness.
Activeness in The Bible
The Bible constantly calls for us to be active in all relationships. For example, the 10 commandments are about people actively choosing to put God first when we’re told to make time for him on the sabbath and not worship other gods. We are also told to make sure we don’t murder, steal or lie to each other. (Exodus 20:1-17)
Jesus chose to restore the relationship between God and humanity, and chose to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). We are told to seek reconciliation with those we hurt and seek to restore and build relationships with those around us (Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 2:11-22; Philippians 2:3-4)
This principle is seen throughout Scripture
God’s word teaches about being active, learning to be a good friend, to love our neighbour more, to be a better colleague, boss, etc. In all relationships we’re told and encouraged to actively be involved in learning to build strong and good ones. This principle is seen throughout Scripture. It’s a principle for all relationships. And one I think we can apply to the modern dating relationship
Ruth and Boaz
Here is another example, of two people who had a romantic relationship in the Bible, but activity sought to put God at the center and be part of building a strong relationship, rather than waiting for a strong relationship to just happen.
(The following extract is taken from page 65-66 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free here)
Here’s another powerful story of individuals making plans and godly choices for their relationships, within the limits of their culture, Naomi, her husband and two sons were from Bethlehem, but when famine struck they were forced to go to Moab. Naomi’s sons married Moabite women called Ruth and Orpah.
But tragedy struck; her sons and husband died, leaving her widowed and childless. Orpah returned to her family, but Ruth vowed to stay with Naomi, even though that meant leaving her country and settling in Bethlehem, in a foreign land.
It might seem like a strange decision for a young woman to make. But the fact that this story of two poor women gets into the Bible at all is a sign of just how impressive and godly their selfless attitude and proactive lifestyle are.
To make ends meet, Ruth takes to collecting food by picking up the scraps that the workers leave behind in their fields. It’s risky work for a young, single, poor woman, who might have been attacked by the field workers. But she has the good fortune of finding a barley field owned by Boaz, who was in fact, a long lost relative of Naomi’s. He instructs his men to keep their hands off her.
‘Then Ruth bowed low with her face to the ground and said to him, “I am not an Israelite. Why have you been so kind to notice me?” Boaz answered her, “I know about all the help you have given your mother-in-law after your husband died. You left your father and mother and your own country to come to a nation where you did not know anyone. May the Lord reward you for all you have done. May your wages be paid in full by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for shelter.”
(Ruth 2:10-11 NCV)
The Meaning of The Story
Eventually, they end up marrying. We know it is not the best ever chat-up line, but it seems to have done the trick! When [hearing] this story in Sunday school… it sounded like a fairy-tale; Ruth, the beautiful but poor woman, trapped in her mean Mother-in-law’s house, is finally rescued by the handsome prince, Boaz.
But this isn’t what happened at all. Ruth isn’t a passive princess in a tower, she’s a bold woman who sees in Boaz a good man who can offer the kind of protection she and Naomi need. She introduces the idea of marriage to Boaz, and being a man of integrity, Boaz agrees to marry her, after speaking to necessary people and following the right procedures (Ruth 3- 4)
They were active, honourable, God-seeking participants in the story of God – not passengers
We don’t know if Ruth was pretty or Boaz handsome; we do know that both of them were ready to act when they needed to.
They go down in biblical history not only as blood ancestors of Jesus, but as character ancestors, with the same kind of compassion and integrity that Jesus showed. Their relationship was not just about feelings and their own interests; rather it was based on the rhythms of God’s desires.
They were active, honourable, God-seeking participants in the story of God – not passengers.
I want you to know that God loves you. He cares about your relationship. His word contains principles and teaching that can help us thrive as we date, and in all of our relationships. Activeness is one that I think we can apply, and helps us to build good, enjoyable, strong relationships.
How do you think you can be active as you date?