Usually the Dorcas Society is made up of women. When a man joins, it is news. This story, has to do with a minister who became an active member. His presence brought new life and great encouragement to the society.
There is much 'that a minister can do by way of strengthening the Dorcas Society. Women, like other mortals, become weary with the endless task of aiding folks, many of whom are unworthy and unthankful. Ministerial recognition and assistance can help to bring back to the society some of the joys and thrills of service.
This brings us to the story of the man who joined, at Joppa. According to the record, the first Dorcas- Society was at this seaport town. The society was named after its first president, whose name means gazelle. Dorcas performed her tasks day by day with swiftness and grace. No wonder the community called her Gazelle.
One day the Dorcas Society in Joppa suffered a great setback. The president became ill and died. It might have been overwork, or lack of encouragement, but from whatever cause, she was dead. It would have been an easy matter to have the funeral and bury the society with Dorcas. But the folks at Joppa did nothing of the kind. They sent for a preacher, an apostle, Peter by name.
Peter could have turned the call down, but he evidently considered the work of the Dorcas Society of value. When he came to Joppa he joined the society. He lent a hand to the president, as any minister should do. The society was resurrected. Does this sound strange? Read the account from Acts 9:36-42.
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas [Margin, "Doe, or Roe"): this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay [Margin, "be grieved") to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha. arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa ; and many believed in the Lord."
The Joppa society must have been a good one, because the Scriptures say of the president that she was "full of good works and almsdeeds which she did." Joppa probably was not the easiest place in which to have such a society. "Joppa" means "beauty," but this town was a seaport, and the usual transient disturbing elements probably passed through it. Nevertheless, in spite of the unfavorable environment, Dorcas did a great work in this community. When Peter joined the society, and the president *as resurrected, "many believed in the Lord," according to verse forty-two.
One of the reasons Peter's joining the Dorcas Society did so- much good in Joppa was that Dorcas "was full of ... almsdeeds which she did." She worked for all. Anyone in need was her beneficiary. At least there is no record of her turning anyone away. When she died, Joppa was sad. Among the mourners were widows and saints. Some of the widows were undoubtedly not saints, and some of the saints were probably not the kind of saints which they should have been. Whether they were worthy or unworthy, Dorcas ministered to their needs.
Peter's work would not have been so productive of good in Joppa had not the Dorcas Society served unstintingly. It was not easy to work for the thankless, but their very need was a challenge to the Joppa society. When folks were in need, the society gave. When the society was in need, it reaped what it had sown. It reaped abundantly, for Dorcas was resurrected. "Many believed in the Lord." What a harvest for well-doing!
If the apostle Paul had been called to Joppa instead of Peter, he would have said: "Let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Gal. 6: 9, 10.
It is not so difficult to give assistance to the "household of faith," but many have difficulty in remembering the "all men." Jesus left the perfect example of service for all. He loved all men. This ideal was set forth by Him in the parable of the good Samaritan. The wounded man was given aid without being asked to which church he belonged.
Jesus taught the same principle by personal example, as he organized the nucleus of the apostolic church. There were twelve members. One was a devil. Yet Jesus did not refuse to serve the one who was unworthy. Jesus healed the ten lepers. Nine were unworthy; yet He healed them all that He might win the one who would afterward voice thankfulness.
Peter answered the call from Joppa. He went ; he knelt and prayed; he lent a hand. And behold, a miracle followed. God put His stamp of approval upon the Dorcas Society at Joppa by a resurrection. There were two conditions that made this miracle possible. First, Peter was in touch with resurrecting power. Second, Dorcas was "full of good works and almsdeeds which she did." It seemed that God could honor the meeting of two such persons with nothing short of a notable miracle. As a glorious result of Peter's joining hands with Dorcas, "many believed in the Lord."