Two weeks ago I said yes to marrying the love of my life, the most wonderful man I’ve ever met. But I didn’t know that he was the most wonderful man when I met him – at first glance, he looks like your average guy. If I hadn’t discerned his deeper value, I might have missed out on a true prince.
As many of you know from my prior posts, I’m 32 and I spent over three years doing online dating. I know a thing or two about frogs. But what I didn’t know anything about was how to recognize a prince. The world and all of pop culture talk a lot about finding the right guy, but they give you all the wrong directions – is it the guy with the hotline bling, or the uptown funk, or the James Dean look in his eye?
Thankfully, the Bible gives us all the direction we need, even in just one short book. Ruth didn’t have Facebook or Google, but she had plenty of information about Boaz to make a solid decision. Let’s take a look at how Boaz proved his worth to her.
- He shares your religious beliefs
This goes almost without saying. For Ruth, she married someone from the Israelite tribe, the religion and people that she had adopted. She knew without even a question that he was someone who shared her religious beliefs.
However, in today’s world, determining that someone is Christian is far more difficult. Many people will check a box on their online profile indicating that they’re Christian, but it turns out that just means they were raised in the church, or that they’re willing to go with you to church (emphasis on “with you”). I dated many of those guys. Their faith is fleeting and you’re going to be the one doing the heavy lifting.
What made my fiancé stand out from the pack was that church wasn’t just an after-thought, it was a priority for him. He had a relationship with Jesus prior to meeting me, and he was actively involved in church activities.
- He has a vocation and can provide for your basic needs
Before they ever spoke, Ruth already knew a basic fact about Boaz: He had property – meaning he had a business, resources to support a family, and a place in the community. Ruth could see his financial investments right in front of her. Today’s equivalent would be that Mr. Right has a steady job, or is on a definite path toward getting a steady job, and that he makes sound financial decisions.
Further, on the first day of their meeting, Boaz made sure that she had a safe place to glean (2:8-9), that she had water to drink (2:9), and food to eat (2:14). Your future mate doesn’t need to provide riches, but he does need to provide the basics.
- He is kind toward you and others
In the book of Ruth, Ruth’s very first interaction with Boaz reveals his kindness toward her. When he was told she was a young woman alone, he immediately ensures her safety by offering her the ability to stay and glean with the other women (2:8).
It is important to note that he was kind to Ruth long before she became a romantic prospect, and when she was just an impoverished woman of no social standing – how your date treats the disadvantaged is often even more telling of his true character than how he treats you while you’re dating.
Equally of note is that kindness isn’t just a passive feeling, it requires action. In order to demonstrate kindness, Boaz had to take the action of ensuring his workers knew that Ruth could glean with them and not to harm her. In the dating context, this means looking for the guy who actively practices kindness, not the one who simply does no harm.
For me, community service is important and my fiance’s regular service in his church and at the local humane society truly separated him from the chaff. While neither of us are big on gifts, he demonstrates generosity toward me in his time and affection. These are the signs of a guy who is going to be a great partner for life.
- He respects who you are
While women are gaining ground, there are still a lot of guys who do not respect women, or who find it funny to make jokes at women’s expense. In contrast, within minutes of meeting Ruth, Boaz highly praises her for her loyalty to her mother-in-law (2:11-12). I’d like to hear that on a first date!
In my life, respecting me means respecting my opinions and my dreams. My fiancé not only knows those dreams, he encourages and supports them. He also demonstrates respect in that when we disagree, he works toward a compromise.
Last, men show respect by not taking advantage of you physically. A guy who does not value and recognize your commitment to purity is putting his temporary needs above your eternal good – and this isn’t going to suddenly improve in marriage. When Ruth goes to Boaz in the middle of the night, he could have taken advantage of her, but chose not to. (3:9-14). Instead, he went about things with honor and made sure that there was no other claim to her before proceeding with their relationship. (4:9-10).
Of course, other factors will also play a role, including basic physical attraction – the Song of Songs, after all, is not too far from Ruth! – and more surface-level personality factors that will make your decision of whom to marry. But if this is all your relationship is based on, it’s not a good foundation for a marriage to last a lifetime. To ensure that you are truly selecting a Prince who will treat you like a Princess for the length of your marriage, make sure he passes the above character test!