This past Sunday, we looked at Ruth 4. One of the key ideas from that chapter is the way Boaz took a wise risk in marrying Ruth, while another guy (we’ll just call him “So-and-So”) played it safe and rejected her. He saw Ruth as costing him too much. He knew he would lose people’s respect…and lose money if he married Ruth. So he passed.
One thing we noticed is how Boaz showed an eye-popping balance of right-headed thinking and genuine emotion. By law, Boaz had to offer Ruth to So-and-So, because he had the first right of refusal. There’s no doubt that Boaz was scared of losing Ruth, but he wasn’t controlled by his emotions.
Boaz didn’t panic. He didn't freak out. He didn't say, “Oh no, Ruth! Without you my world will stop! Let’s run away together! Let’s give ‘em somethin’ to talk about!” No, Boaz was calm and collected.
We also know that he wasn’t controlled by his libido, either. If you remember back to earlier in the book, Boaz had plenty of opportunity to sleep with Ruth, but he didn’t. He honored her. He wanted what was best for her, regardless of what it might cost him.
In Ruth 3:13, Boaz basically says, “If this other guy will marry you, so be it. But if not, then I will.” This isn’t your typical 21st-century love story, is it? It’s got some nice parts to it, but ultimately Boaz and Ruth’s story isn’t the biblical version of The Notebook. There’s no kissing in the rain or we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-parents runaway scenes.
So going into chapter 4, we know Boaz isn’t “fighting for Ruth” because he can’t imagine life without her, or because he can’t keep his pants on. He’s not pining after his soul mate. No, he’s displaying a character filled with wisdom and driven by a love for God. His love for Ruth is not about Ruth…its about God’s heart for Ruth. So-and-So says, “Imma do me.” Boaz says, “I’m going to take care of a daughter of God.” Boaz risks his reputation and his inheritance and much more because he’s wiling to take a wise risk on a Moabite girl that needed redeeming.
So what about us? It’s easy to cheer on Boaz while not looking in the mirror at ourselves. We should take wise risks, too. But what does that look like?
A wise risk is simply loving others with God’s love, putting your own comfort on the sidelines to provide for someone else. But wise risk is more than boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. Its parent-child. Its employer-employee. Its brother-sister. Its neighbor-to-neighbor.
While it might look different for a single college student than it does for a retired couple, there are two ways to approach a wise risk for the glory of God and the good of others—pray and think.
Duh, right? It might be less obvious than you think. We pray for sick family members and “traveling mercies” and other means of comfort, but do we ever pray for discomfort? When was the last time you prayed for God to show you a risk to take to show off his character?
If there’s one thing the Bible promises Christians, it’s suffering. Now, your suffering might look different than someone else’s. Your suffering might be draining that savings account a little to help someone in need. Your suffering might be being stuck in a living room with someone with whom you have nothing in common, but who needs a person to talk to. Your suffering might be a million different things, but God didn’t promise to keep you from it.
Praying for discomfort is risky, because God just might answer your prayer. But seeking God is the wisest thing you can ever do.
- MEDITATE ON SCRIPTURE & THINK IT DOWN INTO YOUR SITUATION
Remember that Boaz didn’t make decisions willy-nilly. He clearly thought through his decisions. He didn’t take a risk on Ruth in a moment of passion—he took a risk on her because he knew God’s heart was for the widow. He knew it was the right thing to do…which he could only know by dwelling on the law (Psalm 1). Unlike So-and-So, Boaz’s budget was driven by honoring the character of the LORD, not honoring his own name. Boaz’s mind was on the things of God; So-and-So’s were on the things of So-and-So.
So don’t mindlessly get into a risky situation. Don’t give money to someone if it's going to result in hurting them more than helping them. Don’t date someone who is killing you spiritually because you “want to be a good witness.” That’s not the wisdom of God.
But be willing to stretch a little. Don’t use God as your excuse not to sacrifice. That’s not his wisdom either. Be aware of opportunities— to sacrifice your time, risk your reputation, break out of the mold, give away your vacation money—to take a risk to serve someone. Be willing to be hurt, rejected, or even taken advantage of. Be willing to feel the tension of opening your hand when you want to clench your fist. Think about the risks and face them head on, and make the wise-yet-risky decision.
Wisdom is nothing more than acting in the character of Christ. He loved his Father and he loved others. He sacrificed his reputation, his comfort, and even his safety—his life!—to make a way for our salvation. Jesus, the better Boaz, put all self-interest aside for us. He was crushed for our sin so we don’t have to be. The King of the Universe stepped down from a throne into our earthly ghetto. He took a wise risk for us, for you.
The truth is, God really doesn’t take risks. He knows the outcome. He is moving history toward one common goal… Us with him, him with us. (Rev 21:3)
That means, that in Christ, there are no eternal risks. We get it all back. When Jesus comes back and makes all things new, there is nothing lost for his sake…that we won’t get back 10 fold. In other words, even in the mistakes you make…if you are loving like God loves…you haven’t lost a thing. Jesus put it this way, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 16:25). In other words, in yet another great paradox of following Jesus, Its risky not to risk. The safest thing you can possibly do is risk it all.
So pray. Meditate on Scripture and then think it down into your life.
Who or what could use a wise risk from you?
Co-authored by Brandon Smith