Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds ad praise your Father in heaven.
A few weeks ago Hannah was charged by her dance team coach with the task of coming up with a way to motivate her teammates and help ready them for an upcoming competition. Hannah has always been long on creativity so in no time she had forged a clever plan. She hid candy inside balloons of her school's colors. Then she blew up the balloons and attached a note urging her teammates to blow away the competition. Her note served as a clue signifying the treasure that awaited inside the balloon. What was on the inside was made known by what could be observed on the outside.
This morning's passage is James 2. This chapter's main theme is the relationship between faith and the outward expression of our faith through acts of kindness and love. Two Old Testament figures are used as examples of individuals that God considered righteous because their outward behavior evidenced their inward love for God. The first is Abraham, one of the most recognizable individuals of the Old Testament and the "father" of both Christianity and Judaism. The second is an absolutely ordinary if not somewhat scandalous figure.
Her name is Rahab. Known only as Rahab the prostitute, her story can be found in Joshua 2, 6:22-24. By the second chapter of Joshua, the nation of Israel has been rescued from Egypt and spent forty years wandering around in the desert. The time has finally come for the Israelites to occupy the land that God had promised to them. Their conquest will begin in a town named Jericho.
Two spies are sent to that city to scope it out prior to the attack by Israel and are aided greatly by Rahab. She provides shelter, a hiding place and a way of escape. In return she asks only that the lives of herself and her family be spared. A plan is devised and to signify her safety a scarlet thread is hung from her window. All Israel will know her home is to be spared when they see the scarlet thread.
Now that story is fascinating but as Paul Harvey would say, it is the rest of the story that makes Rahab's story truly stupendous. You see her scarlet thread dangled a bit farther down history's wall than just out an ancient window in Jericho. Twenty-one generations later that scarlet thread would wrap about tiny fingers lying in a manger. Jesus is her offspring. Rahab's life was spared by a scarlet thread. Jesus carried that scarlet strand all the way to the cross where He laid down his life to save every wretched prostitute that would ever live.
Jesus, thank you for holding out a scarlet cloth to me. I desperately needed Your rescue. My heart and life had been prostituted to other loves - the love of myself and the love of independence. Like Rahab, I want my heart for You to be so evident to others that my actions would write the story of the redemption of my heart. Today I will hang Your scarlet thread out of the window of my soul that others might see You in me.