September 26 I Saturday
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” —Hebrews 11:31
Imagine someone gave you two $20 bills. One of the bills was crisp and brand new with no marks or folds. The other was crumpled, frayed and marked up from the many times it had been counted, used and stuffed into someone’s pocket. The bills have clearly been treated differently, but if asked, “Which is more valuable?” we would have to say neither. What makes a $20 bill worth $20 is not its appearance nor its history but whether it contains the watermark that marks it official currency.
When the Bible introduces Rahab, we might see her more like the crumpled, marked up $20 bill. She was a Canaanite, an enemy of the people of Israel. She outright lies to the king of Jericho, telling him the spies have left while they were actually hidden on her roof. Both the Old and New Testaments regularly remind us that she was a prostitute: James 2:25 calls her “Rahab the prostitute;” Hebrews 11:31 says, “the prostitute Rahab;” and in Joshua 6:22, she is simply “the prostitute.” Why, then, was this woman from Jericho, who was not part of the people of God and whose behaviour violated many of God’s commandments saved and later incorporated into the Messianic line? What was the watermark that made her equal?
The same New Testament verses that remind us of Rahab’s profession give us the answer. In the opening verse, we read that Rahab was saved by faith because she welcomed the spies. James 2:25 echoes, “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” If we put these two verses together, it was by faith that Rahab was considered righteous. When it comes to what saved Rahab, her history, profession and character did not matter. Her watermark was her faith in God.
We all have sins that make us tattered and torn, but when we are incorporated into Christ, the only pure, clean One, He declares us righteous. There is no justification on the grounds of character; there is only justification on the grounds of faith. Character is about improving our behaviour, but faith is looking to God to save and change us. When we obsess over character, we run the risk of becoming pharisaical, disappointing ourselves again and again with inadequate efforts to be better on our own strength. But when we live by faith in Christ, the watermark that gives our salvation value, our character will be improved as a consequence of the Holy Spirit making us increasingly like Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me if I have thought my value as a believer came from my character rather than my faith in You. Thank You for saving me.