Welcome to our second week of looking at some truly inspirational women from the New Testament and the early church (catch up on Naomi’s post about Tabitha from last week here). This week we turned our attention to Lydia. Maybe you had heard of her, maybe not, but Lydia certainly bit the bullet when she met Paul and heard the good new of Jesus Christ. We were meditating on this verse in particular:
“When she and the members of her household were baptised, 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 16:15
who was Lydia?
Its always helpful to know a bit of background on the people that we are meditating on, and when I looked a bit closer into Lydia it says that she was originally from the city of Thyatira where she was a dealer in purple cloth, but now lived in Philippi (Acts 16:14). This tells us a few things about her as a person. That she was reasonably well off (purple cloth was expensive and if she was a dealer then she would be doing well through that) and that she was an Asian living in Europe (not a native of Philippi). When she met Paul she was at a prayer meeting taking place outside of the city gates, so she was intentionally going to pray and learn more about God (Acts 16:13). She had some interest in a relationship with God before Paul and Silas showed up preaching the gospel and she is called a “worshipper of God”. I love that her heart is to seek after God and learn more about him. It is said that the Lord “opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” and she becomes one of the first Christians in Europe. What an exciting time for Lydia!
Lydia – a free woman
When I started to think about our meditation verse about Lydia, one key detail jumped out at me straight away – there is no mention of a husband. It seems odd that Lydia can make all the decisions and it is called “her household”, in a culture where men were the leaders of the households. This means she is either widow or a freed slave, a woman who doesn’t have a father, husband or master to report to and who has created her own household. As a dealer of purple cloth she clearly seems able to look after herself (and probably has her own slaves and hired servants to help and protect her), but it also quite vulnerable. So I guess that makes her offer of hospitality to two men she has just met quite extraordinary!!
Lydia – a hero of hospitality
I love that her first reaction is to invite Paul and Silas to her home. I read this in the Message Version and was blown away by the translation:
“After she was baptized, along with everyone in her household, she said in a surge of hospitality, “If you’re confident that I’m in this with you and believe in the Master truly, come home with me and be my guests.” We hesitated, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer”
Lydia has this surge of hospitality, this overwhelming desire to look after them and love on them, that she just won’t take no for an answer!!! How often are we like this? I like to think I have a heart for hospitality, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so insistent that people come over for dinner or stay at my house that I wouldn’t take no for an answer!! But I want to be more like Lydia, and for hospitality to surge out of me, that I just need to look after others and can’t help myself!!
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty British in my approach to hospitality. I will tentatively offer an invitation to ours, at the other person’s convenience of course, giving them chances to cancel if they want. Why?!! Because I am afraid of scaring them with my desire to love on them? Or maybe I just think my cooking isn’t that great. You know what, Lydia hadn’t got the slow cooker on and prepared, she hadn’t freshly washed the sheets because she knew they were coming. She just jumped up and invited them, and then figured it out after! Lets be more Lydia! Lets be impulsive with our hospitality. Lets invite people for a cuppa out of the blue, or for lunch after church even when we haven’t prepared for it. Lets offer our spare room whenever it is needed, and just sort out the details later. Because you never know when God will need to use your hospitality to speak to someone or reach someone in need. Paul and Silas called on Lydia’s hospitality again in Acts 16:40 after they come out of prison, so she must have done an ok job!
In Lydia’s shoes
As I stepped into Lydia’s shoes I became filled with an overwhelming feeling of excitement. Its the same feeling I get when I follow the spirit’s guiding and share the gospel with someone or step out in an unknown way. Yes its scary, but man is it empowering!! Lydia followed that prompting of the Holy Spirit and provided a safe haven for Paul and Silas for a while on their journey. I am sure she would have been built up and taught by them whilst they were there, so she would have got something out of it too. I think this week I am going to take away that impulsive following of the Spirit – no matter who or when it is – and see where that takes me. No more excuses that I’m not prepared – just bite the bullet and invite the person God prompts me into my home and my life. If I am listening to God then what can go wrong?
I think I have found my biblical soul mate so am very sad to leave Lydia behind, but Naomi will be leading us through a week learning more about Priscilla. We will be meditating on this verse so I hope you will join us:
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” Romans 16:3-5
Make sure you head over to our Facebook Group to get your hands on your free phone lock screen for the week, along with joining in the discussion with other mums.