A very wise woman once counseled me to turn down a volunteer position at church because it would take time away from my family, especially my daughter who was in high school at the time.
Mind you, she wasn’t saying that church service wasn’t important. I was already busy and serving in my church, teaching full-time, and involved in many after-school activities.
Her point was that I had only a few years left with Bethany at home, and that I should make the most of that time, since our role as disciple makers should begin with our own children.
God first, family second, then church and other ministries.
I didn’t listen. I wanted to appear spiritual and busy and important, so I agreed to the position. Looking back, I missed out on a lot of conversations and connections with my daughter because I was always busy.
Often in life we are faced with decisions that on the surface may seem simple or insignificant, but could in fact be life-changing for us or someone else.
How to Make Tough Decisions: Lessons from Rahab
Rahab was a woman faced with a momentous decision: Obey the king and probably be financially rewarded or hide two Jewish spies and probably be killed. From our view, we probably see it as a no-brainer because we know the story.
But Rahab didn’t.
“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.”Joshua 2:1, NIV 84
The Jewish historian Jospehus and some other early sources identify Rahab as an innkeeper. The Hebrew word here indicates prostitute, as do the Greek in both Hebrews and James, so more than likely, she was both.
“The king of Jericho was told, ‘Look! Some of the Israelites have come here to spy out the land.’ So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.'”Joshua 2:2-3
Rahab was faced with a great decision. She could be obedient to the king and maybe make a little extra coin, or she could hide the enemy spies and risk losing her business and her life.
How did this Canaanite woman make the decision to protect these two Israelite spies?
Rahab made the decision by faith.
“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. ‘”Joshua 2:8-11
Rahab confessed here that she believed in the God of the Israelites. She had heard the truth of what God had done for them, and in healthy fear of God, she believed. The God of Israel was more powerful than the so-called gods of her people, and she was ready to receive that truth.
God sent those Israelite spies to Rahab because He knew her heart. She was open to the truth and ready to act on it.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”Hebrews 11:31
Rahab acted in response to her faith in the God of the Israelites. She may not yet have understood the covenant or the law, but she understood enough to respond in faith.
We don’t have to understand everything to follow God. Sometimes the things He calls us to do don’t make sense to our human understanding or our flesh. But He will grow us as we commit ourselves to follow His leading.
Rahab’s faith was demonstrated by her action.
James said that faith without action is dead (James 2:17). We express our faith in God when we follow Him in obedience even when we don’t understand or even when the cost is high.
“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? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”James 2:25-26
Genuine faith will be demonstrated in action. But it will also be rewarded.
“But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho–and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”Joshua 2:25
Rahab and her family–Gentiles–were given a place among the Israelites because she believed in their God by faith, and she acted on that belief.
As followers of Christ, we are given a place among the redeemed because we believe in Jesus by faith, and we act on that belief by choosing to turn from our sins and follow Him.
“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers…Salmon the father of Boaz whose mother was Rahab…”Matthew 1:1-2, 5a
And, like Rahab, we too will find our place in Christ’s genealogy as we become co-heirs with Christ and forever children of the King.
Maybe you haven’t quite been ready to receive and act on the truth that Jesus is Lord. You don’t have to understand everything or get your life together first. All you have to do is believe by faith that you (like all of us) are a sinner and that Jesus is the Son of God who died to pay the price for your sin.
Accept by faith what Christ has done for you on the cross. Make a decision to follow Jesus and trust that He will teach you what you need to know. Then get into His Word and find a good church to help you grow.
Maybe you are a Christ-follower who is faced with a decision that seems right on the surface, but something is telling you to go the other way. It may mean the loss of money, prestige, or power, but like Rahab, you feel compelled to follow God’s leading.
When it comes to making tough decisions, seek the Lord through prayer and His Word, seek the counsel of a mature Christian whom you trust, and then act on your faith in the one true God.
God may be calling us out of our comfort zone to do something scary. He may be calling us to give up something “spiritual” or something lucrative so we can focus on being present in our homes. Or He may be just calling us to Himself.
Whatever the call, let’s respond as Rahab did with both faith and action. He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”Hebrews 11:9