Memory Verse: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” Ruth 1:16
Challenge: Which of the characteristics are the hardest for you to accept, wait for, and/or do? Why and how do you remedy it?
To wrap up this challenge, I believe it fitting to discuss courtship, since many if not all participating in this 30 days desire for our Single Season to end in marriage. This is an honorable desire and will be honored when and if God’s Will aligns with it. Let’s discuss what to look for when it does come. I remember reading a book by a Christian couple and they stated that the purpose of courtship is to decide if you are to be married. Then they stated that the answer could and often times will be yes, but it’s not so rare to hear no. This blew me away, because I used to think that the once we got to courtship, all was left was picking the ring, date and dress. However, upon consideration it makes sense. Courtship is defined as a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship with marriage being the goal. By this definition, everyone that courts has marriage as the goal ideally, but reality says that many don’t make it there. What went wrong? I don’t know if I will describe it as what went wrong more than simply receiving an answer that we didn’t prepare for.
Many prayers and petitions that we send to God are requests for fulfillment of our own will and not an expression of submission to His. We have to understand that as Christians when we pray the answer can and will often be ‘no.’ David was told ‘NO’ about building the temple, Paul was told ‘NO’ about removing the thorn. Are you prepared for that? You have to be. If you enter into a dating/courting relationship- continue to guard your heart until God gives you His answer.
The story of Ruth is often only told in light of her being found by Boaz, but there is so much more we need to know about this relationship. Let’s continue dissecting God’s Word to better understand what we should be looking for, and also howwe should carry ourselves. Take a look at these characteristics and see how you may be able to apply them within your life.
1. Commitment: When Ruth is introduced in this book, the first thing noticed about her is her commitment to both God and to Naomi. She forsook her desires for the Lord’s direction. She gave up her family and entire life as she knew it, to follow God. This is the epitome of commitment. Naomi had nothing to offer her but a life serving the God that Ruth had been introduced to thru her, and that was enough. Christ doesn’t owe us anything; we are saved from hell because of His commitment to love us, not saved to receive the provisions of His hand. He calls for our commitment not because he can provide for us, but simply because He is the Way, and all of our provisions come from staying in His shadow. His favor and His blessings are added promises from Him along the way.
a. Application: What’s your commitment level? Are you committed to serve God even if and when the answer could be ‘NO’?
2. Character: Ruth’s character preceded her. Before Boaz even spoke a word to her, he inquired about her. Whomever he asked, they spoke highly about her, even though she was a foreigner in a strange land. Because of her commitment, her character was evident in everything that she did. She was gleaning in fields to take on the responsibility that she could have walked away from, like her sister-in-law. Ruth’s motive was to care for her mother- in-law, not to be seen or recognized for what she was doing.
b. Application: What would people hear about you if they ask someone who has been watching? In courting/dating it is vital to gain insight from others about this person. This does not mean that what you learn will be a deal breaker, but don’t be so ‘googly-eyed’ to realize that a person can play a role for you and be an entirely different person when you aren’t around.
3. Communication: Ruth was committed to appropriate communication. She was open, honest, accountable, and submissive to her mentor and confidant. Many times we don’t seek accountability because we don’t want to tell everyone all the hard issues we face. I challenge you to fight this perception because it is not biblical. We were created to hold each other accountable, to rebuke, to restore and revive within the Word of God. Ruth gave clear information to her mentor and didn’t hide the details. When asked where she had gleaned, she didn’t just say, “Oh, well down the street.” Give good communication, because the purpose of a mentor is to lead and guide you down paths that they have probably traveled. You never know what someone can add to the information you have gathered. Again, when dating (or deciding to date), ask around about your potential. You shouldn’t base your sole decision on the information you gather, but how the person is perceived may reveal something about their character.
c. Application: How are your communication and accountability skills? Pray over areas that you need to communicate more in and use them with your ‘counsel’ that you will be seeking.
4. Counsel: The Bible states that a man is wise who seeks wise counsel. Ruth trusted Naomi’s countenance enough to listen and heed her advice. She recognized her mentor had more experience than she possessed and wanted to learn from her. Don’t seek wise counsel if you aren’t going to use it. Find someone who is in the position you want to be in (strong in character, commitment, communication, and Christ), then commit to sit at their feet and glean from them.
d. Application: Do you have a mentor? Why or why not? The Bible says that ‘he is wise who seeks wise counsel’. Pray and be lead to mentors-spiritually, financially, vocationally, male/female- etc- it’s favorable to have at least one person from each area of your life pouring into you and guiding you in the ways of the Lord.
5. Courage: Ruth took a huge risk by going to present herself at the threshing floor. If someone else would have seen her or mistook her intentions, this could have hurt her witness and brought doubt to her virtue. When we submit to God, we have to risk everything we know to gain all that He will give us. Because she trusted her counsel, she had the courage to know it was sound advice and then act on it. Be cautious of your counsel and know that if God is your Chief Advisor, He will not direct you outside the safety of His plan.
e. Application: Be strong and courageous for I, Your God is with you-Joshua 1:1-9. What areas of your life do you need God to give you courage to perform and endure?
6. Courtship: Boaz made his intentions clear from the beginning. Ruth didn’t have to guess his feelings or what the next steps would be. He was very clear on the direction of the relationship, and he acted as the head. He protected her virtue. A man ready for courtship will protect your virtue and favor above his own desires. He covers her. As a man you should provide a shelter to your mate, and as a woman you should always feel protected and safe with your mate. He will “fight” for what is his and will contend with anyone or anything that stands between them. Remember love always hopes and protects. If your potential mate is encouraging you to do ungodly stuff, that might not be love, but lust.
f. Application: What is the difference between courting and dating? Which are you ready for, are you participating in?
7. Covenant: we will actually discuss this in the next challenge, so it has been taken out and expounded on for the next day.
Use these 7 (number of completion) characteristics to evaluate and model your current and future romantic relationships. If it doesn’t add up- you are too valuable to add yourself to it.