Craig Groeschel - 4 Signs You Might Have a Keeper
We are continuing in our message series through the Book of Ruth. And today we're gonna watch as Boaz and Ruth actually start to get to know each other, start to date and date in a way that will prepare them for a marriage that will honor God. So we're gonna talk about dating, we're talking about marriage. I wanna start with dating. How many of you would agree that dating can be kinda awkward? Raise your hands. It can be kind of awkward. Those of you online, you can type in the comment section. Dating can be kind of awkward. It's a little bit like a job interview, right? You're going on a job interview and you're not sure what to wear. You're not sure what to say.
Maybe the most difficult part about the date for me always was like, how do you end it? What do you do? You don't want to shake hands. Do you knuckle bump? Do you do the Christian side hug? Do you kiss 'em on the cheek? Do you go for the tonsil hockey on the first date? You don't go for tonsil hockey on the first date. How do you end the date, it can be kind of awkward. My first date was at a movie, which is not a good place for a first date with a girl that was taller than me because at that age every girl was taller than me. And my sole goal was to get my arm around her. That was the big win. And I did the whole like 1, 2, 3 count and chickened out. I did the whole go get popcorn, slide in, give her the popcorn technique and chickened out. The movie was almost over.
So I just did the Hail Mary, I just went now and I went through my arm. I hit her in the nose with my elbow, her head went back, it came forward, she was bleeding. True story, her nose was bleeding. So I ran to the bathroom, got some toilet paper and I came back in and I did the comfort, then wipe the bloody nose slide. Put your arm around technique. A win is a win. Sometimes you gotta do it the way you gotta do it. I'm glad you clapped 'cause I never had a second date. Dating can be awkward, right? And back when I used to date, it was really awkward 'cause you actually had to talk to people like face to face, or on the phone. You know, you couldn't just do it all online, you actually had to talk. And so there is the ability to online date now. And sometimes people say, "Craig as a pastor, do you like online dating"?
And so I get asked so often I say that I've seen many, many times God bring great couples together through online dating. I think it can be a very, very good thing. If there's any type of a downside, it might be that it trains us almost to commoditize people. Is that a word? To treat them like a commodity. Like this is the type of person I'm shopping for, which can be almost degrading. And I know that it's wise to know what you want. Ladies, you know, you don't ask for much. You just want a guy that's attractive and funny and driven and has a good job and is strong yet sensitive and handsome yet humble and shares his dessert but goes to the gym and likes dancing in the rain and loves "The Notebook" and wears socks with your face on them. That's what you want. Not, not much. You've never seen socks with the girl's face on it?
I've actually got. it's a thing and I'm not sure Amy likes those, but I like Amy. And so sometimes I wear socks with her face on it. Where are we going all this. Are we gonna get anywhere today? We are. We're gonna continue our study through the Old Testament Book of Ruth. And to bring you up to speed if you missed out, we're looking at a Moabite woman that left Moab for Bethlehem and she got completely transformed and started worshiping the God of Israel. And this week what we're gonna do is we're gonna watch as Ruth, who's a widow, gets to know Boaz, who is a man of standing. His name means strong, he is a man of integrity. And we're gonna watch them get to know each other and see principles that will help you date wisely. And will strengthen any marriages.
I want you to enjoy this week. I really want you to dive in and enjoy this week because this week is practical and this week is helpful and next week I gotta warn you, it just gets weird. I mean it gets all weird up in here next week. You don't wanna miss next week 'cause I'm gonna teach very directly what gets really weird in the Bible. The Bible doesn't hold back and I just need to warn you, it's gonna get strange next week. Principle for today is this: We all are shopping for the type of person we want. I would suggest that instead of just looking for what you want to get from someone, I would suggest that you look at what you want to give someone. Why is this so important? Because you don't just attract what you want, you tend to attract what you are.
We're gonna see that play out today in the Book of Ruth. And we're gonna look at four signs that you might have a keeper, four signs that you might have a keeper. Boaz is checking Ruth out and we're gonna see four things happen. The first thing that we're gonna see is this. We're gonna see that he is actually seeking character. We're gonna see that they are exploring connection. We're gonna see that they are showing consideration and they are receiving confirmation. I hope you see the four Cs. It's always more anointed when the preacher brings points with letters that are the same throughout the text. They are, thank you. They're seeking character, exploring connection, showing consideration and receiving confirmation. And I wanna break these down one by one. But first let's make sure we understand the context. Boaz, who is a land owner, he is a lover of God, he is a good leader, he is very kind and he's generous to Ruth and she's a little bit surprised. She's taken aback and she's wondering, why are you being so kind to me?
Verse 10 of Ruth 2 says this: After this Ruth, she bowed down with her face to the ground and she asked him, "Boaz, why have I found such favor in your eyes that you take notice of me, a foreigner"? You can almost see she might be a little bit insecure. And what I love about this text is there is no mention of her physical appearance. Boaz isn't focusing on what's on her outside. But way more important he's looking at what's on her inside. And we're gonna see the first thing he does is he's highlighting who she is as a person because he is seeking character. Watch how he replies. Well why me? She says. And Boes replied, "I've been told all about" essentially your character, "all about what you've done for your mother-in-law, Naomi, since the death of your husband, how you left your father and mother and your homeland, and you came to live with a people that you did not know before".
What's he saying? He's saying, I heard that you stopped worshiping the false God Chemosh and you left Moab and you came and you turned to the one true God and worshiped him. And that you were loyal to your mother-in-law when that other girl or Orpah wasn't and went back. And that you're not a victim, meaning you're not sitting back going, someone take care of me. You're not looking for a handout, but you got up early, you showed up to the field, you started to work, you were gleaning in the field and you didn't do what many women feel tempted to do when they have no other options. They tend to sell their body in order to meet their needs. You didn't do that. You have godly character. I would ask you this very, very serious question. Are you a person of character? Are you a person with growing spiritual character? And I'm not talking about like, yeah, yeah, I'm a Christian 'cause you know, I'm grew up in the United States of America and I'm not a Muslim or a Buddhist or something else.
Yeah, I kinda believe in God, I'm a Christian. No, do you have true character? Are you a genuine disciple, a follower of Jesus? Because I've met a few people that will bar hop on Saturday and come to church on Sunday. I've met a few people who in the dating will go from bed to bed to bed to bed to bed to bed, asking God to bless them along the way. Are you a person of spiritual character? Why does this matter? It matters because you don't build a life of righteousness on a foundation of sin. That's right.
If you want a godly marriage in the future, it's really wise to seek God and live a godly life today. Are you a person of spiritual character? What does that mean? Well, it means a lotta things. Are you seeking to know God in his Word? You're studying to his Word and letting it change you. Are you a person that doesn't just go to church or just watch a video online, but you're actually serving in the church and as the church? I mean, it's like how do you live, do you tell the truth in conversations? Do you treat people with honor and with integrity? Are you being conformed to the image of Christ? In other words, you look more like Jesus, you behave more like, you love more like Jesus today than you did a few months ago. It doesn't mean that you're perfect at all.
My gosh, I'm not perfect. But you're being perfected and changed by the presence of God who is active in your life daily because you're seeking him daily. Are you a person of character? If you want a godly marriage, you wanna have a godly character and you wanna seek character. So if you are dating and it's complicated and you meet someone, I would say pay really close attention. What are you looking for? If we can be practical for just a moment. You're looking at their friends. What are their friends like? Are their friends, the majority of them pursuing Jesus? 'Cause you tend to be like those that you run with. How do they treat their family? How does he talk about his mom? Okay, how do they treat people that serve them? You go to a restaurant, are they kind to the waiters and waitresses? Are they arrogant and entitled? Does she have a work ethic? Does he take initiative?
In other words, if they are jerks to everyone else, if they have no quality friends, if they're critical of everyone else and they're always a victim and they push you sexually and they distract you from God, these are not signs of Godly character. And I would say right now for some of you, if you're with someone and you're seeing things that are not pleasing to God, someone said this, when a person shows you who they really are, believe them. Believe them. The way people are living is a reflection of what they believe. What we believe determines how we behave. Let's be a person of godly character and seek people with godly character. So if you're dating someone and they're not helping you get closer to Jesus, and let's say they're taking you away from Jesus, you might want to get the heck out of Moab because God has something better in Bethlehem. That's good. Amen. I know that made some of you mad, but 1/3 of you clapped.
So we'll go with that. Alright? So, some of you like hate me now. Ah, you're messing my don't deal with my relationship. Okay. Boaz he's a man of standing. He's a man of character. And he notices Ruth's character. The next thing we see is that they're actually exploring to see if there is a connection. They're exploring connection. What we don't see is what's kind of normal today. Boaz doesn't slide up in her DMs and say, "'Sup! Want to come over and watch some Netflix and chill"? We don't see that. What he does is he actually invites her on a date in a sense. He says, do you wanna have lunch? And it's actually not even a private lunch. They're in a place where everybody's gonna feel comfortable and they're actually gonna get to know each other. We see it in verse 14. And this is what the text says: At mealtime Boaz said, "Hey, hey, why don't you come on over here and let's have some lunch together, have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar".
And so when she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. And I like this. She ate all she wanted and she had some leftover. I don't know, she might've done the whole, all I want is a salad and has some leftover thing. I don't know. Or maybe she just ate all she wanted and she had some leftover. What we do know about Ruth is that she doesn't do what a lot of women tend to do. Notice what she doesn't do is she doesn't move too fast. She doesn't say thanks for the salad. And by the way, what are you looking for in a wife? How many kids do you want? And what do you wanna name them? Notice what they're not doing on this first date. They're not making out. They're not fooling around. They're not playing naked Twister, right? You know what I'm saying? Right hand green, left whatever. Maybe you didn't play Twister.
Okay, they're not doing that. Somebody like, what is that? I don't even know. Where'd that come from? Who knows? Just pray for your pastor. We will get through this together. Don't quit on me now. They're not fooling around, they're getting to know each other. They're making a connection. And ladies, what you want is you want a man who will initiate, you want one who will put out some effort. Next week we'll actually show that you may have to help him along sometimes and that's okay 'cause we're in secret. But that's next week. We'll wait 'til next week. But you want someone who put out some effort to pursue you. Not your body, but you. My eyes are up here, right? You want someone who's gonna pursue you. Put in a little work. Now, my first date with Amy, I got all into the whole thing. I created a mix tape. Yes. Now for those of you that don't know what a mixtape is, A mixtape is next to godliness.
Now, back in the day, back in the day before you could just listen to whatever song you want for $7.99 a month, you actually had to pay for music or have a boombox and wait for hours listening to the radio until your song came on. And as fast as you can, press, play and record and record the song, then you'd have to take the song from one cassette tape. You had to have a double cassette boombox and put it in one and put it on the other. And you could make, it would take hours upon hours, upon hours, upon hours, upon hours to prayerfully create the right mixtape to set the tone for a six kid marriage. Amen! And so I picked Amy up, I took her to my Honda Accord, the biblical car, because all the disciples gathered in one... Accord! Thank you. And I put her in the car and I said, "Let's pray together". And she said, "Okay".
And so I grabbed her hand. Within three minutes, I'm already holding hands, praying to God to bless our relationship. And I hit play. And a Christian song came on, followed by a Christian, 'cause we put Jesus, we're followed by a Christian song, followed by a Christian song, the Holy Trinity, establishing three Christian songs, followed by some Air Supply, a love song, followed by a Christian song, Christian song, Lionel Richie, Air Supply, Christian song, love song, love song, love song, love song. Founded on Christ, driven by love. 'Cause the greatest of these is love. I made a mixtape... Let's go! Took her to her Bible study oddly enough, because she had a Bible study.
And then we went to my Bible study oddly enough, 'cause I had a Bible study. And you don't have to be that spiritual. You don't have to do that. We just happened to do that. And we were getting to know each other, getting to know what was valuable to each other and pursuing one another and just making a real connection. What are you gonna do? You're gonna seek godly character, you're gonna explore the connection along the way. And then we're gonna watch as they are showing consideration one to another. We see this in verse 15, scripture says this, the Bible says that she got up to glean. So she's working in the field and Boaz gave orders to his men. "Let her gather among the sheaves and don't reprimand her, even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up and don't rebuke her".
Well what do we know? We know that according to the Levitical law, they would have to leave behind whatever fell on the ground. So someone who's a widow or someone who's an outcast or someone who is poor could come along and glean it and they could take it. And what he's doing is he's literally guarding her dignity. He's letting her work. She came to work for food and he's letting her work. He's not gonna give her a handout, but he's saying, hey guys, make it easy on her. Give her a little extra. He's going out of his way to bless her. You know, according to the law, he had to give her what was there. But he's going beyond that. He didn't just do what the law requires. He is blessing her with so much more. In verse 17, we read this that Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley that she had gathered and it amounted to about an ephah. What's an ephah?
Let me tell you what an ephah is. In the Hebrew that means a lotta barley. That's what it means. And ephah was two weeks wages. She worked for a day, but he was so generous, he just kind of like on a Easter egg hunt, like for your grandkids, you just put 'em everywhere. That's kind of what he did. He put so much everywhere that after one day's work, she got an ephah, two weeks wages. He blessed her with more than she ever expected. And that's why I would just say, when you're dating, I would encourage you, don't settle. Don't settle for whoever's there. Settle for someone who puts out some effort. Seek someone who puts out some effort. We don't want just someone who just meets our expectations. It's amazing when sometimes they would exceed them. Amy did this for me.
When we met, I had two jobs. I had a full-time job in sales and I was the single adult pastor at First United Methodist Church. And I was so busy that she noticed sometimes I didn't eat. I mean, every now and then I'd go to Taco Mayo, 29 cent taco. On a splurge day it'd be Taco Bueno 'cause that was blowing it out and going big time. But I'd be so busy that I wouldn't eat. And she was worried about me 'cause I was losing weight. Well we were just dating and I didn't ask her to do this, but she went to the grocery store and when I was at work, she came in and she completely filled my refrigerator all the way up on her own, exceeded my expectations. And I proposed to her on the spot, "Will you marry me right now"? I mean this was like, it's just crazy. I didn't ask her to do that. She didn't have hardly any money. She just went and blessed me like crazy. And that's why you want someone who will exceed your expectations.
So gentlemen, you wanna put some thought into a date. Clean your dang car. Take your big Mac wrapper out of her seat so she doesn't wear it for the rest of her night when she gets out. Ladies, you want someone who might bring a thoughtful gift. It doesn't have to be expensive. He may just pick a flower on the side of the road, like I picked this for you and takes you at least one time to a restaurant that doesn't have a drive through and sits down and asks you questions and gets to know you and walks you to the door and protects your heart, protects your purity, honors you and values you. Guys, if you want a Ruth, be a Boaz, be a giver, be generous. Put some effort into it. Because you don't just attract what you want, you tend to attract what you are.
So he's seeking character, they're looking for a connection. There's consideration. Then what I like is they actually are receiving confirmation. They're receiving confirmation. So Ruth comes home to her mother-in-law and she's got this ephah, this mother load of grain. And she says, "Naomi, look what I got". And her mother-in-law asks her this. Her mother-in-law says, "Hey, where'd you glean today? Where'd you work? Blessed is the man who took notice of you". Whoever that guy is, I like him. Whoever did this, he's a good, honorable, godly man. And what we know about Naomi is she loved Ruth. If you remember in chapter one she prayed God send her a godly man, provide for her a husband. And so this person who loves her, that she can trust, is actually confirming that this is potentially a good candidate.
That's why it's always a good sign when those who love you the most, like who you like. When those that love you the most, that are really good people that you trust when they say, "Hey, I see potential in her. Hey, I see potential in him". When the people that you trust the most and love you the most, confirm it, that is really a good sign. I'll let you in on a little secret. Our family, you know we have six kids then we got like three son-in-laws going on another one getting married and bunch of grandkids and they're popping out every day. So, but it is a stupid close tribe. I mean we got strong family culture.
So to get in, you don't just have to win one person, you gotta win the family. And so we have this thing that we've never even talked about with our kids and no one knows about this, but Amy and me and all the rest of you, 'cause I'm about to tell you. But we just call it the family dinner test. At a family dinner, there's 22, 25 people there. And when someone new who likes a Groeschel kid comes, we've never talked about it but everybody there just kinda knows. We're watching to see how this person does. And what we're looking for is do they mix well with the entire family? Do they engage in conversations? Do they contribute? Do they just leave their dish there? Do they carry it over? Are they polite? Are they grateful?
Whenever there is potential in a person, there's kinda like this collective confirmation, everybody goes, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then when it's not, they're going, hmm hmm hmm, hmm hmm. And hopefully you're gonna have some version of this in your own life. Doesn't have to be a massive family, but it could be a life group or it could be two or three friends, or it could be a mentor or someone, it could be a prayer partner. And you have this Christian community of people that you trust spiritually, you trust them. And when they like someone, that's a really good sign. It's confirmation. And when they don't like someone, I encourage you to listen. And you're gonna say, but I love him. He's got so much potential. You don't know her like I know her.
I'm gonna say, please be careful to be careful when everyone else that you really trust doesn't like someone. Especially when you're engaged in premarital sex. Can we go there for just a second? Because the Bible is really, really clear that sex is a gift from God reserved for the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. And Proverbs 5 tells us that sex is intoxicating. It's in your Bible. You should read the Bible. So if sex is intoxicating, if you're having premarital sex, you're drunk. And when you're drunk, people look better than they really are. So some of you, you're drunk on sex and you need to sober up. If your mama doesn't like him and your dad doesn't like him and your brother doesn't like him and your best friend doesn't like him and your life group doesn't like him and your dog doesn't like him, it's most likely you're not receiving the confirmation from the trusted people that you want in your life.
So what do we see? Naomi says, I like what I see. There's some confirmation. So Ruth shows up sweaty for her first date. She's not looking her best. Her hair is nothing but a mess and she smells like the funk. She'd been working all day in the sun, but he's not looking at just what's on the outside, but he sees her character and he likes what he sees and he gets to know her and he likes who he gets to know. And they show consideration for each other. And there starts to be confirmation around. So what if you're dating right now and you don't have these qualities? Or what if you're married right now and you're looking going, my marriage is not where it should be or could be, or probably where God wants it to be. I wanna let the text help us answer this question and we'll spend even more time on this next week. But Ruth comes in and tells Naomi. Naomi says, who is this guy that did this? And she says, his name is Boaz, Boaz. And Naomi was like Boaz, he's relative of ours! And verse 20 says, he's one of our guardian-redeemers.
What is a guardian-redeemer? Other versions say he's a kinsman redeemer. This is one of the big themes in the book of Ruth and we're gonna spend more time in the weeks to come, but it's a metaphor. The guardian-redeemer, this is the person, this is the relative whose role, who chooses to come in and provide for someone who's had significant loss. A family member loses a spouse and the widow has no means to provide for herself. So the guardian-redeemer protects her and provides for her and honors her and takes care of her. What's crazy is that legally Boaz is not obligated to be her guardian-redeemer. He's not nearly the closest relative at all. He's not a Elimelech's brother who would've been the one who was supposed to do it. And Ruth's not even an Israelite, he doesn't owe her anything, not a thing. He doesn't owe her a thing. And yet he chooses to give her everything.
This is not just the law, this is grace. And in the New Testament we have a guardian-redeemer and his name is Jesus. He is the living Son of God who protects us, provides for us, paid the debt for the forgiveness of our sins and meets all of our needs. He is the one who works in all things, even in your broken relationship, even in your struggling marriage. He is the one that when you call on him and when you seek him, he will always be found by you. And he is so good in his providential power, he's working in all things to bring about good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Do you love him? Are you his disciple? He takes what's broken, our guardian-redeemer and he makes things new. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, doesn't matter what you've done. Doesn't matter what you're doing right now. Doesn't matter how dark or sinful your life is. Anyone who is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old is gone and the new comes.
It doesn't matter how jacked up your dating relationship is, it doesn't matter how screwed up your marriage is, when you call, both of you, on Jesus he can redeem, he can renew. All things are possible with him, but it takes both pursuing him. And I want you to hear this. I want you to feel this because I know there is so much pain out there right now. I know some of you are barely even able to hear this message like, good for you Craig, you and Amy go do your thing. Play your tonsil hockey and play your Twister. Okay? I know there's so much pain, but I want you to hear this. There is no sin too great for God's grace. There is no marriage too broken for God's healing. And there is no relationship beyond God's redemption when two people will seek one God. You say, well I can't make her do it. I can't make him do it. You can't. But you can do what you can do.
So if you're dating and it's jacked up, what do you do? You got some options. If it's not going where you can end it or you can seek God to help fix it. If you're in a marriage, you can't change him, you can't change her. But you can seek God and you can be a person of character and you can pray and fast and believe and you can do everything possible within your will to live at peace with everyone and trust God to do what only he can do. No matter where you are I want you to hear it and feel it. Jesus is our guardian-redeemer and he is here right now. He loves you, he's for you. And he's working in all things to bring about good to those who love him. Do you love him? Because he loves you.
Father, help us to know you and to put you first in the all that we do.
As you're reflecting and praying today at all of our churches, I'm curious, how many of you need prayer for a relationship? Don't raise your hand just yet, but I wanna talk to you for a minute. It may be you wanna pray for your mom and dad's marriage. It may be a couple in your life group. It may be a friend, I'm praying for, I'm praying for a friend's marriage. It may be your marriage. You're praying for healing in your marriage. It may be you, like you're not married right now and you hope to have a godly spouse. You wanna pray that God would bring the right person. Or you're dating right now and you want wisdom in dating. Or maybe you're not even called to marriage. You want the strength to honor God faithfully as a single adult doing ministry for his glory. I'm gonna ask you again, how many of you would say, whether your own or someone else's, you want, you need prayer for a relationship? Would you lift up your hands right now? Hands went up all over the place. Online you can just say, pray for a relationship. You can type it online, pray for a relationship.
God we come to you and we thank you that you are a good God, you're a healing God. God, you specialize in healing broken relationships. God, we start and ask for prayer for us that we would do what's right, that we would have faith, that we would be full of love and grace and forgiveness. And we pray God, for those that are broken. We pray for broken marriages. We pray for those who are hurting. We pray for those who've been betrayed. We pray for those healing from painful divorces. God, we pray for those who need your presence. Holy Spirit, do what only you can do. We pray for miracles and relationships. We pray for transformation stories. We pray God, that your power would be made evident. God, we pray that there would be testimonies that would come from people who turn to you. You are the God who makes all things new, God. We seek you. We seek you.
As you keep praying today, there are some of you that you may find yourself broken. You've done some things that you're ashamed of. You don't know where you stand with God. Let me tell you about the goodness of God. He loves you so much that he sent his guardian-redeemer. He sent Jesus, the Son of God, who is perfect and sinless, who died on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven. And God raised him from the grave. And now anybody, and this includes you, it doesn't matter what you've done, it doesn't matter how dark your life is. Anybody who calls on his name, you'd be saved, your sins forgiven and you would be made new. He is the one who makes all things new.
Today, wherever you're watching from, you may be online, you may be at a Life Church location and you recognize that you're not walking intimately with God. You're not a person of spiritual character. You're not living a life that truly reflects a love for God. He loves you. He sent Jesus for you. Our only reasonable response is to give our life back to him, to make him first. What do we do? We just step away from Moab. We step away from the old sinful life and we step toward the God of Bethlehem. God, I need you. I give my life to you today. I surrender to you. Wherever you're watching from, you say, that's my prayer today. "I'm leaving my old life. I wanna trust in Jesus to save me. I surrender my life. I give my life to you". That's your prayer.
Lift your hands high right now all over the place and say, "yes, Jesus. I surrender to you". Lift your hands and say, "yes, Jesus. I surrender to you". Right up here in this section. Praise God for you. Others today, say yes. Right back here in the middle section, right back over here. Come on church. Let's tell God thanks. Others today, "Jesus, I need you. I need you. I need you. Forgive my sins". Online you can type it in the comment section. I am surrendering my life to Jesus. Would you pray together with those around you? Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus, be first. My Savior, my guardian-redeemer. Thank you for forgiveness. Fill me with your Spirit so I could know you, I could live for you, I could show your love in all I do. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.