“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river,
where we expected to find a place of prayer.
We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.”
Acts 16:13 (NIV)
“One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.”
Acts 16:14-15 (NIV)
Lydia was a powerful, wealthy, and influential woman of her time. She apparently belonged to the guild of sellers of expensive purple dye and owned a large home with numerous servants.
When it says she was a “worshiper of God”, it was a technical term for someone who feared Jehovah. Her home town of Philippi had few Jews living there. But Thyatira had a large Jewish community, and there she learned the teaching of the Bible and attended prayer meetings. So she was a spiritual woman who was seeking the Lord.
As she heard the missionaries speak, the Lord opened her heart so that she responded positively to the invitation to embrace Jesus as the Messiah of Jewish expectations. Then she submitted to Christian baptism along with the people who were her servants and/or family members.
So enthusiastic was she about her newfound faith, that Lydia immediately saw an opportunity to support this work of proclaiming Jesus as the Savior of the world and seized it. The missionaries needed hospitality and she had the means to accommodate them, so “she forced us”—as one scholar translates the passage to accept her hospitality. She was a very persuasive person.
How important it is for all individuals of means to use their wealth to advantage. It is so wonderful to see the missionaries treated generously during their journey into Europe.
Many of us do not have homes with several spare bedrooms plus servants. We are of humbler means than that. However, there are innumerable opportunities for us also to be generous to others in need. It does not take a great imagination to see ways to give time and love to those who suffer among us—and in the community at large.
Listen to Jesus describe some ways we can be like Lydia, Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV) “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Go out today and meet some of the physical needs of others, including “strangers” and the Lord will honor you for it. You will be blessed in your own heart for your efforts and doing it to others is doing it to Jesus as He said. Go out today and minister to Jesus.