We read about Dorcas in Acts 9:36-43. Dorcas is a Greek name meaning “gazelle,” and Tabitha is the Aramaic version of the same name. Dorcas was a disciple of Jesus the Christ who lived in Joppa. She was known for her good works and for helping those in need. Acts 9:36 says that “she was always doing good and helping the poor.” When she became sick and died, those who knew her deeply missed her and mourned for her. Fortunately, Peter was able to raise her from the dead by the power of God and she was able to continue doing good works for many more years. Dorcas is a good example of how the life of every Christian believer should be – full of a living faith which manifests itself in good works for others and God.
1. Dorcas was always doing good. She is described not merely as a follower of Christ or as a believer in Christ, but as a disciple of Christ. What’s the difference? To be a disciple of Jesus the Christ means that one is a learner of His and seeks to imitate Him in words and deeds. When Jesus was here on earth, He was always doing good. Since Dorcas was a disciple of His, she imitated Him by always doing good, also. Some athletes say, “All I do is win!” Jesus would say, “All I do is good.” Acts 10:38 says that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, and “He went around doing good.”
As believers in – and therefore, disciples of – Jesus the Christ, we should always be looking for opportunities to do good. And we don’t have to look far. Opportunities to do good are all around us. Doing good isn’t something that we should do occasionally. It is something that should be a daily part of our lives and of our character. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.”
We do not gain faith by doing good works, but because we have faith we do good works. Dorcas didn’t just talk about her faith. She showed her faith. James 2:14-17 is quite clear in this regard: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Dorcas saw people who needed clothes and did something to meet that need. She picked up a needle and started sewing. What good works are we doing for others today?
2. Dorcas was always helping the poor. It is obvious that Dorcas was living a fairly good life. She knew Jesus. She was part of a community of Christian believers. She, however, was not content to live her good life while letting the poor suffer. And we should not be content either. In Galatians 2:10, we are told to remember the poor. When we are generous and give to the poor, we are actually giving to the Lord.
Our religion is not acceptable to God if we do not help others who may be lacking materially, physically, educationally, or spiritually. The religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is one that look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).
3. Dorcas left behind a legacy of love. Dorcas’ death was a huge loss to those who knew her. The widows and other believers cried over her as if she were their own sister or daughter or mother. They loved her so much because she had loved them while she was living. Her love was evidenced by her good works which they remembered by showing the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
It isn’t something that most people care to think about often, but one day, we too are going to die. Will people miss us when we’re gone? At our funeral, will we be remembered for doing good works and helping the poor? Will our legacy be one of love for God and others as Dorcas’ legacy was?
4. Dorcas caused many people to believe in the Lord. Dorcas being raised from the dead was all God’s doing. When Peter presented her alive to the believers, her resurrection became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. When unbelievers saw the power of God at work in Dorcas’ life they were moved to believe in Him. We should make sure that we are living a pleasing and faithful life to the Lord, so that His power will abound in our lives and lead many to faith in Jesus the Christ.