Our Merciful and Graceful God

Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”—Joshua 2:12–13 (ESV)

On a dark rooftop curtained by the night, three figures crouched whispering to each other. Two spies had surprisingly just evaded capture thanks to an unlikely ally—a prostitute. The two parties were making an oath guaranteeing that they would try to keep the other safe. It doesn’t sound like an unusual or unfair request from Rahab; it was a reciprocal agreement that Rahab’s kindness to the spies would be met with kindness from the invading Israelite army. 

But Rahab’s request reminds me of multiple Scripture verses about how God interacts with us in kind. Psalm 18:26 (NIV) says, “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.” Maybe Jesus had those verses in mind when he said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NIV).

People joke about karma, but we don’t usually realize that the idea of “karma” is like God’s agents doing his bidding. Psalms and Proverbs frequently speak of God being a just judge and rewarding or punishing people according to their actions. It’s because God is a just and righteous judge that we have a desperate need for a savior.

Our actions toward others filter the way we view God. When we widen our view to the overall context of the story, we see a larger picture of God’s great grace. Rahab was a prostitute. She wasn’t the type of person religious communities usually view as worthy of extra blessing and exultation. God honored her; however, as she kept her word and blessed His people. It doesn’t always happen this way, but the Lord took the blessing a few steps further than Rahab asked for and went beyond mercy into a specific display of unique grace. Rahab would never know in her lifetime, but the Messiah, Jesus, would be traced back through her lineage (Matthew 1). 

What began as a contract between two warring parties, God turned into the rich blessing of being part of the Savior’s lineage. Maybe Jesus had his ancient grandmother in mind when he said that the last shall be first. Sometimes it’s not the faithful, or privileged, or worthy candidates that God chooses to extravagantly reward. Regardless of the blessings God gives us during this time on earth, let’s do our best to treat others with mercy and respect and be thankful for God’s daily mercy and grace to us.

DIG: Where and how in your life do you see God displaying mercy and grace to you?

DISCOVER: Do you think you’re living a life of disobedience to the Lord, or do you feel like you’re trying to live a life of faithful obedience to the Lord? 

DO: If you feel like you aren’t walking closely with the Lord, go read Philippians 2:13 and ask Him to help you want to be obedient. If you feel that you’re living a faithful life that pleases the Lord, go read Hebrews 6:10-12 and ask Him to help you have strength to continue living faithful and pleasing to him.

About the Author

Justus Martin