I read an article in today's business section of the newspaper that Americans aren't saving money, and that the average household possesses flat screen tv's, satellite radios, and other expensive gadgets that were once considered "extras" and now are "necessities".
It prompted me to think of Tabitha of Joppa in the Book of Acts who was describes as "always doing good and helping the poor" (9:36). She had died. When the apostle Peter arrived in response to their urgent message, widows greeted him in tears and showed him the garments that Tabitha had made for them (9:39). Peter prayed after sending everyone out of the room and then commanded her to get up. And she did. It's a really short story, but I've been thinking about it a lot. Especially in light in the culture that I live in, and the materialism that prevades it.
The community of Christians in Joppa were not ready to give Tabitha up. They mourned her, they missed her terribly and weren't afraid to show it. I suppose believers died in Joppa all the time, and everyone buried them and said their good-byes. After all, being a disciple of Christ means that "to live is Christ and to die is gain". But Tabitha was different, they needed her. It wasn't what she did for people that made a difference, but I think the vitality of love that she manifested as she did it. She was possibly a woman who served God for the right reasons, and for her, a joy and pleasure.
When the widows showed Peter the hand made garments Tabitha created for them, I don't think they were average garments. There was something about them that was special enough to show Peter, and I'm guessing that the items of clothing were crafted with care and with skill. They were most likely top of the line. Tabitha probably dressed the widows well--maybe the best clothes they ever owned in their lives. Not flashy or overly embellished, but made of the best cloth available and custom made for each wearer. Probably a pleasure to put on and helped the widows know how much God loved them when they walked through the street. Yes, the way to a woman's heart is through her wardrobe. All this was from Tabitha's own hand and out of her own pocket. Tabitha exemplified the admonition from 1 Timothy 6:17-19 for the wealthy to be "rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."
I love stories in the Bible, they help me internalize the truth in my heart. And I know that the Holy Spirit speaks to me through them. Lately, God has been telling me about love in action, faith shown through works, and to be "...steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1Cor 15:58 I've needed these messages, as I feel sucked in by the world constantly.