Cloud of Witnesses

Q&A, Devotional


An extraordinary, ordinary woman

Tags: money relationships initiative self-esteem gifts

FAO Leader. Aim of the Study; to consider the example of one woman who through generosity & kindness to the poor had a huge impact on their lives. This reflects on mercy ministries, their value and asks us to consider and value those who serve God in this way and to consider our own contribution to demonstrating God’s love in a practical way both inside & outside the church.

  • Who do you know, that you would describe as generous? Why & in what way?


This is one of the episodes in Peter’s ministry in the early church; it recounts a wonderful resurrection and is part of the story of the Apostle’s ministry. However, it also gives us some insight into how the church functioned & how early Christians outworked their faith.

READ ACTS 9. 36-42

Make a list of the conclusions (& inferences) you can draw from the text about;

  • A. Tabitha.
  • B. The way she outworked her faith.
  • C. The effects that she had had. (Why do you think making clothing for widows was so significant for them?)

3. Tabitha gave time, energy and dignity to the very poor in the church. In what way would you say that reflects other biblical values/ passages?

4. What is your view on the question of whether this type of ‘mercy ministry’ or ‘social action’ is a legitimate way of fulfilling the great commission? (Matt 28.18-20) Why do you hold that view?

5. Given that we live in a welfare state in the UK, what do you think the church’s role should be in relieving the suffering of the poor?

6. What do the example of Tabitha and the effects of her ministry suggest about; - How we might look after each other practically within your church? - In what ways do you see that happening already? (Who would you say is gifted at this?) - How might we improve on it? - What might your personal contribution be?

Leader's notes

1. A. She seems likely to be a wealthy widow, at least no husband is mentioned & she has financial resources to make clothes for the poor widows

B. She seems to be perfectly willing to bless & have relationships with the poor in the church; she has stepped over social boundaries which we can tell from the epistles wasn’t always the cases! E.g. James 2.1—7

3. If people get stuck = Deut. 10.17-19 & 24.19-21 are good examples of OT laws. The book if Ruth demonstrates them in action. Amos 2.6-7, 4.1-3, 8.4-6 are all examples of a common theme of the prophets. Jesus himself was born into a poor family, multiplied food for those without any, taught ‘blessed are the poor & hungry ’Luke 6.20-21

5. Encourage people to share examples they know of churches, agencies, organisations & the practicalities, pro’s and con’s of those things.

6. Everyone may not have finances to contribute, encourage people to think about what they COULD contribute to caring for others in the group & wider in the church.

© Ruth Perrin 2008. Last revised on 22 November 2008