How to Be a Tabitha | A Different Approach to Witnessing
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to have a multitude of people concerned about your well-being? To this, many of us could reply with, “I would be happy with at least a few.” I want to talk about a woman who was greatly loved by nearly a whole city, and not by anything she said but by what she did.
The account of Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, can be found in Acts 9 and consists of only 7 verses. And yet, in those few verses we can learn a beautiful lesson on generosity, love, and how to be an effective Christian. I’d recommend looking it up and giving it a quick read.
In short, Tabitha was a disciple of Jesus in the early days of the church. We don’t know her age or circumstances – perhaps she was a widow herself, or maybe she was the wife of a wealthy man, thus enabling her to do the things she did. The first verse of her story (v. 36) gives this wonderful epitaph of her, “This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” When she died, the widows and fellow disciples begged Peter to do something for her and through him, God returned her to life.
Deeds, Not Words
Personally, as a Christian, eager to be a witness, and a writer with a love for words, I am all about sharing the gospel through talking. (The evidence of which you are reading). It makes perfect sense to me. And yet Tabitha was a woman with a ministry who witnessed through her acts of kindness and not her ability to conjugate influential speech. Her life is a testament to the truth that it takes living the gospel to change lives, not just speaking about it.
The proof that your words are worth believing is found in your actions. Tabitha lived the gospel! Her life was a testament to its authenticity.
What Did She Gain?
In this world of self-sufficiency, the question of profit is not far from the mind of most. I have to say, as a small business owner, that taking into account the profit of every little thing is easily second nature.
You may not realize it but Tabitha made a profit – exponentially so. But her profit can’t be measured financially. God used her to reach a great many people (v. 42). In blessing others with her time and talents, she was being blessed in return.
Why Did She Love?
Tabitha believed that God loved her enough to save her from her just punishment, (John 3:16). The immeasurable love of God is poured out in us so that we can pour it into the lives of others. She loved because she was loved, and that overflow of this love was far reaching.
When we think of ministry we end up picturing well-developed organizations with founders, co-founders, presidents, and the like. We also might think of churches – pastors and teachers. We tend to consider the ministry an occupation for the few that God calls while the remaining contentedly listen on Sunday and return to normal life on Monday. And yet each of God’s children have the responsibility to be a personal witness of the gospel. The great commission Jesus gives to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 is not just for some but for all. Isaiah 43:10 says, “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He,” (NASB).
The Heart of Tabitha’s Ministry
Tabitha fulfilled her ministry through her acts of kindness. Notice these three things:
She had the desire, the heart.
She found the need among her own people.
God used her to save many.
It would be a mistake to think you have to go somewhere far away to be a witness when the hurting, needy, and lost are right here with you.
How to Be a Tabitha
It’s not impossible to for us to learn to act and respond to the needs of others like Tabitha. Here are two very simple points that make up the foundation of her ministry, and thus Jesus’ ministry as well, and will start you on the path of helping others as well.
1. Learn to love –
All ministry starts with the very basic quality of love. 1 Corinthians 13 lists many glorious human abilities that, without love, are completely useless. Cultivate a heart of love and you will be ready to be used of God.
2. Learn to do –
Look around you for a need. Don’t underestimate the impact even the tiniest act of kindness can have. There are needs right where you are, wherever that may be. Search for ways God can use you and trust me when I say, you will be a blessing to others and you will be blessed yourself.
Tabitha wasn’t a world leader, a famed activist, or renowned charitable millionaire. We don’t respect her because of any record-breaking achievement. What she did was love and help the needy in her most humble way, and the impact was tremendous.
Does this change the way you think about witnessing? Have you ever thought about the impact your actions have over your words? Keep this in mind as you go about your day and see if you don’t find ways to be an “active” witness.