Marriage Matters: Lessons from Biblical Couples 5
Boaz and Ruth – Cherishing Matters
Ruth 2:1 – 4:15
Gary Thomas writes in his book, Cherish: “Cherish means to go out of our way to notice someone, appreciate someone, honor someone, and hold someone dear. When we cherish someone, we take pleasure in thinking about them and we want to showcase their excellence to others.” Based on this definition, Boaz and Ruth knew what it was like to cherish each other. Ruth, a Moabite widow with no children, had almost no social standing in Israel; even the way she gleaned in Boaz’s fields was an example of her poverty and her position as an outsider. But, much like his great-grandson David would do years later when he met Abigail, Boaz both recognized Ruth’s beauty and honored her character.
Long before there was any intent of marriage for either one of them, Boaz noticed Ruth (Ruth 2:5-6). He audibly showed appreciation for her loyalty and her virtue (2:11-12). He protected her from those who might wish to harm her and safeguarded her reputation (2:9; 3:13-14). He provided for her by telling his reapers to give her more than was necessary (2:16), by giving her heaps of food to bring home to Naomi (3:15-17), and by offering the food and drink of his own table (2:14). This generosity and kindness is how Boaz held Ruth dear before he was able to make her his wife. Every word Boaz and Ruth spoke in the Scriptural account of their story is honorable and caring. They shone as a couple with qualities far greater than riches, beauty, or social status—kind hearts that know how to cherish the one God has brought to them.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12-13). Of course, we should be showing compassion and kindness to everyone we meet, just like our Lord Jesus did. But if we are to live this way toward everyone, how much more should we be showing compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness to our spouses! Sometimes, however, the people closest to us are the hardest for us to love well.
When we have been married for a long time, it can be easy to let irritations fester and to let our differences make us bitter. Words that used to be kind when we were young and newly in love become snappish. We find that instead of consistently noticing the good things in our spouse, we have become fixated on everything that angers or annoys us. We find that we are unknowingly reserving our kindness and generosity for our friends and community while neglecting to sacrifice ourselves for our spouse’s sake. While this may be common, it is by no means God’s intent for our marriages. Our spouses should lay claim to the very best of our affections, second to the Lord Himself. We should learn from Boaz and Ruth’s example that relationships founded on mutual respect, honor, and kindness leave the greatest legacy.
When we see couples that nitpick every little mistake each one makes, does that make us want to emulate them? When we see couples who are visibly bitter at each other for past wrongs or selfish with their time and belongings, does that inspire us to pour out ourselves for the good of our spouse? I certainly don’t think so. In fact, it is tragic to watch couples who have spent their lives together and who we know genuinely love one another behave rudely and unkindly as others look on.
For those of us who are married, if someone were to come into our home and record every interaction we have with our spouses for a full week, what would they see? Would we be embarrassed at the amount of slammed doors, eye rolls, and criticism? Or would we smile at how much we cherish each other—how much kindness and generosity we show in words and actions?
Because God knows exactly what He is doing, He makes us different from each other. In no relationship are our vast differences more visible than in the intimacy of marriage. This creates a wonderful opportunity, though! We get to see the world through the eyes of someone with a different background, family, skillset, and personality than we have. We get to learn how to love this person that God chose for us in a million different ways as we share a life together. We get to refine each other’s rough edges and spur each other toward godliness as we live out the teachings of Christ in our homes. May the love story of Boaz and Ruth encourage us to treasure our marriages and cherish our spouses so the whole world knows we are proud to call them ours.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:29-33, ESV)