She isn’t that well-known as far as women of the Bible go. She doesn’t have the notoriety of Ruth, Esther, Sarah, or Mary; but she is important. And she has an important lesson for us today.
“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, ‘Please come at once!'”Acts 9:36-38, NIV 84
Tabitha was her Aramaic name, which is probably what she was known by. Dorcas was the translation in Greek, which is what Luke was writing in because Greek became a common language among the people of that time.
Tabitha was a disciple of Christ known for “doing good and helping the poor.” We already know that many women followed Jesus as His disciples. They sat at His feet, learned from Him, and supported Him out of their own means (Luke 8:1-3).
But here we see a woman who was known not just as a believer but as one who truly served others. Her love for Christ and for her brothers and sisters compelled her to put that love into action and do something.
Tabitha could have reasoned that since she wasn’t a leader like Priscilla (Acts 18), a church planter like Lydia (Acts 16:11-15, 40), or a prophetess like one of Phillip’s daughters (Acts 21:8-9), then she had nothing to give.
No, she used the abilities she did have to serve God–so much so that her death was a huge blow to the new community of faith.
“Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.”Acts 9:39
Maybe Dorcas couldn’t lead worship, write a book, or grace a stage with a speaking gift, but she could sew. And she used that gift to serve God and the people around her.
They mourned her loss because her presence and her heart and her gifts were important to their community. She blessed people. Her love made others’ lives better. And that matters.
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.”Acts 9:40-41
You know, not every person who died during the early church ministry was raised back to life. But Tabitha was. Her ministry was so significant that the disciples felt the need to call on Peter. And Peter felt the need to call on God.
I don’t know what your gifts, talents, or abilities are, but I know this: God will honor what you have when you offer it in His name. You don’t have to feel confident or be successful. He just calls us to be faithful (1 Corinthians 15:58).
And He alone determines the gifts and abilities He gives (Romans 12:18). Our job is to use them in service to Him and others, trusting Him with the results.
“This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.”Acts 9:42
Wow! God used Tabitha’s life to draw many people to Him. That’s the ultimate use of any abilities God has given us. All because she was willing to use what she had–needle, thread, and a willing heart.
What gift or ability has God given you? Maybe you can cook, pray, or give great hugs. As my friend says, “Nothing is wasted in God’s Kingdom.” Big or small, God can do great things with a heart devoted to Him. Surrender what you have, and let Him use it for His glory.