“Tabitha,” Ensign, July 2019
Tabitha, a member of the early Church, was a seamstress well known and loved for her service to the poor and needy. Also called Dorcas in the scriptures, she lived in Joppa, a small town by the Mediterranean Sea that lay northwest of Jerusalem, where she grew sick and died. Many people mourned her death, including other members of the Church and the widows she had served. (See Acts 9:36–37, 39.)
When Tabitha’s loved ones found out that the Apostle Peter was staying in the nearby town of Lydda, they asked him to “come to them” in their time of mourning (Acts 9:38). Rather than just comfort these people, Peter turned their sorrow to joy when he raised Tabitha from the dead, telling her, “Arise” (Acts 9:40). Word of Tabitha’s renewed life spread, and because of it, many believed in the Savior (see Acts 9:42).
Latter-day Saints can study Tabitha’s miraculous story and learn much from her example of charity and her testimony of Jesus Christ.
Tabitha left behind a legacy of love and service by helping those around her, especially the poor and needy. In the scriptures, she is described as a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds” (Acts 9:36). President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) said, “To me the scriptural reference to Tabitha … defines some of the fundamental responsibilities of Relief Society; namely, the relief of suffering, the caring for the poor, and all which that implies.”1 Tabitha is a great example of a Christlike woman.
After she died and Peter came to Joppa, “all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which [Tabitha] made, while she was with them” (Acts 9:39). This public display of grief and gratitude suggests that Tabitha made a lasting impact on those around her and earned their love and admiration.
We may not realize it, but we too are building a legacy by the choices we make each day. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recalled a time he attended two funerals a few days apart—one funeral was somber, the other joyful. He explained that the main difference between the two men for whom the funerals were held was the decisions they had made and the values they had focused on. The one whose funeral was solemn had focused on worldly values, while the other man, whose funeral was heartwarming, had cultivated Christlike values. At this time in his life, Elder Cook realized, “the choices I was making would define my happiness in this life and determine the legacy I would leave.”2
As we think on Tabitha’s legacy, we may also consider what kind of impression we’d like to leave with our family and friends someday.
What is one thing you remember best about a beloved family member or friend, and how does that legacy affect you?
What is one thing you would want your posterity to remember you for?
Not only did Tabitha affect the lives of those around her before she died, but she also touched even more souls after she rose from the dead. She was healed by the Savior’s power in the hands of an ordained Apostle; her renewed life was a miracle, a testimony of Him. Her story of being healed strengthened the faith of those who heard it, and because of her, “many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42).
Though we may not have been raised from the dead, all of us have been made whole through the Savior’s Atonement. Like Tabitha, we can share our testimony of Christ’s healing power with those around us, and perhaps their faith can be strengthened too. Our testimonies need not always be borne at the pulpit on fast Sunday, but they can be borne in our homes, at school, or at work through our words, kind actions, and generous service.
When have you seen someone bear testimony of the Savior through their actions?
What is one way you can bear your testimony of Christ through your actions?
When we serve our fellow beings, we “are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17). Tabitha showed her devotion to and testimony of Heavenly Father and the Savior through her service to everyone around her. May her legacy continue today as we emulate her Christlike example.