We live in a time where there is growing misandry against the menfolk. The media and culture around us have painted a contra-Biblical picture of who men are. The mention of ‘man’ more often evokes a negative picture of someone who is wild, selfish, controlling, a threat to women, and the list can go on. This stands in stark contrast to the call and design of God for men to be loving, selfless, faithful, and blameless. What times like this offer is not the liberty to water down our standards but the challenge to be godly men in a godless age? As you read on, it is my prayer that you and I will be the reason that people believe that such men still exist.
The Bible is filled with examples of men who lived at various times in history, had very different temperaments, and who went on to make different choices in their lives. In the Old Testament book of Ruth, we come across one such character by the name of Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer. Not only is there a mention of his name, but the Bible gives us an insight into the kind of man Boaz was. The deeper we delve into his character; Boaz proves out to be a gem of a man. He displayed masculinity but not quite the way we have come to associate it today with men who are muscular, handsome, have a deep voice, and can make women fall for them. He also lived in a lawless period in the history of Israel very much like ours. The Bible describes it as a time where “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Yet, in the midst of that, Boaz emerged to be a man of integrity, kindness, and courage. Many Bible scholars say that Boaz was the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ who would become the redeemer of all who put their faith in Him.
Let us look into a few characteristics of Boaz and what lessons we can glean from his example-
1) Boaz was a man of standing-
The introduction to Boaz starts off with him being described as “a man of standing”, “a worthy man”, “a man of valor” (Ruth 2:1). His wealth had surely secured his social status but no farther do we go into the story that we find that it was his nobility that had won the respect of the people. He takes the initiative to greet and bless those working under him. At the sight of him, the workers greet him back by saying “the Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4). He uses his power to ensure the safety and security of the vulnerable. This is seen clearly in his instruction to the servants not to touch Ruth, who was a widow and could have easily been looked down upon. Later when Boaz is set to marry Ruth, his noble and wise decision, receives not only the approval but the blessing of the elders of the city (Ruth 4:11-12).
What is your testimony? You and I may be doing great in the performance sheets at our colleges, companies, and workplace. But what do your friends, co-workers, neighbors, society have to say about you as a person? Can the elders and spiritual leaders in our lives testify to our character with confidence? Boaz was a man of standing and worth inside out. From his elders to his workers to the women in his field, he was an example of a true man of God.
2) Boaz recognized the pearl in Ruth
When Boaz first encountered Ruth, she was in the midst of a difficult and messy crisis. She was a Moabite (foreigner), a widow, a refugee, who had followed after her (also widowed) mother-in-law as they fled from a home after all their support systems had fallen apart. Yet Boaz was able to see past her dark history and the social barriers between them to find in Ruth a woman of virtue. Her outward appearance was that of a pagan, but Ruth had pledged to her mother-in-law Naomi that she would follow the God of Naomi, the true and living God. While people still saw a Moabite Ruth, Boaz saw a transformed Ruth. He also took note of the other virtues in Ruth- how she worked hard in the field, the way she was committed to her mother-in-law and did not desert Naomi for a better life of her own (“Ruth, you have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor”- Ruth 3:10). Clearly, Boaz was able to see through her heart. She was not just another girl in town.
In our societies today, there is widespread discrimination on the basis of people’s past, appearance, social status, wealth, etc. Do we have the wisdom and discernment from God to see through these outward barriers and seek out for the pearl in people? God’s view of beauty and success is different from the standards of the world. Only with a renewed heart and mind, can we see people the way God sees them.
3) Compassionate and Responsible
Boaz didn’t obey the law just on the text but in the spirt. The law required the farmers to leave the leftover / the side of the field from harvest. To help the poor and travelers – Boaz didn’t just stop there he asked his servants to pull down stalks of barley for her and allowed her to drink from water jar kept for his workers. He also cautioned his men to not trouble her and to help her get smoothly adjusted to the new place – he intentionally connected her with his women -servants. He additional offered/invited to have a meal with her- also send along with her additional food for Naomi – eventually at the end of the story marrying her.
In your regular walk of life- Do you just end with sympathy or would you be compassionate enough – What God calls us is not just – to do a checklist of what to do and not – but to understand his heart of compassion for the weak and lost. It might be annoying training out the fresher in your team, paying out for certain missions – you do it just not too full- fill your consciousness or company rules -but since you are genuinely interested in their life and wellbeing.
As you take a deeper step in being compassionate – the more selfless you transform within. Ruth’s immediate relative to marry pushed out the thought to marry her- while we asked. He was fine to buy- out the land, but when asked to marry Ruth, he was perhaps afraid that if Ruth would later have a son, he could claim the ownership of the Land. On the other hand, you see Boaz – even not being an immediate relative – he is stepping into the picture. This was what Christ showed to the Church -the unmerited favor of the Lord- even while we deserved no mercy – Christ showed his favor and love to us. Paul in his epistles urges husband – love your wife the way Christ expressed love that’s by giving – up to his own life – being compassionate and a responsible leader – will mean you’re striving towards being self-less.
In the story, you could observe Boaz knowing the story of Ruth – asking her deeper question of how her life is been and timely giving her words of wisdom and doing the acts required. When you are around at work – ask the question- know the story of people around- they are not made in some manufacturing plants- each has a story- know people not just by name but by their story and be part to positively influence.
Peter gives even more direct advice “Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers ” – 1 Peter 3.7
Boaz demonstrates a great trait of being responsible for the well-fare of his employee. From the very movement, Ruth walks into his field – she never felt left out. Are we as Godly men – responsible and compassionate to the people around us? Responsibilities are never a burden when it’s done with compassion!
The story of Ruth is not just about a miss -fortuned girl finding a piece of luck with Boaz but it reminds us of who we are also actually having no hope – lived in the darkness – if it wasn’t for Christ choosing to show compassion to us that we would have hope– it was not that we earned but it was grace. May this fact always be in our minds – as we show compassion to others.
4) Bold yet wise
As I point in the first point “a man of valor” -Boaz was bold enough to take contra – cultural steps to pursue what was right. Firstly, the society norms, thought of him marrying Ruth – a Moabite, refuge – he overlooked the social status -quo. Next was with Ruth approaching him alone in the night to express her desire to get married to him – he didn’t start with thought “ she is not as per our culture” – this act of Ruth could have got her stoned – if some had found of her visit to Boaz. Boaz’s reaction is what we could learn -he sends Ruth back early morning without anyone noticing her and made a thoughtful way of making the matter forward. He took the matter with Elders -asked the nearest kinsman to redeem the land and marry Ruth (as explained earlier). With his wisdom, he was not only able to stand up for what was right – but also got the blessing from others.
As Godly men – we encounter multiple situations – where we need to stand up – be bold up for what right and not just compromise with the wrong teaching and tradition that’s there in the Land/society – are you ready to take such a step and act with wisdom? Boaz was a man of integrity and stood for the words he spoke – never went back from any of it.
In the book of Psalms, we read “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word”- Psalms 119:9 – May our heart be pure and may the teaching of the scripture be engraved in our hearts. I adore the commitment of Job “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman “ -Job 31- 1. The book of Proverb 6 – continue to provide the instruction to that of as son watch out from falling into adultery – even while it could be greatly attractive and slippery to fall into. On similar we line we read this advice Paul gives Timothy “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity”.
Yes, these are contra cultural acts- of what it means to be a Godly man- when Boaz took the decision to marry Ruth – he never knew that he would come to the part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. You never know today – what God has planned through your life – for the stand you take as a Godly man. The world outside has a wild image of what Men is – as the bible encourages us – let us not be conformed to standards of this world but to the likeness of Christ. Yes, it not easy- may we fall back and ask God for his grace and ask him to mold us – so that we become to the likeness of Christ.
If you are in that stage of life being single – believe God has a Ruth coming for you! The most important part in this phase is being that “Boaz” – seek first God’s face -in his time and as you wait -God will bring in your life the Ruth – which would definitely be worth the wait. God through this season is molding you out – so that when you would meet “Ruth” – you will be able to appreciate her for who she is! Remember always find your purpose before you find your mate and even if you need to wait longer don’t compromise/settle for anyone who is not for you!
If you are married men believe again through your family life – God has a great picture coming out- you might just see Obed- but through your life – God has a larger story to complete. Don’t be like Cain who replied back to God to question “ where is your brother Abel”-“ Am I my brother’s keeper?”- he replied- let’s be responsible brothers.
Psalms 128 portrays a great picture of the house of Godly men “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table”. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD”- this word gives a glimpse of the beauty and joy in the house of a Godly man.
Today would you accept the call from God to be the Godly Men – as- father, brother, Elder, Friend, husband..?– God is seeking out for you!
Prayer – Lord I ask for your grace to build, transform and make me the Godly men you intended me to be – I confess Lord, I have my own flaws and shortcoming – Lord please work inside of me – that I could truly portray your love and be the witness that you have ordained me to – give the grace each day – help me lord – in Jesus’ name! Amen!
Jobin Sam Varghese