The Bible is full of examples of one person changing the course of history. Daniel was instrumental in influencing King Nebuchadnezzar and Queen Esther saved her people from destruction by risking her life to go before the king. Of course, most of us are thinking we won’t be coming into contact with many kings, presidents, or government officials to charm or sway – and we would be right.
However, it’s unfortunate when we think what we do doesn’t matter. While it is true most of us won’t be changing the course of governments, global warming, social reform, or much of anything else on a grand scale, we do affect the lives of each and every person we come into contact with – and what we do makes a difference.
I think of the example of Rahab the harlot. I always identify more with her type of person than Esther. Not because I’m promiscuous or a hooker, but because if I lived in biblical times I’m sure I wouldn’t be living as royalty. If I were in the palace I would probably be there to clean it rather than luxuriate.
So here we have Rahab who has three handicaps in the eyes of any self respecting Israelite. She was a Gentile which was considered pagan. She was a woman in a time when women had no rights. She was a prostitute which was the lowest form of a woman. Let’s just say she didn’t have a lot going for her. Yet she is listed among the faithful in Hebrews. (Hebrews 11:31)
When the Israelite spies entered her city of Jericho she risked her life to hide them. Not only did she hide them but she sent the soldiers looking for them on a wild goose chase. Then she helped the spies escape. (Joshua 2) The Bible doesn’t really tell us why she did this. Perhaps she had heard the stories of how the Israelite God had delivered his people time and time again. She obviously believed not only the stories but that such a God existed.
In return for her kindness she asked the spies to spare not only her life, but the lives of her family when they attacked. (Joshua 2:12-13) When Joshua and the Israelites attacked Jericho and the walls came tumbling down, the Israelites attacked and killed everything that breathed in the city – everything except Rahab and her family. (Joshua 6:22 – 27)
Now Rahab was only one person, yet because of her actions not only was she spared but her whole family as well. Her family did nothing to deserve deliverance. However, what she did affected their lives greatly. It made the difference between life and death.
As Christians we affect those around us. Our community watches if we stand up for what is right. Our unconverted spouses can be won over, not by preaching the gospel to them, but living it. (1 Peter 3:1) Our children watch every move we make and either learn how to love, be compassionate, and show kindness or how to hate and think only of themselves.
So does one person make a difference? Rahab did.
Perhaps the better question is do I make a difference?
Well, although President Obama won’t be counseling with me before he makes his next big decision I have a meager sphere of influence. So I guess the answer is yes. I do make a difference – or at least I should – especially to those closest to me.