Acts 16:12-15, 40
In Lydia, we see a biblical example of a successful, businesswoman. Let’s be honest, this is a bit of a rare find. Lydia’s story shows how God uses women in various roles and positions to grow His kingdom. Because Paul mentions she was “a merchant of expensive purple cloth” and had a “household” (which likely included servants), we can assume she was a woman of means. She was a Jewish woman who worshipped God and when she heard Paul speak, God opened her heart to believe Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah. She must have been prompted to share this Good News since not only did Lydia declare her faith through baptism, her household did as well. I picture her filled with the Holy Spirit, on fire for the Lord, and bursting to share the Gospel with everyone around her.
Immediately after the baptism, Lydia was anxious to serve God and these missionaries with what she had by insisting they stay in her home. She demonstrates how hospitality is a form of worship. Opening our home to others, whether it is by inviting a friend for coffee, hosting a Bible study, or giving someone in need a place to stay, we are not only showing Christ’s love to others but serving Jesus himself. We learn this in Matthew 25 when He tells us that by feeding, clothing, and sheltering the least of His brothers and sisters, we are providing food, clothing, and shelter to Him. There was a time when I was a young adult, and in between living situations, my friend, Danielle, and her husband, Ken, offered to let me (and my cat) stay in their guest room for a couple of months, while I figured out where I was going to move next. Twenty years later, I still remember how welcome they made me feel and appreciate their kind hospitality during a stressful season of my life.
Although there are not many verses dedicated specifically to Lydia, we know that Paul stayed at her home multiple times, including when he and Silas were released from prison. During this time, it says they met with other believers and encouraged them. Lydia’s home was a place where believers gathered in the earliest days of the church. Though her name is not specifically mentioned, I believe Lydia is one of the people Paul so fondly writes to in the first chapter of Philippians. Because of her willing heart, God used Lydia, in her unique position, to spread the message of Jesus Christ and grow His church.
1. Is hospitality one of your spiritual gifts? If so, what are some ways you may be able to use it to serve Jesus and others?
2. We sense Lydia being on fire for the Lord, after hearing Paul’s message by the way she witnessed to her household and jumped into serving. Do you remember when you were first saved? Did you have this same enthusiasm as Lydia, excited to share the Gospel and eager to serve God?
3. Sometimes in our Christian walk, we can get stuck in a rut and our worship and ministry become routine. If you are feeling this way, write down some ways you can re-ignite your relationship with the Lord. Consider joining a small group, trying a new ministry, or sharing the Gospel with someone God has brought into your life.
Bonus reading: Philippians 1:1-10