As the church began to spread—as Jesus predicted—“in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV), new believers took up the faith and ministry of Jesus. Among these was Dorcas—also known as Tabitha—in the city of Joppa. She obviously took seriously Jesus’ particular instruction that when clothing the naked, she was doing it for Jesus Himself (see Matt. 25:38, Matt. 25:40).
Read the description of Dorcas and her ministry in Acts 9:36. How might your life and ministry be described in a similar format to this verse? How would you like to be described?
It seems that Dorcas’s ministry was such that the description of her as a “disciple” (see Acts 9:36) and her faithfulness, energy, and focus on others were recognized even beyond her hometown.
Peter was visiting the nearby town of Lydda, and the people of Joppa asked him to come in response to Dorcas’s untimely death (see Acts 9:37-41). On his arrival in Joppa, Peter was met by many of the people Dorcas had helped through her work for the poor. They showed him the clothes that she had made and undoubtedly told him many stories of how she had helped them and others.
That Peter then prayed for Dorcas and God returned her to life is, of course, no guarantee that life will always work out well for those who devote their lives to serving others. After all, Dorcas had already suffered illness and death, and Stephen, one of those first deacons appointed to minister to the widows in the church, had also become the first martyr (see Acts 7:54-60). A life of service is not a smooth path; at times it could even be the rougher road.
However, in this story God used the recognition of His love and power in both Dorcas’s life and death to make a strong impact on the people of Joppa: “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42, NIV).
|If you were to pass away, would your contribution be mourned and missed like the ministry of Dorcas was remembered and mourned? How can we leave a better legacy of service? What practical skills do you have—like Dorcas’s skills with making garments—that you might use in service to others?|