“In Joppa . . . a disciple named . . . Dorcas . . . was always doing good and helping the poor.” — Acts 9:36
Dorcas was often busy making clothing for others to wear. When she died, the local widows stood around Peter, “crying and showing him the robes and other clothing” that Dorcas had made for them. She obviously had taken to heart the Law of Moses that said, “If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them” (Leviticus 25:35).
That was in the days before social security and welfare. It’s good that there are some safety nets in society today to make sure that people who are poor don’t slip through the cracks unnoticed. But there are some downsides to the systems we have today—for example, people who have plenty of their own money are often not even aware of the poor. Many don’t know any poor people, and the poor tend to sink into their own miserable neighborhoods, “out of sight, out of mind.” Some people who are well-off even say, “Let the government take care of them.”
The Bible’s teaching about poverty is hard to grasp if we have no heart to help the poor, and it’s hard to act upon if we are self-absorbed, paying no attention to folks who are struggling, or to people living in the poorer parts of town. Our churches can help with programs to feed the hungry and to give shelter and job training to the homeless. But it all starts with having a heart of love, like Dorcas.
Thank you, Lord, for the example of Dorcas. Move us to meet and know and care about the people around us, as you do. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.