If you thought of the great preachers in the Bible you’d have to think of people like Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus. One woman is mentioned in the Bible for the sermons she lived, rather than those she preached. The book of Acts describes her as “full of good works and charitable deeds,” and when Peter arrived in the coastal town of Joppa a group of widows, mourning the loss of Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) showed Peter “the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them” (Acts 9:36-42).
It’s interesting Dorcas was known for her charity, her deeds of kindness. Clearly, the Holy Spirit wanted readers of the Bible to recognize that deeds of kindness are important to God and are a significant part of the Christian experience.
A church at which I was on the pastoral staff was blessed to have a dedicated team of deacons, and among them was a young man named Jerry. Like Dorcas, Jerry wasn’t know for sermons he preached. Jerry was a quiet, unassuming guy, who was a joy to be around owing to his positive outlook and pleasant disposition. Jerry was a servant—his father has been a deacon at the same church for 40 years. Jerry was living that same life of service. When he died suddenly at the age of 36, he had been a deacon for 17 years.
Jerry’s mother had died suddenly only 21 months before. His death was a tragedy in multiple ways. And his death created a crisis, as Jerry’s uncle explained to me:
“When the time of remembrance came to honor Jerry many of the residents of the little town where he lived testified to Jerry’s helpful and caring attitude. It was stated repeatedly that his absence has created a crisis there. Many of the elderly and those of compromised health depended upon Jerry to be there for them and help them in times of need. He made sure they arrived to their doctors appointments on time, he helped keep their medical records in order, carried their groceries for them, tilled their gardens, helped with weeding, harvesting and processing food for winter, and a lot more. Most of the services Jerry rendered he never got paid for. He did what he did because he loved the people. A year ago at a community social the people presented Jerry with an award as the beloved citizen of their town. A memorial in town square in honor of Jerry has been established. This is the first time in the history of the town that this honor has been bestowed upon anyone.”
I never knew Jerry to preach a sermon in church, but he was preaching powerful messages every day in the way he lived his life. Sermons that could never be argued with. His quiet, consistent life was a powerful witness that the love of God had touched his heart.
The story of Dorcas ends gloriously. God, through Peter, raised her from the dead. I’m grateful to know Jerry’s story will end the same way.