Survivor: The Love Edition – Hunger Games

          How does a good woman identify a good man? 

Survivor_Love_Edition_400

This weekend couples are under pressure to prove their love for each other. To this end Villa Rosa Kempinski launched several high end overnight luxury packages for Valentine’s Day. The luxury hotel is offering a presidential suite package that cost 2.34 M. The package themed ‘A night of diamonds at our Presidential Suites’ was serving up a butler, private chef, dinner serenade, champagne, 40 bouquets of roses, massage treatments, Jacuzzi plus luxury diamond jewellery from Onyx Jewellers. This valentine weekend women all over the world are looking for men to meet. But many good women don’t know how to meet good men or even how to distinguish between casual interest and real interest. The challenge is that even in these modern times society is still quite conservative and it frowns on women pursuing. So men today we want you to help us with this dilemma…. How does a good woman identify a good man? What qualities can help us distinguish between losers who are just wasting their time and guys who are really interested?  

Ruth 2 The Message (MSG)

At the start of this series we talked about how relationships are a chaotic space and many of us don’t know whether we are going to survive the space or whether we will be outrun by the dangers in relationships.   We met this woman Naomi who was at the end of herself having lost not just her husband, but also her two sons, which meant that she returned to Judah completely impoverished.

Naomi had an in-law named Boaz, a man of considerable means and reputation. During the harvest period, a farmer was prohibited from reaping his field to the edges and gathering the leftover sheaves. These were left for the needy. Ruth, as the younger of the two, nobly volunteers to go into the fields to collect what she can. It just so happened Ruth worked in the field of Boaz that day. When Boaz comes from the city to inspect his laborers, he notices the industrious young woman gleaning in his field. Upon inquiry he learns that she is the Moabite woman recently returned with Naomi. There are certain things that Boaz does in this encounter that are the qualities of an honorable man:

Boaz addresses Ruth directly (v. 8) and takes actions to provide for her safety and well-being during the workday.

He encourages her to remain close to the young women reaping in his field (v. 9). This would provide her a more favorable position than any other gleaners and would insure her success. Upon her expression of gratitude and bewilderment that he should show such kindness, Boaz explains that he was aware of her personal sorrow and misfortune (v. 10-11). He concludes with a brief prayer that Yahweh would honor her faithfulness and sacrifice (v. 12).

But Boaz’s kindness did not stop here. At mealtime he gave her special attention and extra food. After lunch he made provisions for Ruth to have more than the leftover sheaves; the harvesters were ordered to leave stalks behind intentionally for her to gather. The result of her day’s work was an ephah, an impressive amount for a gleaner.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a wealthy land owner relating with a poor laborer on his property, he could have taken advantage of her and no one needed to ever know. He could have started a clandestine affair with her, a friends with benefits arrangement because as a foreigner with no safety net, who would she have run to? But instead he acts honorably. Boaz becomes like a big brother. He says to Ruth: Stay here because you will be safe.” Men how many of you are big brothers to women at work, in college, in the neighborhood, without asking for favors? Many women fall prey to men because they are vulnerable economically… Many girls are looking for school fees, good clothes and these needs expose them to being taken advantage. At the same time of course women, even when we are in dire circumstances you cannot afford to accept material things in exchange for your honor and dignity. This guy exemplifies what Pastor Jim said to us. He understood that the sovereign Lord had entrusted him with a part of his kingdom.

The main thing in this story is the ability of Boaz to restore what was such a bitter and empty situation; a mara situation.  His initiative is a game changer in the story. This story has many ingredients to it, but Boaz’s role changes the game and the direction of how things are unfolding. He appreciates the plight of Ruth, he responds to her situation by making some interventions to offer support.

Contrast this with what the world around us keeps saying: that men are dogs and that women just have to take charge and sort themselves out. And this messaging is so pervasive, that we are gradually resigning to the fact that this is what it is and this is how life is.  There is some pretty strong messaging out there about feminine power and potential; to the extent we forget that God has pressed his own image into every man. Hollywood has several stereotypical male:

One of them is this: “… TV/film/media portray men as bumbling buffoons with lower intelligence, unreliable and insignificant;” said Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., a human behavior expert. “Hollywood is a business. Its primary concern is selling movies and [it] believes the best way to do this is to appeal to women.” in the entertainment and advertising industries, which have made billions in the past few decades portraying adult males as lazy, clueless, emasculated idiots. Think of television’s beloved Homer Simpson.

A second one is the Badass Loner: He rides into town out of nowhere, his past mysterious, and his manner tough and aloof. There’s a touch of violence to him, but his effortless aura of cool makes him irresistible to the ladies. The third one is …

The Strong Silent Type: He doesn’t talk much; words aren’t really his thing. He never asks questions and he doesn’t answer many, either. Nobody knows what’s going on inside his head… until it’s violence o’clock. Then he’s expressive, all right; he’ll express a dozen people to death, never saying a word except for a phrase here and there. It is a serious problem that this stereotype is so popular; it encourages boys to hone their imagined ninja skills rather than their ability to express themselves.

You know, society tells us all sorts of things about men; this society has led us to believe that men cannot be depended on to behave honorably. But God’s word gives us something different…

MY ONE POINT IN THIS MESSAGE IS: MEN THE SOVEREIGN LORD HAS ENTRUSTED YOU WITH A PART OF HIS KINGDOM. Contrary to what Hollywood tells us. Maybe no one has told you about your God given role and you have been living like a dog, because this is what society has told you that you are. Perhaps you have been so intimidated by the success of women around you that you have began to feel irrelevant. Pastor Jim said some very powerful things last week: “The image of God is pressed into each man in this place. God has given you the capacity and desire to protect and provide for whatever is put into our charge. God is entrusting you with his kingdom and he will hold you accountable”.

When Ruth goes home and tells her mother in law about the favor she had received that day through Boaz, she exclaims and says in v.20 “Why, God bless that man! God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us in bad times as well as good!”

Your ability to handle yourself well as a man in your relationships at work, in your dating relationships, as a husband, as a father, has the power to restore people’s faith in God. And conversely your inability to handle yourself well in relationships has the power to destroy people’s faith in God. 

THE SOVEREIGN LORD HAS ENTRUSTED YOU WITH A PART OF HIS KINGDOM

Boaz notices the industrious young woman. Boaz inquires about her. He takes action: addresses the girl directly, etc….He concludes with a brief prayer that God would honor her faithfulness and sacrifice.

Men, let your life chart a different course, take the way you relate with women seriously. Do you really want to be with this lady? If not let her go… That is someone else’s daughter, someone else’s wife and someone’s mother. “God is risking everything by handing it to you and saying I am trusting you. I am handing it to you. Take care of it like I would and I will hold you accountable.”

Men, God is calling you to defy the stereotypes that Hollywood wants to impose on you. Refuse to be goaded by your boys into using Valentine as a cheap excuse to score some three bonga points. What we see in this passage is the idea that a real man is someone who acts honorably.

And this is not just for those in the dating space… for those who are married, when your marriage is in jeopardy, what I see in this passage is that as men, God is calling you to take the initiative to call for help or to get some kind of intervention. Refuse to let the pressure of work rob you of meaningful time with your family. Refuse the pressure to be pushed to the periphery of the relationships in your family.

May I say some things to the sisters: In this story, Ruth responds in deep respect and gratitude, acknowledging how much his kindness has comforted her. v. 13. Her words “spoken kindly to” literally spoken to the heart of, portray a beautiful picture. His actions must have meant a great deal to her. They represent the first cheerful thing that has happened to her since the death of her husband in Moab. After widowhood, exile and acute poverty, her encounter with Boaz was a turning point in her life.

Women the sovereign God has entrusted us with his kingdom. We have the opportunity to dignify the men in our lives by treating them with respect and with gratitude. Acknowledge the things they are doing. Yes perhaps you would desire for them to do more, but we can appreciate the things they do. We are not in competition. Many men feel that women come at life with an entitlement attitude… When Boaz is kind to her, Ruth is so grateful. Many women are out to take advantage of men. I want to say that many men are generous but what undermines their generosity is our lack of gratitude and ever growing list of demands. My husband told me that many men feel so unappreciated. In these modern times, women can be very powerful, sometimes very abrasive. Songs or lines that Ruth would never have used; “To the left, to the left. Don’t you ever for a second think that you are irreplaceable. I can get another you in a minute.” (Beyonce’s song Irreplaceable). This is what society is modeling to us.

A few tips we can apply as we relate:

RESPECT MEN: Don’t usurp their position. I know that many of our situations are not ideal. Perhaps you are not married to a Boaz. Don’t speak ill of him publicly. Even when we earn more than men, or have more education than the men, we can still act in a way that dignifies a man. AS a wife you can still be the one earning more money but don’t use that to deflate him or render him irrelevant. Being a man in the home cannot be limited to economic terms. It plays a role but it is not everything. You are telling me to step back. But my man is not a Boaz. If I don’t hold it together it will fall apart. I have a special word for mothers’ of sons. God has entrusted us with the lives of little boys who will one day have the power to restore other people’s faith in God. Don’t cut them down with your words. Affirm them and build confidence in them. These little boys you are holding today will one day be men who can restore other people’s faith in God.

PROTECT AND PROVIDE: As you live out your lives men, you are proclaiming this is what God is like: Many times men in the dating scene look at women and say: I can’t touch that one too much drama. That drama many times is male induced from a father/boyfriend. People are what they are because of the challenges they have gone through. There are a lot of good people but life has happened. Many women are wounded… but if you come in as a good man you can unlock who these women really are. When you come honorably like Boaz women can begin to flourish. The way you act will either draw out people or cause them to retreat. Many men look at women, and say I can’t touch that girl; she has a lot of baggage. And Ruth had a lot of baggage. Their social circles meant that they would never have crossed paths. Boaz was aware that this family had a lot of issues. The message reveals to men the power of acting honorably. This man completely redeemed this family because of his honorable actions. Maybe you are here and you are wondering, how do I move from being the complacent guy to being the guy I should be? What are some practical things I can do to help me be active, engaged and involved whether I am in a relationship or am hoping to be in a relationship? I want to point you to Man Enough is an 8-week challenge that calls out men to lead in service as sons, brothers, fathers and husbands in their families and society.

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3 Responses to “Survivor: The Love Edition – Hunger Games”

  1. Very inspiring

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  2. This sermon was so real to me, this is because just a few years ago I had gotten so disillusioned about relationships, especially with Christian men. Then I came to mavuno and started serving, and in the course of serving, I met a man who just by observing how he relates with women around him restored my faith in the fact that honourable men exist.
    I remember telling my sis that he’s the kind of man that I would trust with my grandma, and my young niece, and every other woman their between, because he treats women so graciously.

    Like

  3. Wow I aim to be a Man of honor with Character to be trusted by all so help me God
    I forsake porn and lust to achieve this so help me God
    Samuel

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