We live in an age where adulthood is increasingly shunned and the idea of “never growing up” is the aspiration of many. This is evidenced by the fact that we now have a term called “adulting.”1 This term assumes that adults can actually refrain from being adults and instead live as 30-year old teenagers until they decide to do “grown up” things.
This aspiration never to grow up and live a life with minimal responsibilities is a concern when it comes to developing husbands and fathers that will glorify God in biblical leadership and sacrificial service. One cannot simply decide to neglect his responsibility to provide for his family or protect his wife because he doesn’t feel like doing it that day. And yet, we live in a time where this seems to be an option to many.
We need to recover a healthy theology of leadership that glorifies God and embraces the idea of biblical manhood. One such example of this is found in the story of Boaz and Ruth. Let’s examine three ways in which Boaz demonstrates biblical manhood.
The Gentle Care of Boaz
As Ruth sets out to provide for her mother-in-law, Naomi, she comes to a field of a close relative of Naomi’s named Boaz. Boaz meets Ruth and commends her for her labor and faithfulness to Yahweh. He goes a step further and gives her permission to glean from his field and assures her of his protection (Ruth 2:8–9). Boaz demonstrates care and compassion in an age where dominance and abuse was common (2:22).
When Boaz saw someone in need, he took action to meet that need. He chose to use his influence to nourish and care for Ruth rather than exploit her.
The Firm Protection of Boaz
God instilled in His creative order that men should protect. This has always been both God’s design and desire. However, in a fallen world we see men neglecting this God-given role. We are witnessing a world that is fighting against this design of their Creator. Fear, cowardice, and laziness seem to overcome the conviction of many to protect and provide for their families.
The example of Boaz pushes against this ungodly trend. He immediately puts together a plan for Ruth not only to avoid danger but also to flourish. He instructs His workers not to harm her (2:9). He provides nourishment and food for her in order to assure that she will not go hungry (2:14–18). Later, when Ruth and Naomi are looking for a kinsman redeemer, Boaz takes it upon himself to make sure they are cared for (3:11–14). This is the type of Biblical leadership that is needed in our homes. May our homes and churches be filled with fathers and husbands that make it their mission to protect and provide for others, even if it costs them personally.
The Intentional Responsibility of Boaz
Naomi makes a statement regarding Boaz that gives us much insight into this man’s character. Naomi says in 3:18, “Wait, my daughter (Ruth), until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man (Boaz) will not rest but will settle the matter today (ESV).” Could you have a statement like this said about you? Are you known for relentless commitment to your duties? Does your work ethic demonstrate that you will not rest until the task is complete?
Boaz could have stalled this responsibility. He could have responded to Ruth’s request by pushing the responsibility on the nearer kinsman (3:12), but he did not. His reputation was such that others knew he would faithfully execute the task that he had promised to do.
Christ, Our Example
It is easy to give moral examples and encourage men to be caring and responsible, but this leads to the following questions: how can we be caring, and why should we be responsible? Is it because this helps to create a good society? Is it because these are simply good things to do? These answers are valid but insufficient.
Godly husbands and fathers should be caring, giving, and responsible because they serve and follow the God who is caring, giving, and responsible. When we yield our allegiance to the Sovereign One, we cannot be indifferent. The character of Boaz is an example of this. His character was the natural outflow of a man who treasured God above everything. He considered his relationship to God as the chief concern of his life (2:12).
As we seek to be men who demonstrate these qualities, let us remember that the One who sacrificed Himself for us calls us to sacrifice ourselves for our families and friends. The One who took on Himself the responsibility for the salvation of man calls us to take responsibility for what He has called us to do. The One who gently leads His sheep through life and eternity calls us to gently walk with others. May we follow the example of our Savior as we care for those whom God has entrusted to us.