Monday 25 March

 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

25Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

The Common English Bible, again seems to me to translate verses 24, 25 in a way that makes more clear the spirit of “The Letter of James”:

24So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone.

25In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road?

“Works” are a manifestation of faith. They demonstrate the presence of faith in the heart of the believer.

The really startling thing here is not the emphasis on works, but the person chosen as a model for faith in action. Although, I am not entirely convinced, Abraham was quite the paragon of virtue he is usually portrayed, he is an obvious choice to portray faith at work. Rahab, however, is a startling pick for James to hold up as an image of what the life of faith might look like.

Rahab was not a Hebrew. She was a woman whose life-style would not have inclined anyone to choose her as a model. And yet, here she is presented as a model of living faith. There is no mention that she had stopped being a prostitute and found another more respectable line of work. James only tells us that she hid the Hebrew spies and by this “work” the Canaanite prostitute was “shown to be righteous.”

Faith may be seen in the smallest action in the most broken unexpected places. If Rahab can be a model of faith, perhaps there is hope that my little gestures of goodness and compassion may demonstrate the seed of faith germinating in my heart.