I haven’t thought too much about her since high school, but I’d say she has been a mentor — she set the pattern for how I wanted to live my life. Her name was Dorcas, and her story can be found in Acts 9:36-42. I would be willing to bet that you’ve never heard a sermon on the life of Dorcas, and that is precisely why I look up to her. She led a quiet life, just like I do. She wasn’t famous, and didn’t aspire to be. She was quite content to quietly serve the church and her community, which is just what I want to do with my life. There are a few specific things about Dorcas that I’d like to highlight.
1. She was hospitable (Hebrews 13:2).
The local church of Joppa probably met in Dorcas’ home. If they didn’t meet there weekly, they knew the house,and the woman well. The men of the town knew the layout of the house well enough to know that Dorcas had an upstairs room, and they knew where it was.
2. She was devoted to good deeds and to helping the poor (1 Peter 3:8,9; Titus 3:8; Galatians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58; James 1:27; Proverbs 31:20).
Dorcas practiced pure and true religion, which, according to James 1:27, is helping widows and further in James 2:15-16, we see that true faith will provide for the needy. Dorcas did this very thing. She lived in the seaport town of Joppa, where there were many poor widows on account of the dangerous fishing trade. We see from the story in Acts that Dorcas made robes and other clothing for the widows. Having only the Old Testament to guide her, she no doubt knew God’s many special provisions for the lonely and the widows of the land, and she was quick to “extend her hand to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20).
3. She loved, and was loved (John 13:35).
In the story of Dorcas, we see that when Dorcas’ friends heard that Peter was just a couple towns over, they sent two men to him to urge him to come at once. When he got there, the widows were weeping over Dorcas’ body. This was a well-loved woman.
How about us? What can we learn from Dorcas? Are we welcoming and hospitable? Are our lives marked by sacrificial service and helpfulness? Do you know of the needs in your community and your church? Have you thought and prayed about how you could help? Are you showing love to others? As Christians, we don’t live to please men, but if a lot of people don’t like you, that says something about your relationship with God. We don’t need to strive for fame or glory, but we do need to strive to be people who please God. We need to strive to be faithful in the little things (Matt. 25:23).
Dorcas’ story encourages me in this way: her story reminds me that I don’t need to be well-known or even famous. I don’t need to be influential in the lives of many to be significant for God’s glory. Luke 15:10 assures us that the angels in Heaven rejoice when just one sinner repents. I don’t have to have a worldwide radio ministry or any high-profile ministry in order to please God and hear God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . .” Pleasing God is about being faithful in the little things. We aren’t all called to be missionaries in Africa or to dig wells in Cambodia, but we are all called to be faithful to share the Gospel and to love our neighbors and to take care of our families.