Only a few verses in the book of Acts are dedicated to the life of Tabitha. But much can be gleaned from her example of faith from such a short passage. Through her extravagant generosity and most wonderfully, her resurrection from the dead, the good news of the gospel spread in the early church.
The story of Tabitha is found in Acts 9:36-43. Here, we learn that Tabitha was a disciple of Christ who lived in Joppa, an important seaport in the ancient world and now a suburb of Tel Aviv. From what can be gathered from the passage, Tabitha was a woman of resources who “was always doing good and helping the poor.”
An Example of Faith
Tabitha was a follower of Christ, embracing him as both her Savior and Lord. Knowing who she was in Christ (known, seen, heard, and purposed), she was free to live out her faith through a life of generosity and good works. Her faith wasn’t just something she believed in her head. It was the motivation guiding all she did. Where your faith lies (whether in the Lord, money, security, etc.) always shows itself in how you live.
If faith without works is dead (James 2:26), then Tabitha’s faith was vibrant and fully alive. Using the gifts God had given her, Tabitha cared for others less fortunate. Good works flowed naturally from her faith in the One who was the ultimate example of generous love and service.
Always Doing Good
Knowing she was blessed to be a blessing, Tabitha used her financial resources, time, home, and talent of sewing to make clothing and robes for the poor in her community. Her widow friends literally wore evidence of the way Tabitha lived out the gospel. Though she could have stored up wealth for herself, Tabitha lived a radical life of generosity.
Good works weren’t something Tabitha did when she felt like it or when her church planned a service project. The passage says she was always doing good. Good works defined who she was. Her faith was integrated into the fabric of her being. Making beautiful clothes for the poor wasn’t a showy display of generosity for all to see. Yet her simple acts of service were extremely meaningful to the recipients.
God’s Generosity to His People
The disciples and widows were stricken with grief when Tabitha became sick and died. Hearing the apostle Peter was in a nearby town, the disciples urged him to come at once. When Peter arrived, the widows showed him all the wonderful clothes Tabitha had made. The lasting impact of her generosity was clearly evident.
In a miraculous display of God’s power, Peter prayed, and God raised Tabitha back to life. However, it wasn’t Tabitha who was rescued in this story (she had entered paradise!), but God showed His generous love and provision to those who loved her by returning her to them for a while.
As news of this miracle spread, many put their trust in the Lord. Like Christ, through Tabitha’s life and death many came to believe in the One who brings new life.
More in 2024
In this new year, how can you more fully use what God has given you to be a blessing to others? What gifts or talents can you use for the Kingdom?
May the spirit of Tabitha live on in and through you as you seek to live and give more generously in 2024.