“On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.” – Acts 16:13-15
One character that is often overlooked in the Bible is Lydia. Although Lydia only appears in chapter 16, we can learn a lot from her life and her ministry. Lydia was a woman of business and a woman of worship. She responded to the call of God, chose to follow Him, being baptized and leading her household to do the same. Paul and Silas believed her testimony of faith, accepting the condition of her invitation into her home. These men of God trusted her. In this very act of hospitality, Lydia showed an understanding of what it is to follow Christ – putting her faith into action by giving shelter to her Lord’s servants. And it didn’t stop there. She continued to have “believers” meet in her home and hear about Jesus (Acts 16:40). She hosted church in her home.
The first and arguably most important life lesson from Lydia is to have an open heart. Referring to Lydia, in Acts 16:14 it says “…As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.” Following that, The Bible says Lydia “and her household were baptized” (Act 16:15). In other words, her open heart led her and her household to receive the gospel.
If we are not careful, we can lose sight of the Lydia’s of the world. While there are countless Biblical stories about giving, money, and wealth; Lydia challenges us to reflect on our role of being prepared for the moment, seeking something bigger than ourselves, and being willing to invite others to experience what we have experienced. Verse 15 illuminates that the Lord opened her heart and that she was a “true believer in the Lord.”
If you are willing and available, God can and will use you in powerful ways. It is not about us. It is not about our ability. It is not about how successful we are. It is about ordinary people trusting the outcome of our life and our service to an extraordinary God. “ You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” (John 15:16)
- Do you believe that God can do great things – impossible things – through your life? Why or why not?
- What are your abilities and gifts that could help make a difference in the lives of people around you?
- What are some of the obstacles that prevent us from getting involved in the needs of the community around us? What can we do to overcome them?