One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.
The Bible is not just concerned with going to heaven, end of the world events, and eternal life, it is also concerned about life here on earth as we wait for eternal life. It is imbalanced and unhealthy to be so ready and prepared for heaven and be a nuisance presently on earth and be unproductive presently on earth. Our desire and passion for heaven is not a basis for a careless and miserable present life. Someone has correctly said our life on earth should be a little heaven if we are preparing for the main heaven. Therefore focusing on dating is not losing focus from the serious biblical stuff, it is biblical stuff.
Our text today tells us that Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law organized the dating scene for Ruth. There are serious points here to take note of. First, networking. Ruth’s connection with Naomi led to a relationship that ended in marriage. Know people, relate with people and you will get connected to the right person. Staying aloof from relationships with people is not a clever move if you ever hope to date. People connect us with people. Relate well with people generally, you never know through who will the desired partner come. The first point is, live in a network. Be part of other people. Be friendly enough that they can recommend or bring you close to other people. There is no wisdom in staying alone in the house, lonely and prayerful. Network with many people.
Secondly, dating needs clear intentions. Naomi tells Ruth that the intention here is marriage. Be clear why you are relating with anyone. Unclear intentions lead to premarital sex, regrets, and eventually commitment to people you live to regret later. If there is no intention in the relationship, keep it general, and maintain a safe distance from any commitment. Primary school, Secondary school, and early College or University students have no business intending for marriage for it is still too far for them and they are not mature for it. Their relationships should be general and not close at all. They should avoid anything that makes a serious commitment, sexually, emotionally, and otherwise.
If intentions were seriously made clear, you will notice which relationships to quit with immediate effect. What is the intention of dating a married person? What is the intention of dating someone you will not marry or get married to because of faith or age or soon coming distance? Secondly, the intentions of the date must be clear before proceeding. If the intentions are pleasure, money, and sex, just know it is sinful, God will not bless you and He will make your life hard and painful.
Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.
Thirdly, do some background checks before approaching or getting close to the person. Naomi had already established who Boaz is, before sending Ruth to him. Find out if the person is single, married, or in a relationship or they broke up and with who. You must have a dossier of sorts before going for a date. That will save you from dangerous people and will help you know if the person is a liar during the conversation.
Fourthly, establish if you are related. In certain communities, certain relatives are not allowed to be in a marriage relationship. Naomi confirmed before Ruth dated Boaz, that Boaz was a relative but they could marry. It is painful to make such realizations after you have made an emotional commitment. I am made to understand that love affairs between relatives are very strong and hard to break, therefore to avoid that quagmire, establish if you are relatives.
Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.
The fifth has to do with your grooming. You do not have a second chance to make the first impression. Be deliberate. Be prayerful but bathe. Be committed to God but use perfume. Body odor is repulsive and you do not pick it yourself, others get it. You have many clothes but use your best clothes. This is an interview of a lifetime partner. These are pieces of information that Naomi gave Ruth. You must deliberately look good, smell good. It is not religious to dress like you do not care and smell like a pesticide chemical.
The sixth is that know when to approach. There are times when people’s commitment will make our approach to be an irritant. Boaz was busy with his farming business. Do not interfere with him during work. Wait for the right time when it is private enough and he can give you attention. Get their contacts and contact them later and see if you can set up a date. People get uncomfortable with heart matters in public for the first time.
When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
Seventh is to follow the dating norms of a culture. Each culture has ways in which people approach each other. Naomi gives Ruth the cultural way of their time on how to approach Boaz.
Eighth is that while the lady can give the cue, the man must lead the relationship. Ladies can approach a man to a safe extent that they catch the man’s attention, after that, the man must lead the relationship or be left alone. If the man does not lead the relationship, he is not interested and will not get interested in the future. If the lady insists, the man will use her, abuse her and it will end in pain. If he already has your contacts, you have talked briefly, but he is not contacting you at all or taking too long to reply, just move on. Moving on may startle him to run after you or it may confirm that he wasn’t interested. There are those who only show interest when you are insight or when you meet. It is not worth it. Move on in the name of Jesus!
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”
The ninth point is to use the dating language. In dating being too direct is boring and puts one-off. Dating uses poetic language that is suggestive of marital intentions. Just because you are highly committed religiously does not mean you approach people with straight boring offensive language. I want to marry you, is it possible? Straight speaking people come out as arrogant and not really caring if you say yes or no. When you really want a yes, you beat around the bush, and try to ensure a yes response is coming before dropping the main point. Therefore mind your language. It should be like pleading, charming, endearing, and even playful to acceptable levels.
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor. ”
The tenth point is privacy and confidentiality. No one should know until you have secured the relationship deal. No one should know you were trying to date so and so. Being too open too early is risky for your reputation and decision making. Some people assume a relationship has started from just one date or even just an exchange of contacts. That is juvenile optimism. If word goes out that you have in the recent past tried dating four people, you will come out as desperate. The fifth person will have heard of your failures and will avoid looking like the cheap one who accepted you after other rejected you. Keep it confidential until you win.
Another reason is that ensure your dating is not mistaken for sexual immorality. Keep it above board. Boaz tells Ruth that no one should know that a woman was here overnight. It is not heroic when people in your neighborhood think you have loose sexual morals. If your neighbors keep seeing a mixture of people visiting you in a manner to suggest sexual involvement, it is not good at all. Keep it private and confidential. Only teenage boys are proud of sexual exploits. Unless you two are still immature and do not mind letting the whole world know that you are excited about what has not begun.
He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.
The eleventh point is the exchange of gifts. Gifts are a demonstration of love. It is not the value of the gift, but the thought that matters. Gifts remind the other person about you. Gifts contribute to decision making. Avoid gifts that are too big and expensive, then the other person out of guilt agrees with you. If your gifts push someone into the relationship, you will regret it when the impact of the gift wears off. They will walk away. Most importantly, learn to exchange thoughtful gifts, this helps a lot in relationship development.
When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her
The twelfth point is to have an accountability partner. Love can be blinding and maddening and unless someone sober assesses your progress, you may think you are doing well when you are perishing. Naomi debriefed Ruth. An accountability partner is not your gang of agemates who think like you or may even be jealous. An accountable person must have your total interest at heart. Many relationships and marriages have been ruined by friends advising each other on things they know nothing about and have no experience with.
Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
The thirteenth point is patience. Naomi tells Ruth to wait. Wait. Do not text too many times. Do not call too many times. Wait. Do not send a thousand memes. Information overload can cause his or her decision-making process to jam or hang. Just be patient. Observe how things develop and play along or start walking away. Patience also means do not crowd the person with your “omnipresence.” The person may feel threatened as they realize they are losing their freedom and you are a new slave master.
Fourteenth and final for now is that reaction to the first date is critical. Naomi tells Ruth that they should observe how Boaz reacts to that first date. If you find something valuable, you go for it. If there is no value, you take your time. Activity or inactivity after the first date tells a lot. If the date was good and the future is good there will be a lot of activity. If the date was boring and regrettable, there will be no activity or there will be struggles to have activity.
A major portion of our future life will be in marriage. Our eternal destiny can be affected by marriage. Our success in life can be promoted or ruined by marriage. You can succeed in everything, but if you fail in marriage, you have really failed and will never know happiness. The best place to ensure marriage goes right is when it begins during dating.
May God grant wisdom for dating to the single and wisdom for living together to the married. May God save us from wrong relationships. May God save us from the adverse effects of bad marriages. In Jesus’ name, Amen!