Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham
Women of The Bible
Lydia: A Businesswoman With a Heart of Hospitality
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Devotional Reading: Acts 16:14-15
14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Lydia is introduced in the 14th verse of Acts. She is noted as the first convert of record to Christianity in Europe. Her name referenced her hometown, and that she was a merchant of the color purple, which suggests that she was a well-fairing business woman since purple was an expensive color. She would be like the Proverbs 31 woman, who made goods for sale and knew that her merchandise was worthy of a good price (Proverbs 31:18, 22, 24).
We know that it was part of God’s plan for Lydia to meet Paul that day, because Jesus said that no one can come to Christ unless he or she be drawn of the Father (John 6:44). Lydia’s heart was opened by God like the words of the Psalmist, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” She listened intently to the words spoken by Paul and she believed.
Lydia must have been respected in her family because her witness was strong enough to encourage her entire family to be converted. We do not know if they believed her testimony only, or (likely) were encouraged to and did hear the words of Paul as Lydia did hear before them. We do know that the Word says not only was Lydia baptized, but so was her whole house.
When we are converted, it is important for us to witness to our families. That does not mean that every word from our mouth has to be about the Bible. But it should mean that we are a light before them and they can see a difference between us and the world.
Lydia showed hospitality to Paul and those who were traveling with him. She opened her home to them and made it inviting for them to stay. She apparently would not take no for an answer, but constrained them, or made it all but impossible for them to leave without receiving the welcome of her hosting at home. Lydia was probably like the Proverbs 31 woman who would even rise during the night to ensure that a meal was prepared for her family (Proverbs 31:15).
Hospitality is an art. It takes a person with patience and caring. Lydia must have had more than a nice home. She must have had a pure heart because she asked if she had been judged faithful, and that if so Paul and the others should stay at her home. They stayed. Lydia no doubt served many guests in her house before. She must have been confident that her new guests would be comfortable, else she would not have insisted that they come to receive her hospitality.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Lydia of Thyatira.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_of_Thyatira> 16 November 2012