10. DORCAS - a kind Christian
"Dorcas… was always doing good and helping the poor" (Acts 9:36).
Luke is conscious of marginalised people in Luke-Acts. He makes us
aware of the Lord's ministry to woman, and their ministry in his
service (see Lk.7:34; 10:38-42). In a man's world, he opens his Gospel
with a searchlight on Mary and Elizabeth (Lk.1-2). Mary, the mother of
Jesus, calls herself 'the Lord's servant' (Lk.1:38).
Consider the person
Dorcas (which means 'Gazelle'; Tabitha in Aramaic) is only mentioned in
Acts 9:36-43. She may have been a wealthy woman or, at least, one with
connections with the wealthy. Some scholars suggest she was a convert
of Philip the evangelist, who may have pioneered a church in Joppa.
(That Philip undertook a far-reaching evangelistic tour is indicated by
Acts 8:40.) Dorcas was known for her good works and kindness to the
Study the Scriptures
God reveals a concern for orphans and widows in the Old Testament (see
Psas.68:5; 146:9). In the Mosaic law God instructed his people to care
for them (e.g., Dt.24:19-22; 26:12). The New Testament church sought to
"look after orphans and widows in their distress" (Jam.1:27; 1
Tim.5:3). Dorcas is an example of how the New Testament church applied
the Scriptures in a positive, practical way. Married or not, she
qualifies to be a woman of noble character (see Prov.31:10-31).
1. Acts teaches us that Christ continues his ministry by the
power of his Spirit through his church, which is his body. How can we
be the hands of the Lord?
2. Dorcas was Christ-like (compare Acts 9:38 with 10:38). She
demonstrates her faith by her works (Jam.2:14-18).
3. Sometimes evangelical Christians are criticised for being
too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use. Is this true? Can we be
afraid of 'good works'? (Consider Eph.2:8-10; Rev.19:8).
4. Although we are not saved by works, it is obvious that God
expects his people to reflect his kindness (Mt.5:44-48). God recognises
good deeds, and will judge Christian works. He knows the motive behind
the things we do (Rom.2:6-11).
Apply some thoughts
1. More and more churches are developing social awareness,
opening centres for care and counselling. What ministry could you and
your church bring to your community?
2. What caring professions should Christians consider as a
career or vocation?
3. Which Christian organisations are devoted to caring? How
can we support them?