Let’s wrap things up. Faith works. It really does. In James chapter one we understand that faith works when it is tested, especially under trials and temptations. Then in chapter 2 James continues showing how faith works as the litmus test of faith is an active faith that shows. Let’s have a look at the final story. We can also find it in the book of Joshua chapter 2 in the Old Testament…
The third and last example of faith is very interesting. James now uses the example of faith by reminding his readers of the prostitute Rahab. The scene is this. The Israelites were about to conquer the promised land and the first city that was under siege was Jericho. Jericho was protected by huge walls and the inhabitants thought they were safe behind those walls. Yet, rumor had spread that the Israelites were coming and that the God of these people was to be feared. He was a mighty God! This news also came to the most unlikely hero in the story. Rahab the prostitute, a nobody in society, heard the news. Please bear in mind that women were considered second-rate people by many. Often women that couldn’t make ends (widows/divorced or simply very poor) meet only had one last option; to work as a prostitute. How low can you sink?
I don’t believe that Rahab was doing this by choice like choosing a profession. Today we can pick and choose a job easily. That wasn’t the case for Rahab. Now, before the Israelites would conquer the city of Jericho, they sent out spies to check out the protection of the city and how they could defeat them. The people of Jericho somehow found out that Israelite spies had come to their city and they were looking for these spies high and low. The two spies had to run for their lives and while they fled, they kind of bumped into Rahab. Rahab, who knew about the mighty people of Israel and their God who had led them with a strong hand out of Egypt, believed that Jericho would be overrun by the Israelites.
So, courageously she hid the spies and send the people that were looking for them in the wrong direction. At departure, the spies thanked Rahab for her courageous act. Rahab pleaded with them to not kill her or her family when the destruction of Jericho would be a done deal. As a sign of that, she would use a scarlet cord in the window as a sign for the Israelites. Rahab, a nobody with a questionable reputation showed faith in action. She took a risk. A huge risk! Her people could have found out what she did. The Israelites could have broken their promise to not harm her family. After all, she was just a prostitute. Nevertheless, she took a risk. She knew, how imperfect as it may have been, from hearsay about the God of the Israelites that powerfully led His people to Canaan. The defeat of Jericho, even though it was surrounded by high walls, was sure. She knew in her spirit what was coming and courageously helped her future conquerors and spies to escape. That was not easy believism, because the stakes were sky high! She took a big risk. And that is what faith is about, isn’t it? Acting upon what you truly believe!
That’s the hard part of faith, isn’t it? True, biblical faith shows. It acts, moves and trusts. It’s a picture of how faith is accompanied by trust leading to obedient action. It was the action showed that Abraham really believed. Faith trusts and obeys, even when circumstances are hard and even risky.
I have been in many situations where my faith was really tested. For example, in the 10 years, my family lived in Brazil many trials knocked at our door. I remember a specific episode when I had just accepted the call to become the new children’s pastor of a mid-sized Nazarene church. It happened in my first year that for months on end someone would be sick in the family. One after another. Measles, flu, you name it! On top of that, the day before I was consecrated as a pastor, Janine and Joshua and Rebecca were involved in a very serious car accident. I was teaching English in church when I got her call. I came right away and when I arrived on the scene of the accident, I saw our car, upside down, very damaged, and a very distraught family, trying to figure out what would be next.
What do you do in a situation where it seems that everything, sickness, accidents, everything, seems to be going wrong? What can you do? Give up? Get angry? Blame God for allowing that to happen?
Long story short, the next day I did get consecrated as a pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. Our car…well eventually that was repaired. And the episode of sickness. Well, eventually that passed as well. It’s in these very tough times of your life that ‘easy believism’ won’t hold water. Either you believe in what you say and stick to that or not.
God has stretched my faith many times in my walk with Him. In the last series called “Under pressure” I already explained that trials and even temptations are part of the Christian journey. Sometimes I fell. Sometimes I got it wrong. But I didn’t linger in unbelief and doubt.
James exhorts us to stand in faith that shows. Works don’t prove our worth or save us. Works are simply part of a lifestyle of loving God and loving others. Every day we get the opportunity to do that! Faith works! It really does. Faith also shows. Faith trusts and obeys. To be a person of faith isn’t always easy or popular. But how can you tell you really believe and live by what you believe in? You show it!
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