Discussion Guide: Friendship Can Save the World: The Power of Covenant Love

Before We Get Started

For our discussion today, we will be using the sermon series discussion guides. If you would like to follow along you can access this discussion guide on the website at mosaicchurchaustin.com and then select “community group resources” in the menu options.

Prayer

Because the primary goal of our time together is to establish relationships and learn how to walk with one another in all that God has called us to be and do, we’d like to begin by praying for one another. So, does anyone have anything you’d like us to pray for or anything to share regarding how you’ve seen God moving in your life that we can celebrate together?

This Week’s Topic

Today, we continue our series titled Friendship Can Save the World, in which we will explore how God uses diverse friendships to fulfill his miraculous will in the world. In an increasingly polarized world, our collective ability to navigate friendships with people whose backgrounds, experiences, and views differ from our own has diminished. Along the way, valuing diversity has come to be seen by many Christians as a secular pursuit. However, we love and serve a diverse God (being three unique persons himself) who taught us to love those we tend to have a hard time loving: outsiders, enemies, foreigners, the poor, and the weak. We hope this series inspires you to love and be loved more courageously as we forge a path together into a more redemptive future.

Today’s Topic

The Power of Covenant Love

An important note about the format for this series

We have provided two discussion group formats for our Friendship Can Save the World Series. For groups with access to a computer or television, our video discussion guide offers a vibrant exploration of the concepts each week. All you have to do is press play (and pause for about five minutes for each discussion question)! The same content has been rearranged and included in the discussion guide below for our groups that meet in noisy, public spaces or who don’t have access to a computer or television. All you have to do is read aloud, as usual!

Please choose either the video or the written format, given what works best for your group.

Ruth & Boaz

 

In the second chapter of Ruth, we read about the beginning of the friendship shared by Ruth and Boaz. But really, Ruth 2 offers us more than just a friendly story. As a work of literature belonging to the Hebrew narrative genre, the book of Ruth is meant to shape our theology by artfully using story to reveal who God is and how his people should relate to him and others, given the truth about God’s nature and person. 

Our Western, individualistic perspective often causes us to see Bible stories as primarily moralistic instead of theological. We insert ourselves as the main character in the narrative, accidentally assuming the story is mainly about us, instead of remembering the principal actor in any Bible story is God. When we let our curiosity about who God is lead us through Ruth 2, we discover a clear view of a wide-sweeping scriptural theme: the God of the Bible is a God of covenant love. 

The Hebrew word for covenant love, hesed, is used four times in the book of Ruth. In Ruth 2, Boaz lavished hesed on Ruth before he knew her name. His generous treatment of Ruth eventually connected his life with God’s greater redemptive story in a unique way.

To begin our exploration of Ruth 2, let’s consider what Boaz’s friendship with Ruth teaches us about God’s covenant love.

 

Ruth 2:4-9

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

“The Lord bless you!” they answered.

Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

 

When Boaz first saw Ruth, she was gleaning in his field, picking up the leftover, stray scraps of grain that fell to the ground behind the workers. This excess grain was Ruth and Naomi’s only hope for survival, and their right to gather it was commanded by God in Leviticus 19. Ruth’s presence in the field piqued Boaz’s curiosity, and he asked the field’s overseer about the identity of the unfamiliar woman gleaning. 

 

The overseer then identified Ruth as “the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.” Not only did this description of Ruth fail to name her as Naomi’s daughter-in-law (which would highlight her rightful place in Bethlehem as a member of Naomi’s family), but his words also reduced Ruth’s primary identity to one label: an outsider from a foreign land. However, Boaz rejected the overseer’s marginalization of Ruth and turned to Ruth with this word of friendship.

 

Question 1:

Why do we sometimes tend to view others as insiders or outsiders, and why are we sometimes tempted to label others as one particular “kind” of person?

Boaz’s Heart for Hesed

 

When Ruth later asks Boaz why he has been so generous to her, in Ruth 2:11-12 Boaz honors Ruth for her sacrificial faithfulness to Naomi, affirms her as a valuable part of Naomi’s family, and declares his desire for Ruth to experience God’s hesed in return. 

 

Ruth 2:11-12

“I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. “

 

Question 2: 

When we also consider that Boaz’s mother was Rahab, a foreigner who famously helped Israel defeat Jericho in Joshua 2, Boaz’s treatment of Ruth becomes more than a singular response to Ruth’s stellar character. How do you think Rahab’s influence in Boaz’s life shaped how Boaz viewed foreigners like Ruth? 

Gospel Friendship

 

Boaz was quick to be generous toward Ruth. He offered Ruth two privileges afforded him as a well-connected, powerful, wealthy male landowner in ancient Bethlehem. He gave her wise advice (“Don’t go and glean in another field”) and strong protection (“I have told the men not to lay a hand on you”). Boaz recognized the possible threat to Ruth when the overseer first identified her as a racial outsider. He then risked his comfort, safety, and reputation when he chose to provide for her. 

A heart full of hesed is a heart that desires a relationship full of God’s diverse beauty. It generously offers others any privilege or provision it has in abundance. That heart communicates what Boaz communicated: Don’t glean in another field. Stay here, in this place, this space, this community, this church, with me. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you have what you need most of all.

 

Question 3

Philippians 2 teaches us to humbly value other people above ourselves, pointing to how Jesus, who is God, humbly became a man in order to rescue us from our sins. How is the story of Boaz’s friendship with Ruth a foreshadowing of the gospel, and how can his example help us live the gospel in greater measure?

 

 

Share Your Perspective

 

Friendship Can Save the World, Carrie and Morgan Stephens

“Christ’s love and faithfulness turn ‘outsiders’ and ‘foreigners’ into our friends and family. Imagine what our friendships, families, and churches could be like if we showed up rejoicing in our unique differences and celebrating our mutual need for covenantal love and “faithfulness beyond compare.” Imagine what we could glean from one another if we fought for everyone present to feel valued and represented, as best we could, given the demographics of where we live.” 

 

Let’s take a minute and share from our own lives. If you’re comfortable, can you share about a time you needed to be welcomed but instead felt more like an outsider? Or can you share about a time when you were new to a place or group, and received a welcoming abundance of God’s covenantal love? 



Life Application

 

Spend the final minutes of your time together practicing covenantal love by sharing something you admire about the person to your right with the group. If you don’t know them very well, that’s okay! Do they have a bright smile, a great voice, or cool shoes? Did they say something you found interesting, insightful, or funny tonight? The point of this exercise is to share something that acknowledges we are all valuable people, worthy of generous kindness and love.



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