Most of us are just downright “ordinary.”
Most of us don’t perform concerts for thousands or write best-selling novels. The Bible says we all have gifts, but most of them aren’t spectacular. Yet God loves to use ordinary saints with non-spectacular gifts. Acts 9 tells us of an “ordinary” saint who used her gift to bless others.
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. Acts 9.36
Tabitha is Aramaic, Dorcas is the Greek version of the same name. In the early church, there were often tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers. The fact that both Greek and Aramaic names are mentioned means she probably reached out to both Jews and Gentiles in her church.
She was “full of good works and acts of charity” (alms deeds, or works done for the poor). She was “FULL” of these good works. Dorcas may have been a widow – the passage doesn’t mention a husband or children. But she was constantly serving those in need, particularly widows, who in those days were often among the poorest in society. Dorcas was full of good works to them. Until she got sick and died.
In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. (37)
Back then they didn’t always have funerals right away. They washed her body and placed her in an upper room. Then they hear that Peter is nearby – about 10 miles away in Lydda – and that God had used him in miraculous ways. So they send two men to urge him to come.
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. (38, 39)
This shows how precious Dorcas was to the church, that the disciples would send two men to beg Peter to come. When they arrive back in Joppa, they pass a houseful of people mourning on the way to the upper room where Dorcas’ body lay.
So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. (39)
Peter comes into the upper room and all the widows show him the robes and cloaks Dorcas made for them. Many are wearing garments she made. Others clutch them in their hands. They are all weeping, and showing them to Peter, saying things like, “Look what she made for me. When my husband died, I had no income and couldn’t afford clothes for winter but she made me this cloak.” Widow after widow crowds around Peter, weeping and showing him the fruit of Dorcas’ labor.
Why all this weeping? And why had the church sent men to urge Peter to come? It’s not like Paul the apostle had died. What does this show us? It shows HOW EXTRAORDINARY IT IS IN GOD’S EYES WHEN WE USE OUR ORDINARY GIFTS TO SERVE OTHERS.
Dorcas was an “ordinary” saint, “a disciple.” She wasn’t a leader or conference speaker. Her gift wasn’t “spectacular” – she wasn’t a prophetess, didn’t heal anybody. But her “ordinary” gift – sewing – was a major blessing to the church. If we had known her we might have said, “Dorcas, you are incredible, making these robes for these widows.” She probably would have said, “Oh it’s really nothing. It’s just my small way of helping.”
There are no “ordinary” gifts.
Every gift is from God. Every gift is supernatural and extraordinary. So use your gift! If you don’t know your gift, just serve in whatever way you can. Give someone a ride to church. Make a meal for someone. Help out in the work project at someone’s home. Just serve, no matter how mundane or ordinary your serving may seem.
But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (40-42)
God works a miracle and raises Dorcas to life. Peter calls her friends in and says, “Look who’s back.” Can you imagine the joy and celebrating? But after the celebrating dies down, I can see Dorcas heading home and starting to sew again, working on her next gift for a friend.