Monday, July 22, 2013

Chasing History: Dorcas - Love Was in Her Hands

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12: 9-13

There are so many passages in scripture that speak to us about love – specifically about what loving one another looks like. If we love we will share, we will care, we will speak kindly, we will have patience, we will lay down our life for another. These acts of doing bring action to love. They make love become the verb that it should be. When they are done in the name of Christ and in the spirit of helping our brothers and sisters in Christ – and even those who are not – that love becomes a testimony to God’s glory and is an instrument to draw others to Him.

We all know people like that, don’t we? Those who are good with their hands; those whose gifts lie in their ability to make and to give – and they seem to do it with an easy grace that makes abundance seem like a natural outflowing of their lives. They are great cooks who are ready to bring a meal when someone is sick or laid up; they are beautiful seamstresses who create beautiful clothes to share or costumes for the children’s plays; they are an indispensable masseuse who’s hands being relief and healing to aching, tired muscles; they are the kind friend who pulls us aside with a cup of coffee, sits quietly at our side, and wipes away our tears when our hearts are breaking. Where would we be without the gift of these who give with their hands?

For the new church growing in Joppa that we read about in Acts, Dorcas (also called Tabitha in the Aramaic) was that kind of person. She was a disciple who is described as always doing good and helping the poor. Dorcas used her hands to create things – she made clothing for those who were too poor to make or purchase their own. Caring for the poor and widowed was called for in the Jewish culture, but Dorcas’ commitment to the cause must have been exemplary and extraordinary for her to be remembered for this special gift. So much so that when her unexpected passing came, her community was devastated.

Imagine a spirit like that – not just a generous giving of material things – but surely a generosity of spirit surrounded her like a sweet perfume. Dorcas was the kind of person you wanted to be around because you could see God in action in her life. They were not ready to let her go.

Photo by saviodm
The disciples of Joppa heard that Peter was nearby in Lydda and sent two of their men to ask him to come immediately. When he arrived, imagine the scene – the people gathered in the home where she was laid out. They were in mourning, but also, they shared with Peter the testimony of the life of woman who was laid out to rest.

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 9:39b

All these women whose lives had been touched and been made better by the hand-made gifts of one woman. They wanted a chance to share this with Peter. I wonder if this community realized how large her influence had been; how many lives she had touched, until they were all gathered there together to mourn her passing. I’m sure there wasn’t a single dry eye in the house. This woman had moved people.

The Bible doesn’t go into a lot of detail about what happens next. It tells us that Peter asked all the people to leave the room; that he prayed; and then he turned to the dead woman and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then he called the believers and widows back into the room and presented her to them alive. What rejoicing there must have been. Dorcas gave her life in service to God and He returned her life to her to show His love for her and His glory through her. Her community of believers and all of Joppa would know that she had been brought back by the power of the risen Christ and testimony would draw others to Him. All because she chose to show love through acts of kindness with her hands.

Hands. Made for loving, serving, praising, giving, sharing. Our hands can be instruments for God’s glory if we allow Him to use them – as He uses all of us, in all ways, with our whole lives – in service for Him. If we let Him, our hands can proclaim good news to the poor … bind up the brokenhearted … proclaim freedom for the captives … proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor … and comfort all who mourn (from Isaiah 61:1-2).

What will you allow God to do through your hands?

I'm Chasing History again today with Just One Girl and the ones who are writing about women in the Bible. Come on over and share with us. We're a community coming together to talk about the stories He has written!


  1. Lovely post! I've read this story hundreds of times and never really thought about the tangible impact Dorcas had on her community. I can picture all the townspeople there mourning her and pointing out the clothes she had made for them. Beautiful!

    1. Thanks Kim! This has been such a terrific learning journey - full of encouragement.

  2. a wonderful post

    1. Thank you sweet husband - and for checking on this for me as well ♥

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you K! I really enjoyed learning her story again!

  4. This is beautiful reminder that He wants to use us, our hands to touch others. Will I let Him use me ? That is the question

    1. Isn't it though, Amy? I ask Him to show me ways every day. Thank you for stopping by!


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