Monday, February 2, 2015
Pleading With God
Acts 9:39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Dorcas, also known as Tabitha, was a disciple and a very good woman. Saddened by her death the women came in to mourn the loss of this one from their community. When Peter arrived the widows were overcome with their grief and, not knowing quite how to respond, were pleading with God. They were trying to intercede with God on behalf of this one who had died, praying for him to look upon her life and her good works. While their own hearts may have been filled with gratitude for all that she had done for them, they were also hoping that God would look upon her good works and have mercy. Dorcas had been a generous woman who had used her talents and abilities to help the poor. She had sewn clothing for them, using what she had to help others. Surely God would look upon her good works and save her.
The response of the widows is not all that uncommon. I think of all the times that I have been around those whose loved ones are dying and they are trying to plead, or bargain with God. I remember the father of a teenager who was dying with cancer taking the pastor aside and saying, “I’ll start tithing now, if only God will save my son.”
The widows were standing beside Peter and showing him all that Dorcas had made for them. She was a good woman. She had done many good things, but that was not the point. Let’s read on:
40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.
Could it be that he put them outside so that there would be no distraction from the real business of faith? Peter stepped into the role of Jesus Christ in that very moment and was interceding as one who was a partaker of the divine nature. Becoming like Christ for both Dorcas and Peter was the goal, not doing good works. The good works were the result of a life lived in Christ. F. F. Bruce points out that when Jesus healed the little girl he said in aramaic, “Talitha cum.” In this case, if Peter spoke in aramaic he would have said, “Tabitha cum,” only one letter different from the exact words of Christ. The miracle was seen in Christlikeness, not in good works.
Pleading with God to see our good works will get no response. The widows were asked to leave the room. Their pleadings were to be no distraction to the real work of God. Our good works should never distract us from God’s true intent for our lives. The goal for our lives is unity with Christ and everything else can simply become a distraction, unless it comes from the outpouring of his love through us. Dorcas, or Tabitha had experienced that love and in this particular moment God chose to use her death and life as a sign of his unending compassion for all of humanity.
Lord, may there be no distractions from your love today. Amen.