WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
February 2, 2014
Love is powerful. It’s unpredictable. It’s something that can change our lives. And it’s something much more potent than an emotion!
Through this thought-provoking look at the story of Ruth and Boaz, Ed Young shows us how to experience the right relationships. And he reminds us that when it comes to finding the ultimate love, it’s all about getting in the right rhythm!
Good morning! Today we’re opening up a brand new series I’m really, really excited about called, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” What’s love got to do with it? Now we have many different locations here checking out Fellowship Church. We’re one church in many, many, many different locations. Let’s welcome all of our different places right now. We can just cheer a little bit. Since we’re talking about love I’ve invited my man, Greg Fears, Jr. to help us in today’s opening session. We’re gonna have some music behind this romantic series. How do you like that? Oh we can clap better than that, come on now! All right, all right, yeah, yeah. Because, Greg, man, he can just play with it. Feel the flow. I love it. I love it.
We’re talking about a little bit of R&B. Can you do some R&B? That’s the title of today’s message. A little bit of R&B. You know what R&B is? Rhythm and blues. It’s a style of music. A little bit of R&B. Well, we’re gonna put a new spin on R&B. R&B today stands for a couple of characters in the Bible. Ruth and Boaz. A little R&B. Ruth and Boaz. Those are kinda interesting names. Specifically I want to talk to you today about finding the right person for you. You might be going, wait a minute. I’m a parent. I’m a single parent. I’ve been married for 32 years (I’m talking about myself now… 32 years Lisa and I’ve been married). How does this have to do with my life? All of us know people who are single. About half of our church are unmarried and about 90% will get married, and that’s some good news for singles. So we better understand what it means to choose the right person. Within this process when it comes to choosing the right person we can apply this to our marriages, even a marriage for three decades. We can apply it to grandparenting, we can apply it to every age and stage of life. A little bit of R&B. Now this love story, I’ve gotta say, is maybe the greatest love story I’ve ever seen. So against the backdrop of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, against the mindless maze of romance novels and Hallmark channel and Lifetime movies (sometimes I watch those. I’m kinda forced to watch those now and then) we’re gonna talk about a real love story. I’m not saying those aren’t love stories but we’re gonna talk about the real, real deal.
Is it just me or have you ever noticed when you see a chick flick the guys act like girls. Have you noticed that? They’re always serving, they’re always incredible chefs, they’re always taking the trash out without having to be bothered with that. They’re kind and understanding and sweet. It’s kinda funny, isn’t it? They’re always rich. And then if you go see a movie about men, you know, a man’s movie, the girls are always aggressive. They like hunting and fishing and fighting. And they’re always in the mood… always. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? It’s really funny. We’re different. Is that profound or what? A man and a woman, we are definitely different.
Well, let’s go back and let’s look at this R&B because there’s a relational rhythm that we’re gonna get into that God wants us to get into. When we meet the central person of this book, Ruth, she is not in rhythm. She’s singing the blues. She is from a place called Moab. Moab? Yeah, Moab. Moab, if you know your geography, was east of the Dead Sea. Now I’ve been in the Dead Sea before. I’ve swum in the Dead Sea. In fact, you’re not really swimming, you’re floating. You can’t really sink. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea. So I’m here to tell you, if you’re living in Moab relationally speaking, you’re dead. If you make your bed in Moab, if you’re mesmerized by Moab, you’re not gonna discover the greatness God has for you. And Ruth, this icon of the faith, is from Moab. This wheels-off culture. A place that was just nuts. Our culture is kinda going nuts. The last verse in the book of Judges, Judges chapter 17, verse 6, and this was sort of during that time period. It says, “In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Does that sound like our world today or what? Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
Did you watch the Grammy’s? Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. You read, watch the news, everybody is doing what is right in their own eyes. The mantra today is, “you’ve gotta do what’s right for you. Feel your heart. Go with who you are.” Everything is relativistic. There’s no truth, it’s just what’s true for you. And what’s true for you is true for you. What’s true for me is what’s true for me. It sounds so sexy, it sounds so cool. The problem is, it’s ungodly and it doesn’t work. If it worked our culture would be hitting on all cylinders. It doesn’t work. That’s where Ruth found herself.
Her husband had just died, she’s singing the blues. She attaches herself to her mother-in-law, ladies, Naomi. Naomi’s husband had just died as well. Now back in the day when a husband died, I mean if you were a widow, good luck! If you were a widow you were penniless, downtrodden, depressed. It was a bad situation. I’m talking about really, really bad. Well, Naomi decides to go back home. I mean, she’s a home girl. Israel is her home. She’s living in Moab, and she shouldn’t have really been there, but she’s like, “Nah man. I’m going back.” So this girl, Ruth, attaches herself to Naomi and they go all the way back, back, back, back, back, back, to Israel.
Now think about that for a second. That is some serious, serious loyalty. And here’s the first thing, the first beat you’ve got to understand. I want you to write this down. #1 – You’ve got to make the move from Moab. If you’re gonna get into God’s relational harmony, say it with me, you’ve got to what? Make the move from Moab. Because too many people are still dropping the flirt and chasing the skirt in Moab. Have you made the move from Moab? I’ve gotta ask you? Have you made that move, because Ruth left. She left what? She left her customs, she left her past, and she left her gods to follow Naomi and to go to Israel and to follow the God of Israel. Read your Bible… it’s an amazing story!
I mean, here’s this girl. She is a Moabitess and she’s like, “Man! I ain’t got nothin’! I mean, I’m looking around.. what’s the deal? I’m gonna attach myself to Naomi, my mother-in-law, and we’re gonna make the move from Moab. If you’re dating somebody… Hey students, singles, if you’re dating somebody, #1 Have you made the move from Moab? #2, Have they made the move from Moab? Have they made the move from Moab. Have you left your past? Your customs? Your gods? And are you moving toward the Promised Land? Because Israel, we know, is the Promised Land. Have you made the move from Moab or are you still kinda mesmerized by Moab? Are you still making your bed in Moab? Because if you are, relationally, you’re gonna be dead. The Dead Sea. Who wants the Dead Sea? I don’t. So make the move from Moab. That’s what happened.
Here’s the second beat of this rhythm. Greg, I want to hear some rhythm now <Ed beat-boxing>… Hey you know what? I gotta stop him. Let me stop just for a second. Not only can Greg play the keys, he can tear the drums up. Would you like to hear a quick drum solo? Somebody? Somebody. Just go ahead. Watch this. Now, our drummer is great but Greg, I’m telling you man, this guy can kill it. And I want you to think about, again, the rhythm. God’s rhythm. We gotta get that rhythm. For some of us that’s very difficult. All right, just go!
All right, Greg, that’s it, brother! Unbelievable! Awww… that sounds like a golf clap. We’re not at The Masters. That’s what I thought. OK. Make the move from Moab. Have you made the move from Moab? Parents, make sure your kids have made the move. Make sure the people they’re hanging out with have made the move.
#2 – Watch the work. Watch the work. If you’re dating somebody, if you have your eye on somebody, are they working or are they shirking? I mean, do they really work? Ruth comes to town with Naomi. I’m sure social media is just blowing up. “Man, what’s Naomi doing? She’s back. Home-girl’s back. Who is this beautiful girl she has with her? I heard her husband died, too. Man, what’s the problem? What’s the deal?” And here’s what I love. Instead of Naomi and Ruth just sitting there doing nothing… how many people in our culture like to do this? “I’m just gonna sit. I’m just entitled. My family will take care of me. The government will take care of me. Oh yeah, I’m strong enough to work, I can work, but I’m just gonna sit there and just do what I’m gonna do.”
Ruth didn’t do that. This girl from Moab takes initiative. She gets up, doesn’t have jack (I’m tellin’ you it’s a love story. You wait… you wait, ladies. You’re gonna start crying in a second). And she just starts working. It’s harvest time in Israel. So back in the day the welfare system was basically this. You’d have people to cut down the grain, and when some of the grain would drop down behind the trucks, probably a couple of F-250s, those people who were poor would pick up the excess grain and they would take it home and use it, and it would feed them. That was the welfare system. Well, Ruth says, “Naomi, I’m going to work.” So she goes out and she’s gleaning in the fields, picking up the wheat. Guess who is checking her out? Billionaire Boaz. Billionaire Boaz. Big-time Boaz.
Boaz owned all of this property, all of this real estate. And he’s like, “Man, who is that?” Let me stop. You’ve got to relate to someone and ultimately marry someone who catches your eye. You’ve got to say, “Who’s that?” If you don’t say ‘who is that?’ <wa-wa-wow!> it’s not gonna be right. God gave us this chemistry, God gave us this attraction for a reason. Isn’t that good? We have that wooo! Yeah! OK, OK, OK.
So he saw Ruth, saw her gleaning. Bad hair day, baseball cap on, nose running because of all the sinus problems, you know all the stuff in the air, yet he said, “who is that?”
Let me let the Bible unpack it. Ruth chapter 1, verse 16, “Ruth replied (this was right before this thing happened), “Don’t urge me to leave you, Naomi, or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go. (wow!) Where you stay, I will stay. (You want to talk about commitment and loyalty?) Your people will be my people and your God, my God.” So again, as I’m segueing into this next verse. When you say that you’re only going to date and ultimately mate with people who have made the move from Moab, you’re cutting out 70% of the pretenders and saying there’s only 30% of the contenders.
Now, Ruth chapter 2, verses 6-7. “The foreman replied to (billionaire) Boaz,
‘Oh, you mean that hot girl there? Well, she’s the Moabitess who came from Moab with Naomi.’” And Boaz was like,
“Yeah, I heard about that. I saw that on Twitter.”
“She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’” So again, she’s behind all the trucks and everything. And she went into the field. I mean, she’ll do whatever it takes. I love that. I call that the diamond in the jungle theory. All the single people, all the single guys, the diamond in the jungle theory. The woman that you’re thinking about walking down the wedding runner with, she better be happy if she’s dripping with diamonds – I mean diamonds in both nostrils and the ears, belly button, everything. She’s gotta be happy on Rodeo Drive or in Rhodesia. She’s gotta be happy wearing diamonds or in the jungle. If not – get ready we’re gonna have church right now… watch this – if not, you better head for the hills-ah! You betta get outta town! You betta run! You betta say, “I’m not gonna mess with you any more-ah!” If I had half a church…” yeah.
Now some of the places I speak, people’d be on their feet running around, but that’s not us and that’s cool. You gotta be who you are. But Greg, thank you, man. But isn’t true? Isn’t that so true? So what is the work ethic of the person you’re dating.
I’d be lying to you if I said the first thing that attracted me to Lisa was her work ethic. But now I look back and I’m serious. I was a young guy. I saw her at church! Hahaha! It’s a great place to meet somebody. And most people are meeting somebody online these days, which is cool. But I saw her at church and I was like, whoa. But then as I got past, you know, the shine and everything, I watched her work ethic. And it really meant a lot to me. I remember back in the day we went to Florida State together. And I was getting ready to pop the question. I was getting ready to take that step and give the ring. I had the ring and she knew I had the ring, but I got cold feet! I did. And I began to go, whoa, man. I don’t know. This is it. I mean, I love Lisa, this is it. She’s beautiful and I’m going around Florida State. And I’m playing basketball there and 3:1 ratio girls to guys. And I’m going, man, these girls are pretty here. This is it, man. I mean, this is it. Wow. So I started thinking about Lisa has made the Moab. She’s followed the Lord tenaciously and she has an incredible work ethic. I mean, she’ll do anything. She’ll be happy if she’s dripping in diamonds or in the jungle. She’s happy on Rodeo Drive, she’s happy in Rhodesia. So that was one of the big things. I’m just being totally frank here. Because guys, we’re always a little, I’m just telling you ladies, we’re a little commitment-phobic. All of us are. We say, even if we say we’re not, we are. When girls commit, I mean, bam! It’s like with the whole heart. Guys we’re like…. Hmmmm…. It’s OK! We’re guys! We’re not that smart. That’s all right. So I’m just telling you. That’s a good place to clap. I’m just telling you, make sure, make sure the woman that you’re thinking about, or the guy you’re thinking about, is a worker. He doesn’t have this entitlement mentality. “I’ve gotta live in that zip code, drive that kind of car…” Whatever. That’s fine and dandy but they’ve gotta be in love with you. And what is love? Commitment on steroids. That’s what love is. So, Greg, we’re in the rhythm right now, aren’t we? We’ve made the move from Moab, all right?
Secondly, we’ve watched the work. Well, here’s where the love story gets crazy. Ruth is collecting the excess wheat falling off the trucks in Billionaire Boaz’s fields. Boaz sees her… whoa! So then, Ruth is like, well, this guy’s really nice and whatever. She goes back to Naomi and goes,
“Naomi, man, look at this food I brought back. And I met this really nice guy. Multi-billionaire. Big-bucks Boaz.” And Naomi’s like,
She said, “Boaz?! Boaz is your dead husband’s closest relative!” now you gotta put on your thinking cap now. She began to explain to Ruth the Levirate law. And here it is. Don’t miss this. This is for Hallmark. This is for Sandra Brown. This is for, I don’t know, Matthew McConnaughey and Jennifer Aniston. This is it, right here. The Levirate law stated the nearest male relative to the deceased husband had the option to marry the widow to further the family name and to take care of everything, and to redeem everything in the situation. So all of a sudden, Naomi is like,
“Oh girl! You hit the jackpot! He’s Godly and wealthy. Unbelievable! Boaz! Boaz! This is unbelievable! Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!” People say, “Well, it was just serendipitous, well it just happened. Our paths just crossed.” No, no, no, no, no. If you’ve made the move from Moab, if you’re following the Lord, nothing happens by chance. Nothing. No relationship happens by chance. We might not take advantage of it but it’s not there by chance.
“Oh it’s just by chance I met you. Just by chance we’re …” No, no, no, no! Everything happens, God is orchestrating it. We either respond or not. And here’s what I love about our girl, Ruth. Here’s the truth about Ruth. She was a risk-taker. And once she heard about that law… I mean, Boaz didn’t know everything about it. She was like,
“Well what do I need to do?” And Naomi said,
“Tonight, Boaz is gonna be on the threshing floor.” Now the threshing floor is you take wheat and just crush it <pounding> and you separate the wheat, the stuff that you eat, from the chaff, the stuff that just floats away in the wind. It’s nothing. You separate that. You’ve got to crush it, and then when you crush it, it separates.
So often what happens? God allows us to be crushed (somebody help me) to separate the wheat from the chaff. So often you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t really know what the deal is until you’ve been crushed. And then when you’ve been crushed, turn around and if you see wheat, that’s the real deal.
That’s been one of the things too, another thing I’d say about dating. I mean, you go through a tough time, you’re betrayed. You’re crushed. Turn around. Is she still there? Is he still there? I mean that’s huge. But if you have to chase them down… “Oh come back… boo-hoo-hoo!” Uh-uh. Uh-uh.
So, going back to the story. Naomi says,
“Ruth, if you sneak into the threshing floor, Boaz will be sleeping there because he doesn’t want anybody to steal his wheat. And he’s gonna thresh too. If you’ll lie down at his feet (now don’t read here that they were having sex because they protected their purity. That’s another beat we’ll get into in a second) but she said when you do that, Boaz will know this Levirate thing is happening.
So she puts on her best cologne, her best outfit, and she sneaks into the threshing floor. All these guys… <snoring sounds> and she finds Boaz. She sleeps at his feet <sniff-sniff>… “Something smells good!” He looks up and there she is. Wha!!! Incredible! Here’s Billionaire Boaz, single, and this hot lady is sleeping at his feet.
Now let me stop. Another part of this relational rhythm is you’ve got to protect the purity. Protect the purity. He did it God’s way. He could have slept with her easy. He had homes all over the place. No big deal, you know? And she came from a very ungodly environment. But they said, you know what, we’re gonna trust you, God. And we have to trust God with the totality of who we are, even our sexuality. You gotta trust him. God knows. I like that…. Doom-doom-doom.. because it gets quiet when you talk about sex. That’s OK.
So, Boaz saw it and he says, “Man, I’ve had my eye on you. Let’s do this deal. I love the Levirate law, ad you’ve taken the risk to sleep at my feet. This is like a romantic comedy on steroids. This is unbelievable. God definitely has a sense of humor.” But then he goes, “oh no!” Every time you’re watching the Hallmark channel, every movie it always happens. Every movie it always happens. Every book it always happens. What happens? Guy and girl, they meet. Their paths cross. They fall in love. And you think they’re gonna get married and all of a sudden – wah-wah-wah….. some problem happens, a misunderstanding, whatever. And then they’re, “Oh no!” They’re apart and then he chases her down and he wins her love, and they live happily ever after. Every one of them’s the same. The chase.
Well, Boaz goes, “Ruth, this is horrible but I’m not the closest relative. There’s some idiot (no, he didn’t say idiot, I just said that), there’s some loser downtown who is closer to your deceased husband than me.” But he says, “I will take care of it.” So, ladies, how romantic. When he said that, that morning, he downs a couple of shots of espresso, goes to the city gate. He wheels and deals and tells this guys,
“Man, do you really? Do you want to redeem this girl? She doesn’t look that good anyway, kinda homely…” No he didn’t. I’m just saying, I’m just making this up. But he probably did. He just wheels and deals. He was a great businessman, great business guy. And the guy goes,
“Yeah, I’ll take the land but I don’t know about the woman.” Boaz goes,
“Well, hey. If you take the land you’ve gotta have the woman.” And the guy goes,
“Well I don’t want it!” So Boaz says,
“Well, I will take her.” So he (is this romantic, ladies?) redeems Ruth. Multibillionaire redeems Ruth. That’s romantic. And of course they live happily ever after.
OK, how many times have you made decisions in your life and you’re like, oh this seems so insignificant. It doesn’t seem like a big deal. Yeah, I’ve made the move from Moab and I’m working for the things of God, and I’m a loyal friend and I’m trying and I’m protecting the purity that I have. And then as you get older and you look back and you go, “Oh. My. Goodness! Whoa! I had no idea! That was awesome! That little decision was crazy good!” Well, check this out. Once we get to eternity we’ll look back on our lives in eternity and we’ll be like, “What?!? <laughter> this is crazy!” Romantic comedy. We’re gonna be laughing with God. This is nuts.
OK, why did I say that? Guess who was related? Guess who was the grandmother of King David? Ruth. And she was the great-great-great-great-great grandmother of… he’s from Bethlehem… born in a manger… Jesus, who is our redeemer. Boaz was called the kinsman redeemer. Who is our redeemer?
Well, we’re in Moab. We have nothing to offer him. God sent Jesus to be our kinsman redeemer. We risk everything by saying, “Lord, I give it to you. I bow at your feet.” We take a step of faith. When we do, what happens? We’re redeemed. We’re a part of God’s family. And we can tap into his inheritance forever and ever and ever. That’s a great place to clap right there. I want to clap myself for that! So see, on one level this is a love story that’s cool and hot and very 2014, but on another level, the subplot is even more significant. Because Boaz is a picture of Jesus. God’s relational rhythm. Make the move. Watch the work. Obviously you need to look for loyalty. And protect the purity.
Last question. What’s love got to do with it? Maybe you didn’t hear me. What’s love got to do with it? Let me say it once again. What’s love got to do with it? Everything.
As our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, let’s just thank him for being our redeemer. Let’s just thank him for being our savior. Our lover. Our friend.
[Ed closes in prayer.]