We live in a society that seems low on doses of masculinity. And the occasional representations of masculinity we do encounter often twist and pervert God’s biblical intention for men.
What, then, is masculinity according to Scripture? In the book of Ruth, Boaz demonstrates three qualities every man needs.
- He provides: when Boaz discovers his foreign, Moabite relative Ruth has come to glean in his field, he takes action right away. Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.” (Ruth 2:8) By asking Ruth to stay at his field, Boaz offered Ruth the opportunity to gather grain for the entirety of the barley harvest. Since Ruth and her mother-in-law were widows, this promise immediately resolved their most pressing need—food to survive. But that’s not all.
- He protects: it was a dangerous prospect for a foreign widow-woman to glean from field to field during this time period in Israel’s history. The book of Ruth is set during the book of Judges, a time when “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6; 21:25) And that included their way with women. Ruth was vulnerable, but she found refuge in the fields of Boaz. He comforts her, “Have I not charged the young men not to touch you?” (Ruth 2:9). With both provision and protection assured, Boaz then communicates his long-term plans.
- He directs: Boaz tells Ruth, “Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them… And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” (Ruth 2:9) It’s hard to express the comfort and relief Ruth must have felt in her heart. She’s at a loss for words. Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10).
We won’t consider the whole story of Ruth, but we can learn a lot from the example of Boaz. How many women and children today are waiting for the men in their lives to start offering provision, protection, and direction? Men, how would your life change if you stopped and considered your responsibilities in each of these areas? Take your wife on a date, lay out these three categories, ask for her input, then buckle up to embrace manhood. It’s a challenge we must rise to meet every single day.
We do better with examples. Here’s how Boaz did it. Notice the provision, protection, and direction he offered in this simple meal.
And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean,
and do not rebuke her.”
Boaz pictures for us what God’s loyal love looks like in action. And we have the opportunity to live out that loyal love in our own lives by being real men. I need it. You need it. Let’s covenant together, by God’s grace, to do it.