Matthew 6:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. NKJV
Jesus spoke these words in the sermon on the mount:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:16 NKJV
As believers, we understand that works do not gain us access to the kingdom of God. But here we have the words of the Savior saying that our good works are seen before men, and they glorify our Father in heaven. This verse reminds me of Tabitha.
Luke tells us Tabitha’s testimony.
At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.Acts 9:36 NKJV
Tabitha was a believer in Jesus. Her life spoke for itself. She served others willingly and was known as being full of good works. We are not given a lot of details about what her service looked like, but we know that she was obviously a seamstress. When the apostle Peter showed up, the tunics and robes were what the women showed him after she passed away.
We know that she was well-loved in her church because the whole church was upset at her passing.
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Come to us without delay.”Acts 9:38 AMP
Peter was visiting the saints in Lydda, a town not far from Joppa. Luke tells us that Peter found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years due to paralysis. When Peter saw him, he said to Aeneas that Jesus had healed him and to get up! Aeneas was miraculously healed, and people started giving their lives to Jesus. The disciples in Joppa heard about what happened in Lydda and sent two men to see if Peter would come and pray for Dorcas.
It’s one thing for them to ask Peter to come and heal her; it’s another thing for them to dare to believe that he could raise her from the dead. When the brethren found Peter in Lydda, they explained what had happened; their beloved sister had died, and they wanted her back.
Peter returned with them to Joppa and found her laid out in preparation for burial.
When he arrived, they brought him into the upstairs room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing [him] all the tunics and robes that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.Acts 9:39 AMP
Dorcas’ friends wanted Peter to know the value they placed on their sister in Christ. They wanted him to understand that their church would be at a great loss without her. They valued her because her good works were about glorifying the Father and not gaining glory for herself. She used her talents to bless others when she could have been making garments to sell for her personal gain.
Peter prayed for Dorcas, and God raised her from the dead! What a powerful reason for someone to pray to God on another’s behalf! Her friends definitely felt that her death would be a loss to them, but more importantly, they felt her death would be a loss to the kingdom of God!
In honor of Black History month, I would like to introduce you to another woman who served God’s kingdom with selfless love, Susan Angelina Collins. Collins was born to parents who had been freed after the Civil War in America. After the war, Collins began working for Reverend Jason Paine of the Methodist Church in Iowa. He encouraged her to go to college for Normal Training. Normal Training was a program designed to teach young women who were graduates of high school to become elementary teachers in public school.
Collins was the first Black student to attend Upper Iowa University for Normal Training. After graduating from the university, she moved to the Dakota Territory, where she owned and operated a laundry business. Laundry was often wrapped in newspaper in those days, and one day Collins saw an ad for a school that trained missionaries in Chicago. She sold her business and moved to Chicago to enroll in the missionary school and answer God’s call for missions.
At the age of 36, Collins joined another Methodist pastor in his missionary work in the Congo as the first Black female missionary of the Methodist Church in 1887. Missionaries went out in a self-supporting role at that time, meaning she had to support herself. Collins left her business of making money to serve in Africa with no pay. After two years, she moved to Angola, where she eventually started a boarding school for girls that housed over 50 students at a time.
At the age of 50, she returned home to Iowa. She was told that she was too old to go back on the mission field but raised money to return to Angola. Finding financial help from the Pacific branch of the Methodist Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, she returned to Angola until she was 68 years old. At that time, she returned to Iowa, where she lived and served in her church until she passed away at 88 years old. A life of service to the kingdom that others were able to see.
Susan Collins was a blessing to the kingdom of God and a Black woman worth mentioning during Black History Month. As the first Black woman to serve as a missionary from America, she is someone worth knowing in the kingdom of God. Collins’ life of sacrifice and service was a blessing to the church, the kingdom, and the people of Angola. And she is someone we should know!
Today, we find it difficult to give ourselves in service to the kingdom. Everything has to fit within our schedule and be convenient for us to accomplish. Too much time given to the church is less time for ourselves, and a few faithful people end up being responsible for the majority of the work of the church.
I understand that our good works are not limited to the church building or the church programs. Many of us are a part of the faithful 20%. But some of us are the 80% who can’t be put out.
Jesus encouraged us to do good deeds. Some people have taken it to another level, like Tabitha and Susan Collins. We won’t all be called to give up everything to serve the kingdom and others, but we are all called to do good works!
So whether you are cooking a meal for a family in need, buying shoes for the kids across the street, or taking a child to church from the neighborhood, all of these things are good works. And while you may not be doing any of it to be seen, others see those good works and know that the Father is using you. He is being glorified by your works!
So let your light shine before men, keep those good works going, and don’t grow weary in your well-doing. Wonderful Jesus!