Newbreak’s Sermon Study Guide is an in-house resource that serves sermon-based Life Groups and/or individuals who want to reflect further on how the message contributes to their spiritual formation. In this week’s study, we celebrate Mother’s Day and talk about some great lessons pertaining to relationships.
Icebreakers for Life Groups
- What is one of your best memories with your mom?
- What’s the most fun thing you’ve done on Mother’s Day, whether with your mom, or as a mom, or celebrating a mom?
Point 1 – Cultivate relationships with the children God has brought into my life.
Read Ruth 1:1–7 (NLT)
Understand where things went wrong to gain perspective as to why the world is hurting today.
If you are not too familiar with the story of Ruth in the Bible, check out the Bible Project’s video on Ruth on Youtube. Ruth’s story is full of drama, but this week we are just focusing on the relational dynamics between Ruth and Naomi in chapter 1.
The story opens with a tragedy. We are introduced to a growing family who loses the father, and the two sons (who are married) die as well–leaving Naomi and her two daughters in law, Orpah and Ruth, to figure out how to move forward. One of the key reasons the characters make it through, and eventually thrive, is because they have healthy relationships (secure attachments). Ruth and Naomi’s story does not ignore the hardship, but shows how they go through it. The relational capital Naomi has with Ruth is demonstrated in Ruth’s loyalty to her mother in law. And most of us know, “in-law relationships” are not always easy! But Naomi demonstrates a great tool for parents–or anyone who interacts with children, of any age!
Ruth 1:8 (NLT) But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me.”
Naomi validated and commended the loyalty and kindness of her two daughters in law. Validating our kids leads to them valuing our relationship. We can often forget that our relationship goes two ways, that the kid is a human with autonomy, created in the image of God, worthy of their own thoughts and perspectives. Bringing synergy and alignment to a relationship with a child requires that they feel loved and validated. It was true thousands of years ago and it is true today.
The big idea is simply this: Parenting is not a set of skills to be learned but a relationship to be cultivated.
(Even if you don’t have your own children, you can play an influential role in the lives of the kids around you!) Some of the greatest influences of your life might not be a parent, but might have been an adult mentor or someone who became a “parental figure.”
Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
- How do you feel most validated in a relationship? What does this look like for you?
- If you have children, do you know what their love language is? If so, how do you show that love, so it has the most impact?
- In your relationships, do you build up more, or do you tend to criticize more? Why is this? What can you do to focus more on loving the relationship with the other person?
Point 2 – When we prioritize the relationship with our kids, everyone wins.
Read Ruth 1:9–18 (NLT)
Naomi then decides to move back to Israel and encourages her daughters in law to stay in Moab (where they are from). It’s easy to forget how different the worldviews would have been between an Israelite and a Moabite. It meant something big to Ruth when she said that “Your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). This is a result of a secure attachment, which most often happens in childhood, but it can happen as we get older as well–in this case Ruth had not known Naomi until her adult life (presumably) since she is her mother-in-law. The “win-win” here is that Naomi is not left to fend for herself in her older age, but Ruth is committed to taking care of the both of them. Meanwhile, Ruth has a mentor who–as the story continues–guides her with good counsel, which leads to Ruth finding a godly man who becomes her husband (Boaz).
We are being brief regarding this four chapter story entrenched in a cultural setting foreign to us, today, but our point here is to highlight the wins that come from prioriztized relationships.
Never underestimate what God is doing in the “kids” you are raising. As Andy Stanley says "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”
Matthew 1:5-6a (NLT) Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. Consider how incredible it was for Ruth’s legacy to be tied to King David and, even greater, King Jesus! Her story which went through a phase of ruin (losing her husband) led to a story of being part of the royal family–and she never saw it coming. Truthfully, we are reading with hindsight. Ruth didn’t even get to see the significance of her own family legacy, but that’s not always the point. Seeing things with the eyes of faith allows us to know that God can take our efforts in who we are raising up and blow us away with the impact they have on the redemptive story that God is working in.
Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
- What relational principles do you see at play in Ruth 1? How does the tragedy their family faces accentuate the relational equity between Ruth and Naomi?
- If the last two years have put a strain on your relationship with your kids, what can you do today to begin having a more enjoyable relationship? What is something that you will enjoy doing with them?
- Do you give yourself grace to have a relationship with your kids and not just get things done with your kids? What does this look like? (Example: be calm as they put their shoes on when they’re running late for school, or sit with them for a minute eating a sandwich when they have to stay up late studying.)
Final Challenge Questions
- How are you going to think or live differently in light of what you have read, heard, and discussed this week?
- How does this week’s message shape or nurture your relationship with God?
- BONUS: For those of you with kids or around kids: What is one truth from this message that you can share with your kids in a way that they would relate to or understand?