DORCAS THE DOER, PART I
Happy 2018! This is a very special year in the life of Friends Needing Friends. All year we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of this great ministry to widows around the world. I have been associated with FNF for 29 years, and never cease to be amazed at the wonderful things God has wrought through it. So, to honor the lives and work of women from the Bible, for the next few weeks we want to look at the ministry of a woman from the New Testament known as Dorcas.
James 1:22 says this, But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
In Acts 9:36-42 we read the account of a woman who personified this verse beautifully. She is known by two names: Tabitha (which is Aramaic) and Dorcas (which is Greek). For our purposes here I will be referring to her as Dorcas.
Let me summarize her story for you:
Dorcas lived in the town called Joppa and was known for her good deeds, especially to widows. What did she do that earned her so much attention? She stitched clothing for them. Yet, at some point, she became sick and died. After Dorcas’s body was washed and put in a cool upstairs room, the disciples sent for Peter who was ministering in the general area. When he arrived back at her house, he found the widows crying and they showed him all the clothing that Dorcas had made for them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and began to pray, then he turned to the corpse of Dorcas and told her to get up.
Let me give you a little context before we continue. Joppa was a seaport and many sailors’ widows and children would have lived there. The small wooden boats of that time were not particularly seaworthy, especially if a storm came up and they were caught a distance from shore, This would create widows of many women. Even though Christ changed the status of women and some women were church founders (Lydia), disciples of Christ (Mary Magdalene), and even prophetesses (Phillip’s daughters), women were far from equal in the dominant culture. Widows were especially vulnerable and were often dependent on the largess of the local community or synagogue. The Christian believers had many such individuals and Dorcas made sure their needs were met.
We know little about the background of Dorcas herself. Some feel that she may have been wealthy because the fabric out of which to make the clothing was costly. She may have been a widow but this too is speculation. However, what we do know is that the Scripture refers to her as a “certain disciple.” This includes her among the numerous disciples mentioned in the New Testament. The writer, Melanie Newton, reminds us that part of our story of faith is how we are living it out on a daily basis. Dorcas was a woman who knew her talents, or what she did well, and she shared that gift to minister to the needy widows in Joppa.
Her main tool was a simple needle. This was many years before even the crudest sewing machine was ever invented. This was tedious work, yet day in and day out she ministered to the needs of the destitute, demonstrating her love for God and for them with each stitch.
|God choose her needle to show HIS GLORY.
You see God created each of us with abilities and they are embedded in our DNA. Some of the more obvious ones are musical talents, artistic abilities, math wizards, wordsmiths, sensitive spirit, etc. and these abilities will develop further as we mature. Out of these various talents can come good works that we can use to help and bless others. You see whatever you can do, God wants you to use it to be his channel of grace to others. I know a retired nurse who, because of her medical background, offers her services to some of the chronically ill in our church community. In addition, she offers her time to visit people in the hospital. I know another woman who, besides making beautiful clothing for her family, sews the costumes for the large drama productions her church presents each Easter and Christmas. When I was an actor in these large productions, my stage make-up was skillfully applied by a professional make-up artist. These women all were donating their gifts to help further the kingdom of God. Yes, even applying stage make-up can be used to enhance God’s work because many people came to know Christ through these productions.
What talents do you possess?
Where do you see a need in your community, church, or family?
What can you do to meet that need?
Dorcas’s legacy to each of us is one of not just possessing a skill, but using it to help others, all the while being Christ’s hands extended.
|Message by Shari Hervold
Sit back and enjoy the wonderful music of Southern Gospel,
"Why Me Lord" by Guy Penrod.
"The Cross Made a Difference in Me" by Guy Penrod
"Amazing Grace" by Guy Penrod