Would you rather be known for the things you did or the things that were done for you? My guess is that most men, particularly in the West, would rather be known for the legacy we’ve left. We’d prefer that people remember us for the things we accomplished professionally, socially, or even in ministry. It sounds weak, deflating, or even (dare I say) “unmanly” to be known for the ways in which we were dependent on others to help us.
Tabitha’s story should cause us to reconsider this posture. Today’s passage tells us that Tabitha was “always doing good works and acts of charity” (Acts 9:36). She was known for what she did within the community. I can imagine when people talked about her, it was always with esteem and honor. Yet biblically she’s not known as much for what she did, as much as what was done for her.
When we encounter Tabitha’s story, we realize we’ve encountered a corpse. She’s dead! The apostle Peter happens to be in town, and through the powerful work of the Spirit of God in him, Tabitha is raised to life again. “This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42). She was returned from the grave to life, able to continue on “doing good works and acts of charity.” And that’s her story in Scripture.
It’s our story as well. Our reading in Ephesians today tells us that we were in the same condition: spiritually dead. There was no spiritual life happening, no resolute will we could exercise, no power we could employ to lift our hand to God and get His attention. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. “But God, who is rich in mercy,” raised us to life again by his grace (Ephesians 2:4). He came to us, as if we were dead on our backs, and breathed new life into us that can never be taken away.
Some men try to live life seeking to be known for what they’ve done. Spiritually speaking, that won’t work with God. Because of our stone-cold-dead spiritual hearts, we have no good works. We have no deeds that will earn us God’s attention and favor. The argument of, “Look what I’ve done to enter heaven,” is not enough. Dead men don’t do works of any kind.
Yet for those who, like Tabitha, are known by what God has done for us, we’ll find the joyful embrace of our Father in heaven. All we must do is trust His Word and the promises He’s made within it. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Everyone who turns to Him by faith—not their own deeds—but by faith in Christ’s deeds, will be raised to life again one day.
So today, trust Christ. Turn from your sin, embrace Jesus by faith, and be raised to life spiritually to be full of good works and acts of charity that glorify Him. Those who are raised alive in Christ are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Written by Jeremy Writebol