Summary: Rahab's giving of herself for a newfound faith.
Today is stewardship Sunday. Today, we remember the truth that all that we have is God’s. To be a steward is to manage property for someone else. And it is our job to make decisions with that property for their best interest.
I think we often think of stewardship as the idea of deciding what it is I will give to God. What of my time and money am I going to give to spiritual things like church or volunteer work. That is thinking of it all wrong. It is not a decision of what to give and what to keep for myself. It is a realization that all of it is God’s. Everything you have and are is God’s. The recent Brief Statement of Faith begins, “We belong to God.” It is not ours to decide with how much we want to give. It is His. We give it all to Him. It is our job as stewards to decide how our time, our money, our lives, are best given to serve God’s best interest. It is not what we give, but how we give it. Andrew Murray once said, “The world asks, "What does a man own?"; Christ asks, 'How does he use it?”
The story of the spies and Rahab is not the first story that comes to mind for stewardship Sunday. But it is a perfect story, not just for stewardship in general, but even more so for our particular situation in this neighborhood. Rahab is a story of someone coming to faith and truly giving themselves in very specific ways to God. That is what stewardship is.
Sometimes, we think of becoming and being a Christian as giving ourselves to God in just spiritual, ephemeral ways. It is just a feeling and some words in a prayer. But the fact is, if it is real, it will work out in everything we say and do. If we our completely God’s, then so will our reaction to those people who push our buttons. If we are completely God’s, so will our moments when we are called to courageous actions. If we are completely God’s, so will our checkbooks and credit card statements be. Rahab is a great picture of faith.
More than that, she is a picture of a principle that runs throughout scripture. God does not choose to use the glories of this world to shine through. God chooses the weak, the discredited, the people of little value in this world through whom to work the glories of this world.
Rahab didn’t seem to have much going for her. First, Rahab is a Canaanite. Canaanites are hated as a people by virtually every culture and nation that surrounds them in this period. Over and over in the Old Testament, we find references to the wickedness of the Canaanites.
Rahab's second disadvantage is that she is a woman. Canaanite culture has a depraved, debased view of women. The reliefs and sculptures that we find show women as nothing more than sex objects and offspring-bearers. That attitude of sinful male chauvinism has been demonstrated in every society throughout human history. You may have heard the first-century prayer of the Jewish rabbis: "I thank my God that I was not born a woman." Today in many parts of the world women are legally second-class citizens who don't have the right to vote. In many cultures, women are still chattel, property to be owned; and girls are still killed at birth. We're all too well aware of the tragedy of domestic violence against women in our own country. In a fallen, sinful world, being a woman is a disadvantage. Some things haven't changed since the Canaanite culture. But God chooses to make this fascinating woman Rahab his servant, to honor her, and to focus on her.
Rahab's third disadvantage is that she is a prostitute. Most likely Rahab and her family lived in poverty. The bundles of flax that were laid out on the roof to dry will be used to weave linen. It suggests that her family lives by agriculture outside the walls of Jericho. Rahab's house on the outer wall serves as a place for her family to stay when they're in the city. Probably out of economic necessity, Rahab herself earns a living as a prostitute. And like prostitutes in all cultures, she is marginalized by society. In our day, as then, this profession is tolerated generally because of male sexual demands. But these women go entirely without recognition; they are non-entities in Jericho society, just as prostitutes are today in every country around the world.
But God loves to turn things upside-down. He chooses the most unexpected people to work with. He specializes in social outcasts. Remember, Jesus will be criticized for his involvement with publicans and sinners-those who are looked down upon because of lifestyle choices they have made.