And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (ESV)
I love that James is talking about the redemption of a prostitute. I love it because it shows how awesome our God is. His love is for all who will place their faith in him. No sin is too large. No person is beyond the reach of our loving God. Rahab is an example of faith who is mentioned several times throughout Scripture.
Here is a brief summary of the story of Rahab. The people of Israel were about to destroy Jericho. They sent spies to check out the land. They met Rahab in the city and she hid them from the authorities who were looking for them. Because of what she did, her family was spared when the walls of Jericho fell.
James says that Rahab was justified by works. Again, this verse needs to be taken into the context of the rest of Scripture. These works that she did gave evidence of a faith that was already there. In fact, that is what works are, the evidence of faith. We know that Rahab already had faith. Let's go back to the book of Joshua where we read Rahab's words:
 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (ESV)
Rahab demonstrates proper faith in God in this verse. She put her faith into action and spared the lives of the Israelites. She could have turned them in. She also told members of her family to join her in her home so that they would be spared. All of those who had true faith joined her. Those who had a superficial faith, not backed up by actions, perished.
You may claim to have faith. Have you demonstrated to others that your faith is genuine by your actions?