God’s Word for You
Acts 9:39 Shirts and dresses
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, February 20, 2020
39 So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the upper room. All the widows stood there beside him, weeping and showing the shirts and dresses they were wearing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Forgive my modernization, “shirts and dresses.” The chiton is really the tunic, the article worn next to the body. We might call it a T-shirt today. The himation is the cloak (for a man) or dress worn over the top of the chiton. These are the garments Jesus talked about when he said, “If someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your cloak as well” (Matthew 5:40).
This group of women took Peter by the hand and led him upstairs to where poor Tabitha’s body lay resting. As they gathered around, they explained to Peter what she had done for them, one after another. They were all wearing things that she had made. This shirt, this dress, and this dress, and that one too. She kept making and making, sewing and sewing, because it was her great gift. She was good at it, and although she could have found her way into a palace being well-paid for her talent, she put her gift to use for the sake of God’s people. And truly, she put her gift to use for the sake of God. It was Jesus for whom she was sewing. She made clothes for his followers, her spiritual sisters and brothers.
When you do the things you do out of love for Jesus, do you think about Jesus as you do it? If you sing in a choir, don’t forget that Jesus listens to you as you sing and even as you rehearse. Do you change garbage cans and sweep or vacuum floors? Do you scrub toilets? Don’t forget that this is what Jesus did with our sins, scrubbing away the worst of our filth, every last speck of uncleanness, with his own blood, sanitizing us with his own righteousness. Without that work of Jesus Christ, we would remain filthy, creating more and more filth every day, the way human garbage cans and floors and even toilets get filthy all over again, day after day. The human work of cleaning up after humans goes on and on, but Christ’s work of cleaning up humanity’s sin is completed, done and finished.
Do you restore furniture, mend torn clothes, paint houses, or fix up old cars? All of these tasks involve preparing whatever needs fixing up or sprucing up. Remember that this is like repentance in the human heart. Jesus uses the law to condemn sin in our hearts, and then he turns us back to him so that we want to turn away from our sins. This is like all of the scraping, sanding, dusting, seam-ripping, or removing broken parts in so many human occupations. Then the new item is brought in, or the new paint or varnish, and this is the seal of the gospel. The gospel makes us renewed, revitalized, and reborn in Jesus.
You might be an artist or a poet, you might arrange flowers, or you might collect chicken eggs. You might bake goodies for your friends. Maybe you’re a mom who just struggles to get your kids to school on time every day. Maybe your life is an endless cycle of making meals, washing dishes, washing clothes, folding and putting clothes away, tending for sick little ones, paying bills, and seeing to all the little details of little lives. Maybe you’re a student trying your best to pass your classes and not be too homesick. All of these things are good works, things we do in life out of love for Jesus. Keep doing them and give glory to God with what you do! Tabitha (Dorcas) did the things she did for the same reason. Maybe nobody really appreciated what she did until she died, but God knew. God appreciated her. God loved her so much that he gave his Son Jesus to forgive her sins, to place faith in her heart, and to prepare a place for her in heaven. But in Tabitha’s case, there was just one more very special blessing yet to come…
Pastor Timothy Smith