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God’s Word for You

Acts 9:36 Buttons and buttonholes

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

36 Now there was a disciple in Joppa named Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was full of good works, especially doing acts of charity.

The church was still very young. Down on the coast of Judea, in the seaport of Joppa, was a woman who was a disciple, a follower of Jesus by faith. She heard the message of the gospel and put her faith to work in her life to support the people of the church of Christ. Her choice was a good one: to do what she was already good at. This must have involved many different things, since she “was full of good works,” but Luke points out “acts of charity” in particular. She did this tirelessly and continuously; we know this because Luke employs a verb tense known as the imperfect, which shows that the action was done not once, but continuously. In verse 39, Luke will tell us that much of this charitable work was in the making of clothes.

To most people, and perhaps especially to most men, the making and mending of clothing is a miracle all its own. Setting aside Adam and Eve’s first attempt at making coverings with leaves, it was God himself who introduced the idea of more permanent clothing for the human race: “The LORD God made garments of leather for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Anyone who is not gifted with nimble or steady sewing fingers should learn to appreciate those who are. Sewing a button, or harder still, a buttonhole, are praiseworthy deeds. Tabitha did these things and more for the glory of God and to honor Jesus Christ. This is the true reason that we do all good works. Our faith is shown by the things that we do. James put it in negative terms: “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). We can also put that into positive terms: “Faith with deeds is alive.” It is not the deeds that save us; it is Christ who saved us through his blood shed on the cross. The other way of reversing the passage from James would be to say: “Deeds without faith are dead.” There are no good works that can be done that have any value to God apart from those that are done with faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Deeds done from faith give glory to God. They are an opportunity given to us to show our love for Christ and to further the work of the church.

Whether you contribute dollars to your church, or hours of your time, or sew buttons and buttonholes, do it all for the glory of God and out of thanks to Jesus your savior.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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