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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Time to Define the Relationship

Craig Groeschel - Time to Define the Relationship

Craig Groeschel - Time to Define the Relationship
Craig Groeschel - Time to Define the Relationship
TOPICS: The Book of Ruth, Relationships, Dating

We're going to continue our study through the Book of Ruth today. We are in chapter three, and like I promised you, things are about to get weird. Do you think you can handle some weird? Yeah. Online, just type it in the comment section. I can handle some weird. Let's look back and review where we've been. In case some of you're new, we wanna catch you up on the context of the Book of Ruth. If you remember, Ruth was a poor widow who just so happens is what the text says, according to the providence of God.

What is the providence of God? That's when God uses natural circumstances to accomplish his supernatural will. She just so happened to work in a field belonging to a godly landowner, a guy named Boaz, a man of standing who asked her on a date. And if we look at the text on their first date, I'm gonna read a little bit into it, but it really looked like they connected. They talked for a little while. He offered her more than she needed. The conversation looked good.

If I could kind of modernize that, I would say the sparks were flying. He made her laugh. She made him feel special. There was no awkward silence. They started finishing each other's sentences, and they both had butterflies. Amen. Then after a great first date, there was nothing. Boaz ghosted her. No follow-up call, no courtesy text. Did you make it home okay? He didn't even follow her on the 'gram. She's confused. Seven weeks of harvest go by, and the harvest is almost over. And now she's scratching her head going, "I think I read something into it that wasn't there. Maybe I came on too strong. Maybe I was too forward, maybe... I didn't shower, I was working in the field all day. Maybe I gave him the ick. I should have taken a shower. I just kind of blew it all together. What did I do wrong"?

And so her mother-in-law, Naomi, who was always opinionated and not always wise, stepped into the conversation and says, "Ruth, it's time to DTR". It's time to define the relationship. Amen. Who knows what I'm talking about? You know what I'm talking about? Define the relationship. If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is the dreaded official talk where a couple determines the level of commitment in the relationship. What are we? Are we just friends? Are we more than friends? Are we casual dating or are we dating exclusively? Then the very important follow-up question, if we're dating exclusively, do we go public on social media? And if we do, is it a soft launch or a hard launch? What is a soft launch?

A soft launch is a story with some flowers. A hard launch is, here I am, I tag her and we are public, baby. Then we just pray we don't break up 'cause then we gotta clean up our page later on and delete all the photos. DTR, you gotta define the relationship. And every relationship hits that point, the decision point. And what I wanna do is show you through this story how to navigate that season wisely. We're gonna do it in chapter three, starting in verse one. And here's how the story goes, "One day, Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi said to her, 'My daughter, I must find a home for you where you'll be provided for.'" In other words, in a Hebrew, that means we gotta find you a man. That's what it means, okay?

She said, "Now Boaz, this guy that provided for you, he's a relative of ours. Tonight, he'll be winnowing barley on the threshing floor". I like that phrase. Last night, I happened to be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. You never say that, right? What in the world does it mean to winnow borrow barley on the threshing floor? I'll show you a photo of a threshing floor. This would be a place that after the harvest, you would go and you would take the harvest and all that you had to a platform in the field, and then you would take everything and throw it up in the air. And the westward wind, in this case, would separate the wheat from the shaft. This would basically determine, here's how much good stuff you have. Here's what you can eat, here's what you can sell, essentially they were determining the profit.

So you're at the end of harvest, and you've got Boaz at the threshing floor about to gather all of the workers. And what are they gonna do? They're actually gonna have a payday party. Everybody gets paid, it's gonna be a big party. So Naomi is thinking they're gonna have a party tonight, and she starts to strategize. She's thinking, "Okay, Ruth, Boaz is gonna be there. He's going to be in a good mood. So here's what we're gonna do". Verse three, watch this. It's actually kind of funny. She says, "Wash". That is a very good place to start. If you're wanting to have any kind of relationship, whatsoever, you can just write that down.

Step number one, take a bath. This is in the Bible, "Wash, put on perfume and get dressed in your best clothes". What's she thinking? She's thinking, "Last time he saw you, girl, you were a total mess. You had dirt in your fingernails. Your hair was all ratty. What I want you to do is I want you to show 'em your glow up. I want you to get on your best fit. I want you to get some Bethlehem Bloom perfume. I want you to show up looking good, take a bath and and put on some perfume". Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you're there until what? Until he is finished eating and drinking. This is kind of funny. Let him finish his chicken wings because we know all men are happier after they finish eating. You can see the strategy behind this.

What I want you to do is I want you to get all dressed up. I want you to wait until he's had a few drinks. And then here's what I want you to do. Warning, this is where it starts to get weird. Verse four says this, this is in the Bible, "When he lies down..." Okay, Ruth, here's your strategy, "When he lies down, note the place where he is lying". Now, why is he gonna lie down? He's gonna actually do that because he's gonna sleep by the profits 'cause he don't want anybody to steal it. So he is gonna sleep by the stuff. And then when he is asleep, go uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do. So Ruth is listening to her wise mother-in-law and says, "I'll do whatever you say".

So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. One of my daughters is in this service right now, and I just want to tell you point blank that I have never ever given any of my four daughters this advice. All right? Go to the party, wait for him to catch a buzz, when he is in bed, sneak in and whisper him, whisper, "Tell me what you want me to do". I have never, ever, as a dad, ever given any such advice. What in the world is Naomi doing? What's she advising? Sneak up by the bed, uncover his feet, and wait for him.

So as your pastor, I did a lot of research on this text to uncover the real spiritual meaning. And what I found is there are differing opinions. I'll give you some of the theories. Do you want them? Yes. One theory is when she said uncover his feet, that was a euphemism saying, uncover more about him, find out a little bit more about him, find out some more about him. That is a theory. In my seminary graduate opinion, that one's dumb, but nevertheless, that's a theory. It's my opinion. Another theory suggests that Naomi is actually telling Ruth to be aggressive, to do whatever it takes to get his attention. Not Ruth, no, not like... Whatever it takes to get his attention. That's just a theory no one knows. Maybe that was it. Maybe it wasn't. Other people would say that Naomi was saying, "Hey, trust God's sovereignty and trust Boaz's integrity".

We know he is a man of God. We know he is a man of standing. We know that he loves God. Just kind of put yourself in the right place at the right time and the right God is gonna bring you the right man. Those are essentially the theories we have to work with. You can do with them what you will. What we do know is that Naomi is suggesting that Ruth be a little bit forward because why? Because this is her potential guardian redeemer. This is potentially the man that can help provide for her and protect her and be a spiritual covering. And so her mother-in-law is saying, "Hey, you might wanna kind of give him a little hint along the way".

And I will go ahead and say this for the benefit of the ladies is that some men need a little encouragement. Some of them need a lot of encouragement. And the reason is I'll let you in on a little secret. The secret is that most of us as men are very insecure. And some of you would say, that ain't no secret. Let's just pretend like it is because it makes us feel better. Some of us are insecure, we need a little bit of help. We need a little bit of signal. And this might've been me when I was dating Amy. We were about six weeks into our relationship, and I was like really insecure. Like, does she like me? Does she like me? I don't know. I mean, I can't believe it. I mean, maybe she does, maybe she doesn't. And I was completely unsure until she gave me a graduation gift. What do you think she gave me? She actually gave me a puppy.

And the moment she gave me a puppy, I thought to myself, "A puppy is a long-term gift". I looked up cocker spaniels, they should live about 13 to 14 years. I thought she is interested in me for the next 13 or 14 years, and that gives me some time to potentially win. I was so excited that that was a signal that she liked me. At graduation, I carried the dog across the stage at graduation. Just so people would ask me, "Where'd you get the dog"? I got it from the girl. I got it from the girl. I got it from the... I think she might like me. All that to say, ladies, sometimes he needs a little bit of encouragement.

So Ruth goes and lies down at his feet, and she's waiting by his bed. I wanna be very, very clear for a moment, this is descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, this is what happened in the Bible. This is not the Bible telling you to do the same thing. Amen. In my pastoral opinion, this is not always the best plan, but I actually like that it's in the Bible because the Bible puts the real stuff in there. The Bible puts the stuff in there when people don't always get it right, when sometimes they do dumb things or really, really dumb things. And I like that that's in there. For example, I've told you a lot about what Amy and I did. That was right. We prayed together. We waited to have sex until we were married together. We built a foundation around Jesus together.

Would you like for me to be transparent and tell you something we didn't do right? Yeah. Good, I'm glad someone's excited about it. And this is not something I'm proud of. But when we were dating, she lived about 40 minutes away. And one night, we had literally... We were up talking and praying, like really sincere, spiritual God honoring things. And somehow we just fell asleep. And we both woke up in the morning, she was there, I was there and we're like, "Oh, we stayed the night". And she said, "We can't ever let that happen again. No, no, no, no, no, we can't". We stayed the night together and we didn't mean to.

Well, about a week later, it was about two in the morning, and she had to drive home. And I was thinking, "Well, I don't really want you to drive home. It's too far and it's too late. And nothing bad happened the last time". And I said to myself, "Well, we're not sleeping together, so why don't you just stay the night over again"? And there were multiple times when I put ourselves in a situation that, one, didn't look good. Two, it wasn't wise. That was not the best thing to do. And I'm telling you that for multiple reasons. One is just to say that we didn't always get it right, but also to show you an encouraging truth is also found in the Book of Ruth. And that is this, that even if you don't get it right, God can still make it right. Yeah. Even if you don't do everything by the book all the time, that our God is still working.

So some of you right now, if you're in a relationship, and you're like all jacked up, you serve a God who is a redemptive God. He's a forgiving God. He's a gracious God. He works in all things, and He can take the places that we break things. It can actually make them better than new. This doesn't give you permission to be dumb, but it is an encouragement that God is still good. Are you encouraged? Online, are you encouraged? Type it in the comment section, "I'm encouraged". If you're encouraged, type it in there, "I'm encouraged" because the story's about to get weirder.

Here we go again. Verse seven, eight, and nine, "When Boaz has finished eating and drinking, he was in good spirits". What do you think that means? He was in a really good mood, good chicken wings and good beer or whatever. He's in good spirits. He went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile, and Ruth... Smelling good and looking good, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man, probably a woman at the foot of his bed. And he turned and there she was, lying at his feet. Right in the middle of this, He said, "Who are you"? And she said, "I'm your servant, Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are a guardian redeemer of our family".

Spread a little bit over me since you are the guardian redeemer of our family. What is a guardian redeemer or a kinsman redeemer? One more time. It is a relative who had the responsibility and privilege to provide for a family member in time of need. What would happen is if there was a widow, her husband who would've died, would typically have a brother, and that brother would have the spiritual responsibility to provide for and protect that widow that was the guardian or the kinsman redeemer.

Who is Boaz? Well, he is a potential guardian redeemer, but this is very important. He is a distant guardian redeemer. He is not anywhere near the closest one and did not have the legal right or obligation to provide for her. And so here we see what's going on. She says, "Hey, would you cover me up? Would you be my..." What is she saying? Many scholars would say, she was saying, "Would you be my spiritual covering? Would you be my redeemer"? Some people would say she's proposing. Is she actually proposing to him? I'm not sure if she's proposing, but she is being forward. You could say she's encouraging him to propose if she's not proposing.

Believe it or not, and this is true, and you're gonna laugh, you're gonna think I'm making up, Amy actually did that to me. She encouraged me to propose because I was raised under the traditional mindset that you have to graduate from college before you get married. I had just graduated, and she had several more years left because she was changing majors, and it would've been quite some time. So I said, "Well, we'll get married when you graduate". And she said, "Well, why do we have to wait"? I said, "Because that's what you do". It's in the Bible somewhere that you have to graduate from college before you get married. She's like, "Where is that in the Bible? And why do we have to wait"? I said, "I think that you just have to". And she said, "Well, why"? And I said, "I don't know". And she said, "Why don't we get married sooner"? And I said, "Oh, are you wanting to get married sooner"? So I said, "Sure, let's get married sooner. How about tomorrow"?

You know, as fast as we can. And so again, along the way, sometimes you have to help each other out to move things forward. And so Boaz is in good spirits. She's by his bed. She grabs the covers. And what does she do? The same thing we did a few times, and that is they stayed the night together. So did they have sex that night? And the answer is no, they did not. And I'll show you why in a moment, which raises one of the most important questions that people dating ask when it comes to physical interaction. And the question is, how far is too far?

When I was a new Christian, and Amy was my first Christian relationship, I asked my buddy like, "Give me the rules. I wanna know everything I can do, everything. Don't hold anything back. Can I smell her hair? Can I lick her neck"? I mean, I wanna know everything. What's legal? What's not legal? I wanna know everything. And that's what people tend to ask. And we wanna know how close we can get to the line. How far is too far? Where is the line? I'll give you a verse in the Bible that really gives us some good insight to where the line actually falls.

Psalm of Solomon 8:4 tells us this, "Promise me, O, women of Jerusalem, not to do..." What? Let's say aloud, not to awaken love until what? Until the time is right. Do not awaken love until the time is right. Well, how far is too far? If we can all pretend like we're adults here. When your body awakens, right? When your body prepares for sex, if you look confused, I'm not gonna say anymore, just ask the person sitting next to you. But at that point, that's too far. And so a wise person, if they want to honor God with purity, isn't going to get as close to line as possible. But we're actually gonna give us some safety measures, we're gonna stay away from the line. We do this all the time.

I got my private pilot's license about two years ago, and one of my top goals is to not crash. It's a goal. And so never once have I said, "Let me just see how close I can come to crashing without crashing". I don't do that. I try to stay far away from it. Where we live, we have poisonous snakes. I saw a copperhead the other day. Same thing. I didn't say to myself, "I wonder how close I can get to this dangerous, poisonous snake without him striking me on the leg". What did I do? I stayed far away from it. So if we're wise, and we want to honor God with sexual purity, instead of getting as close as we can to the line, we wanna create some margin, and we want to stay away from the line.

To be clear, the Bible says that the time... Do not awaken love until the time is right. The time for sex is in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. And some of you'll say, "But Craig, that's so old fashioned, and that's so out of touch". Maybe it's old fashioned, but we have to understand that sex represents the union when two people become one flesh, not to be separated because of the covenant that God has created. So if you want to do what everyone else does, do what everyone else does. And if you do what everyone else does, you'll likely have what everyone else has. But if you want something better, you might do something different.

What does Boaz do? Thank you. Boaz... Boaz treats Ruth honorably. She's at the foot of his bed, and he doesn't push her to have sex. He respects her purity, and I'll show you why. Verse 11 says this, "And now my daughter, don't be afraid, I will do for you all that you ask". You want me to be your kinsman redeemer? My answer is, yes, I'll do this. And all the people of my town will know that you are a woman of noble character. I'm gonna let 'em know you've done the right thing. I've done the right thing, and we're honoring God.

So this is good news. Ruth has hinted or more than hinted that she's available and declares her love for Boaz, and Boaz is all in. He hits full sin. He's ready to go. So what can they do now? Now, they can get married and now they can live happily ever after? Unfortunately, not yet. And the problem we find is in Ruth 3:12, here's what we see, "Although it's true, I'm a guardian redeemer of our family. Boaz says, 'There is another who is more closely related than I.'" In other words, I'm not legally the closest one, and therefore there's someone else. So he says, "Stay here for the night, and in the morning, if this other guy wants to do his duty as your guardian redeemer, then we're gonna let him redeem you. But if he's not willing, as sure as the Lord lives, I will do it".

What do we have? There's an obstacle. There's another relative who has the legal right to be her guardian redeemer. Now, we're gonna foreshadow what we're gonna talk about in the next message in this series, and it gets really, really fun. This week's weird. Next week's fun. We're gonna watch this Boaz schemes very wisely and very shrewdly to overcome this obstacle. And we're gonna see the principle that I love, ladies, if you'll do what it takes to get you, he'll do what it takes to keep you. And we're gonna watch him do what it takes to win her, and it's really, really fun. I can't wait to share it with you.

Let's summarize what we've seen this week. Let's bring our big thoughts into manageable summary points. And then what we're gonna do is we're gonna bring this text home. Five big lessons that we're learning this week. Let's look at 'em. The first one is this. It's often wise to put yourself in the right place to increase the odds of meeting the right person. In other words, if you're a follower of Jesus, and you wanna meet someone who's a follower of Jesus, it's probably better to go to life group than to the party that your friends are having, right? Use your brain. Let's be at the places where the Godly people will be in order to increase the odds of being with a right kind of person. Next one might change someone's life because you're sitting by someone kind of special.

Don't overlook those who are right in front of you. Oftentimes, there's someone right in front of you that God may do something special if you'll open up your eyes and see who's there. We saw that in Ruth and Boaz's case. Another principle is this. Sometimes you may have to go after what you want. I'm so glad, Amy, that you went after what you wanted because it works, and she just pointed at me like I went too far. Let's go on to the next thought. I always like to see how I did afterwards. I either did really good or maybe not. I don't know. Okay, even if you don't get it right, God can still make it right. For some of you, this is His word for you right now. Even in your marriage right now, there are some things that are not where they should be.

And maybe you built it on a foundation that wasn't as strong as it could have been. And even if you didn't do it all right, God is a redemptive God. He is a forgiving God. He's a gracious God. He's working in all things to bring them together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He can still make things right. And finally, if you want a marriage that honors God in the future, live a life that honors God today. Don't wait until later. Yeah. One day when we're married, have kids, then we're gonna serve Jesus. No, be faithful to him today.

So let's summarize and bring this home. Spiritually, we see Boaz wants to be her guardian redeemer, her kinsman redeemer, but he was not obligated to care for Ruth in that fashion. Why? Because he wasn't a brother to her husband. And she was a Moabite, not even from Bethlehem, but because he loved her, what did he do? He chose to make a sacrifice for her. And here's what's incredibly powerful. I want you to notice this. Because of Ruth's one decision, week one, to leave Moab and return to Bethlehem because of her one decision and because of Boaz's one decision to commit, to pursue her, to provide for her, to protect her as her guardian redeemer, because of her one decision and because of his one decision that led to a covenant of marriage that resulted in a son named Obed. And from the lineage of Obed came our guardian redeemer, Jesus, the Son of God, who is our savior, our king and our Lord.

And in the same way, Jesus wasn't obligated to give His life for you. Because of His love, He chose to be stripped of heavenly glory and become a lamb of God, who shed His blood and with slaying for the forgiveness of your sins and my sins. And after He gave His life, He did not stay dead, but God raised Him from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, and it doesn't matter what you've done, anyone who calls on Him would be saved. Jesus, your guardian redeemer, His door is open. His heart is for you, telling you come to Him now. And so it's time, little DTR. It's time to define the relationship. Who is Jesus to you? Who is He? Like really. This cool historical figure. Some guy you kind of read about. You got a casual commitment. You come to church when you can, when the weather's not too good and the weather's not too bad and the game's not on. Or is He your Lord, your savior, your redeemer, your king.

My fear, and I don't know how else to say this, but my fear is that there are many of you that are just like me that I was going to church, but He was not first. We were not in a relationship. He was not my Lord. He was just some guy. The guy up there talked about, I'm afraid that some of you are missing Him by about this much. 18 inches. You know about Him in your head, but you don't know Him in your heart because He didn't just come to make you religious. He came to have a relationship with you. He didn't come to get you to join a church. He came to set you free. Yes. He didn't come to make you follow a bunch of rules. He came to give you life and life to the full. His name is Jesus. His name is above every name. He is king. He is savior. He's redeemer. He is Lord. He's the the Lamb of God, and He's the lion of the tribe of Judah. He's coming back one day, and He wants to know you. He wants you to know Him.

Who is He to you? Who is He to you? It's time to define that relationship. So God, do a work today in a way that only you can do as you're praying. Let's start here. Nobody looking around. I wonder how many of you it's for your relationship, it's for your parents' relationship. It's for a potential relationship. It's for healing. I wonder how many of you would like to pray for a relationship today, some significant relationship in your life?

Would you lift up your hands right now? Lift up your hands online. You can just type I wanna pray for a relationship. Here's what I want you to recognize before we pray, is you could be one decision away from seeing it change. One decision, confessing a sin, deciding to apologize, deciding to start praying together, deciding to make church not something you do occasionally, but but something you commit to, deciding to get counseling, deciding to break up if your dating relationship is not honoring God or change it and make it honor God. One decision.

Father, I pray today for the relationships that need Your touch, Your power, Your healing. I pray for marriages, God, that are broken and need healing. We thank You that You're a healing God. God, I pray for those longing for a godly relationship. I pray for those that are dating and need Your help, Your direction. Give us the wisdom to make the decisions that would honor You. And we thank you that you're a good God. You care more about our relationships than we could ever imagine. We submit them to you.

As you keep praying today, some of you, this is your most important decision. You gotta define the relationship. Who is Jesus? If He says... If He is who He says He is in scripture, the son of God who gave His life so you could know Him, you gotta deal with that. Your only reasonable response is to say, "Take all of me". Be first, be everything. Be my Lord, be my savior. Anything else is lukewarm, and he spits that out.

Today, some of you may say, "You know, I've messed up. I'm in a bad place". You just come right as you are. Come to Him as you are. You don't clean up first, you come to Him. Jesus, the lamb of God, who died and rose again so you could be forgiven. It doesn't matter what you've done when you call on Him, He hears your prayers. He forgives your sins. He'll make you brand new today.

Wherever you're watching from, those who say, "no more playing around, no more halfway. Today, by faith, I declare He's my king. He's my savior. I need Him. Would you forgive me? Would you be the Lord of my life"? No more playing, no more halfway. You're stepping away from your sin. You are surrendering your life to Jesus. That's your prayer today. I need him. Be my savior. Be my Lord. That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now all over the place and say, "Yes, that's my prayer". Right back here and over here. Praise God for you back over here. Oh, my gosh, up there.

Others today say, "Yes, Jesus". I lift your hands high and say yes right back here. I surrender to him. Be the Lord of my life. Right back over here. Praise God for you as well. Others today, right back up. Come on, sir. Somebody tell God thank you, worship him. Others today say, "I surrender Jesus. Be the Lord of my life". Online, you type it in the comment section, "I am surrendering my life to Jesus". Type it in a comment section. Pray aloud. Pray:

Heavenly Father. Forgive my sins. Today, I put you first. Save me. Change me. Fill me with your spirit. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. You're my Lord, my savior, my king. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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