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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Greatness

and gifts.

Joshua 6:22–25

But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Joshua makes sure that Israel keeps the promise it made to Rahab. She and all her family are spared.

But it gets better. Rahab becomes a part of the covenant—a very important part. She’s King David’s great-grandmother.

Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. — Matthew 1:5–6a

This is a simple yet beautiful example of the LORD’s long term plans. It also shows how anyone can become great in the kingdom of heaven.

But there’s one more twist, and this one might be the most glorious—Rahab never loses the label “harlot.” Rahab the great is still “Rahab the harlot.”

The Bible doesn’t just allow for people’s “warts,” it embraces them. Scripture’s greatest heroes aren’t perfect; they’re normal people who do great things. Normal people have normal faults and scripture seems to make a big point of showing those faults.

This completes the picture of how anyone can become great in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone.


Greatness in the kingdom of heaven comes more from gifts than from talents. The problem is how to tell them apart.

Our personalities are formed when we’re very young, long before we are given any spiritual gifts. Our talents ground our self-image. We see ourselves in terms of our natural gifts, not our spiritual ones.

But the Holy Spirit brings in something new, something magnificent. (See 1 Corinthians 12:7–11, 27–30 and Romans 12:6–8.) It takes a while to even recognize it’s there, much less figure out exactly what it is (especially if your “package” includes multiple gifts).

Others can see our gifts far better than we can. The best way to determine your gifts might be to buy your pastor lunch. There you can just ask, “What are my spiritual gifts?”

Be prepared to be surprised.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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