Love this song. When I told Sue we were doing this series she
said, “Oh, you’ve got to use this song” and played it for me.
WE WENT DANCING IN THE MINEFIELDS
WE WENT SAILING IN THE STORMS
AND IT WAS HARDER THAN WE DREAMED
BUT I BELIEVE THAT’S WHAT THE PROMISE IS FOR
Isn’t it the truth? If standing at the altar we had known how hard a great
marriage would be, we might have run away! At times it is very hard
work. And at times it is very easy. But regardless, it is worth every bit of
effort you put into it. Because in the end, WHAT WE WORK HARDEST
AT IN LIFE IS WHAT WE CHERISH MOST
But despite the hard work, truth is, none of us measure up to our
own expectations of what it takes to be a great husband or a great wife.
And certainly we fall short of the expectations of our spouse. And so, the
principle I want us to get this morning is this: RELATIONSHIPS,
PARTICULARLY MARRIAGE, CAN ONLY SURVIVE WITH LARGE
AMOUNTS OF GRACE
Ruth 2 2nd in a series of 4 messages based on the love story
found in the book of Ruth. The 2 main characters are Ruth and Boaz.
Last week we saw the faithfulness of Ruth to stick with her mother in law
Naomi, even when she had every reason not to. The take-away last
week was: IN EVERY RELATIONSHIP, PARTICULARLY MARRIAGE,
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THOSE IN THE RELATIONSHIP MUST BE
FAITHFUL, REGARDLESS OF THE CHALLENGE.
And this morning we’re going to see Ruth’s faithfulness continue
as she works to provide for herself and her mother in law. But something
beside hard work must be present in a marriage: there has to be
generous portions of grace.
Grace, what a concept. In the OT, the Hebrew word most
associated with it is CHEN: THE IDEA FAVOR. In the NT, the Greek
word is CHARIS: IN CONTRAST TO DEBT; UNMERITED FAVOR The
concept begins on the early pages of Scripture when God graciously
dealt with Adam and Eve after the Fall, and finds it’s deepest, richest
expression on the cross. Because we could not climb the heights of
moral perfection demanded by God, He reached down to humanity
through His Son, Jesus the Messiah. ROMANS 3:24 promises, that we
“ARE JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE
REDEMPTION THAT CAME BY CHRIST JESUS.”
It is this unmerited favor that must be found in generous
quantities in marriages if they are to last and flourish. Our story today
reminds us that:
GOD IS THE GOD OF GRACE. 2:1-3 (ON SCREEN)
When the Israelites moved into the promised land, God
established a system of grace. “WHEN YOU REAP THE HARVEST OF
YOUR LAND, DO NOT REAP TO THE VERY EDGES OF YOUR FIELD
OR GATHER THE GLEANINGS OF YOUR HARVEST. DO NOT GO
OVER YOUR VINEYARD A SECOND TIME OR PICK UP THE
GRAPES THAT HAVE FALLEN. LEAVE THEM FOR THE POOR AND
THE ALIEN. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD.” LEVITICUS 19:9-10
This notion of grace is all the way through the OT. In Leviticus
25 God decreed that there was to be a year of Jubilee every 50th year. In
that year, if your debts had been so great that you had sold yourself to
be a slave to your debtor, the debtor would have to set you free and
absolve your debts. In that 50th year, if your family had sometime in the
past had to sell your land to pay some debts, the land would be given
back to you.
This was all done so that if you had messed up, or your
ancestors had messed up, you could get back on your feet and & no
longer have to live under the weight of your debt. So that you would no
longer have to live under the weight of your debt.
The Israelites had forgotten this by the time the prophet Isaiah
came on the scene centuries later and he reminded them of the Year of
Jubilee; reminded them that God was a God of grace and His people
were to be people of grace.
Seven centuries after Isaiah, when Jesus begins his public
ministry, He goes to His home town, Nazareth, walks in the synagogue
there, and that is the passage that He chose to read was out of Isaiah, a
passage that would characterize His life and very purpose for being
there: “THE SPIRIT OF THE SOVEREIGN LORD IS ON ME,
BECAUSE THE LORD HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH GOOD
NEWS TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO BIND UP THE
TO PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE
AND RELEASE FROM DARKNESS FOR THE
PRISONERS, TO PROCLAIM THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR.”
Grace. The Lord’s favor. So it is in this provision of grace that
Ruth goes out to glean in the fields. God is the God of grace. He is the
source of grace. Now here’s the question: IF GOD HAS SHOWN
FAVOR TOWARD YOU SO THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE UNDER
THE WEIGHT OF YOUR DEBT, YOUR MISTAKES, YOUR
IMPERFECTIONS, THEN WHY CAN’T YOU EXTEND GRACE TO
Friends of ours grew up in the church and have a fine house,
sweet kids, and good jobs. But the wife has an emotional/mental
problem. She periodically steals from her own family and gambles the
She's been to counselors, doctors, and pastors, but nothing
helps permanently. Imagine your own wife stealing from you, pawning
objects of value, withdrawing money from bank accounts intentionally
(but not infallibly) denied her, and lying about it for months.
Every time she's stolen from her husband and ruined his future,
he's forgiven her and taken her back. Even when she gave up on her
own life and tried to kill herself, he refused to give up on her.
I asked this husband once why he didn't end this marriage, in
spite of pressure from many friends and family to do so. His words were
courageous and simple: "She is a good mother most of the time, and my
children need her. But more than that, they need to know the love of their
God. How can they know of a Father in heaven who forgives them if their
own father won't forgive their own mother?"
GRACE COMES TO THE HUMBLE. 2:4-13 (ON SCREEN)
v.5 In other words, Who is that good looking woman over there.
v. 7 Notice that she doesn’t demand, she humbles herself and
asks, “Please let me glean.” ….. She’s a hard-working woman, oozing
v.8-9 Now Boaz shows his character and his interest. He wants
to protect her and he wants to provide for her. This is a great man. V.1
says that Boaz was a man of good reputation and good character.
v.10 Here is Ruth’s humility at work again. “Why have you
shown favor to me? I don’t deserve this.” There is that word ‘favor’
again. She doesn’t expect or demand it. Grace cannot be demanded.
She is not an employee so as to expect a wage. She needs grace. And
it is grace that she receives from this gracious man.
v.12 Truth from last week:God rewards faithfulness. Always has,
Ruth’s faithfulness, Ruth’s humility, places her in a position to
experience extraordinary grace. And Boaz--the more he sees her
humility, the more grace he wants to extend to her. This is another
principle evident in all healthy love relation-ships: HUMILITY BY ONE
PARTNER CALLS FOR A RESPONSE OF GRACE FROM THE
Notice I said healthy love relationships. Unfortunately, many
marriages today operate with the twin death principles of pride and
vengeance. If one partner does something wrong, he/she has a hard
time admitting it and asking forgiveness. And the partner who is hurt
responds by trying to hurt the other.
What happens in a marriage is one or both of the partners end
up forgiving part of the offenses, but can’t let go of all of them. They
store them in a closet so they can use them in the future. That way
when they do something wrong, we can go to the closet and grab one of
em and beat the snot out of them: “You say you’re sorry, but you keep
doing it. I remember last time…” Folks, that never helps change
behavior. It’s prideful and vengeful. And both sexes do it with great
Amy Sutherland, in an article in the New York Times called,
"What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage." After 12 years of
marriage, she became dismayed that her husband still exhibited several
irritating habits. She writes:
“These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and
divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted--
needed—to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate
who might annoy me a little less, a mate who would be easier to love.
I set about trying to improve him. By nagging, of course, which
only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave
less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the
bedroom floor longer than ever.
A breakthrough came when I began traveling to a school for
exotic animal trainers in California to do research for a book I wanted to
write: I listened, rapt, as professional trainers explained how they taught
dolphins to flip and elephants to paint. Eventually it hit me that the same
techniques might work on that stubborn but loveable species, the
The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I
should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you
don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging.
The same goes for the American husband.
Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt
into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step
over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did
sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my
appreciation, the piles became smaller.
GRACE IS THE FUEL OF LOVE 2:14-23 (ON SCREEN)
v. 14 come over here little chickadee!
v.15 Because she was a foreigner and a woman, she was
vulnerable to the attacks of unscrupulous men.
v.17 ephah about half a bushel
v.19 worked with…interesting choice of words, don’t you think?
You can tell there is chemistry between these two from the very
v.20 kinsmen redeemers Remember, a kinsman redeemer was
the next of kin who had some obligation to marry a widower to provide
for her and to continue the family line.
Do you see this couple falling in love? It all centers around
grace! God had set grace in motion by getting Naomi and Ruth to
Bethlehem safely and initiating a system that provided for the 2 widows.
Ruth was gracious toward her mother in law by staying with her &
serving her. Boaz was kind & gracious toward Ruth
Folks, relationships cannot survive without grace. And grace is
the fuel of love. The song of grace must be sung loud and clear in
relationships, particularly marriage. When I’m a fool and an idiot, and
Sue extends grace to me, which she always does, it makes me love her
more. I don’t deserve her grace. With incredible skill, I can be a fool and
an idiot simultaneously. And although her initial response may be one of
pride and vengeance, she always, always extends grace to me. Ah, the
song of grace.
CALL BAND x 224
One last word here. Isn’t it amazing that of all the fields of all the
landowners in the area, Ruth ends up in the field of this great man,
Boaz? She didn’t realize what was happening, but God was directing
her steps all along the way. Married folks, it’s no accident that you
ended up together. You might think you didn’t know what the heck you
were doing when you got married, but it was no accident. One young
man came to me and said, “I am doubting whether this was God’s will for
me. What should I do? “ I said to him, “Regardless of the circumstances
that brought you together, once you said “I do”, it is absolutely God’s will
for you to stay together for life.” He took my advice, moved forward in
the grace of God, and years later, has a fantastic marriage.