Jump Start # 2489
Acts 9:36 “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”
The holiday season is upon us. One of the many traditions that so many have is watching Christmas shows. Often, we watch the same ones year after year. I do that. Have to get in Frosty, Rudolph, Grinch, then Christmas Carol and always, It’s a wonderful life. Kids today probably couldn’t stand five minutes of that because it’s in black and white and there’s too much talking. But what a great story line. It always makes one think. It’s more than, would I be missed if I died. What difference have I made in this world. What if, in the case of George Bailey, you had never been born.
Those thoughts take us to our verse today about Tabitha. We are not told much about her. Was she a widow like the others who surrounded her? Did she have children? In my mind she seems like a senior citizen, but that’s just me.
We notice three things about Tabitha:
First, she was a disciple. She believed Jesus. She belonged to Him. There were choices that made that possible. She worshipped with those early Christians. She longed for a heavenly home as all disciples do.
Second, she cared about others. She abounded in deeds of kindness and charity. She was generous. Kindness and giving go together. It’s hard to give when one isn’t kind. And, to be kind, naturally leads to doing kind things, such as giving. Later in the text, some of the widows were showing the garments that Tabitha made. I expect they were admiring the detail and the craftsmanship and the love that she poured into each garment.
Third, others reached out for her. She got sick. She died. Peter was called. Peter came. Peter brought her back to life. I’m sure the widows around her were so happy to have her back. I’m not certain that Tabitha was happy. The Bible doesn’t say. But once a person has made it safely to the other side, I don’t think that they would want to come back here. This place is a mess. Temptation, worries, stress, troubles, bad news, wickedness, problems—that’s every day on this side of life. But where she was, she didn’t have any of those things. Leave her be seems to be the best thing that Peter could have done. But the power of the Gospel and showing that God has all authority, even over death, it necessitated a few resurrections. Poor Tabitha had to come back and eventually, die again.
But what I find remarkable about this story is how she made a difference. George Bailey wondered that in “It’s a wonderful life.” Disciples shouldn’t have to wonder about that. Now, what Tabitha did wasn’t something uniquely Christian. Lots of people have made clothes through the years. It didn’t take being a disciple to do that. And, I expect she wasn’t the first one to ever give things away. Others have done things like that.
She wrote no books of the Bible. She never preformed a miracle. She never, as far as we know, met Jesus while He was on the earth. Nothing is said about her cooking for the apostles or letting them crash at her place. No spiritual gifts are mentioned. No prophecy. No starting a church in her house. No supporting the apostles financially. Nope. None of those things can be found in the text surrounding her.
What did she do? She made some clothes and with kindness, gave them to others. That doesn’t seem like a big deal. That hardly seems worth even mentioning in the Bible. A few widows were touched by her generosity. But what she did was make a difference to those few people around her. She had a talent and she found a way to use that talent to encourage others. She put the kingdom before others. I suppose she may have been able to sell those garments. She may have started a little side job of having her own dress shop. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
So, as a disciple are you making a difference where you are? Maybe you can’t preach. Maybe you can’t serve publically. Maybe you can’t go to foreign lands. Tabitha couldn’t do those things either. But to those widows she was special. They sent for Peter because of her. Don’t overlook little things, simple things or the things that anyone could do. So often, we think because anyone could do them, someone is. And, many times they are not. Sending a card, nothing spectacular about that except that it shows you care. Giving a gift card to a college student. Nothing hard about that. It shows that you care. Taking a family out to eat with you and paying for their meal. That won’t make the news, but it shows you care.
How about making some tunics? That’s what Tabitha did. The Bible doesn’t even say if they were made of purple, which was the color of wealth back then. Doubt it. She made and she shared. She touched the lives of others.
Maybe you can’t write a Jump Start. You can send it on to someone else. Maybe you can teach your friend, but you can find someone who can. Tabitha sewed. Maybe for you, it’s cooking. Maybe for you, it’s spending a Saturday helping someone move. Maybe it’s trying to fix someone’s car that won’t start. Maybe it’s babysitting for a few hours. Maybe it’s sitting with someone in a surgery waiting room. Maybe it’s dropping by and bringing the preacher some donuts as someone did for me today. Simple gifts. Acts of kindness. Showing that you care.
Now, when you put some years behind this and push this a bit, you’ll leave a long trail of doing good. And, the thing is, you often do not remember what you did. That’s the real secret of making this work. You do something nice and never say anything about it. I had gotten someone a few books years ago. Didn’t even remember it. When I saw him years later, he remembered. He was still thanking me. I had completely forgotten. I expect all over that little village and throughout that congregation, Tabitha had made all kinds of clothing for others. That’s what kind people do. They find something they can do and they just spend a lifetime doing it.
All of this is nothing more than letting our light shine. Using our talents to encourage and help others. Tabitha did it. You can do it. Don’t have a George Bailey moment where you wonder if you are making any difference. It ought to be apparent that you are. Lift up your eyes. Look around. There’s all kinds of folks that you can put a little sunshine into their day.
Way to go, Tabitha. You made a difference and Heaven saw that!