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Heart of Hospitality - Lydia

There is a short story of a woman in the Bible and her conversion to Christianity. Her story can be found in Acts 16:11-15 - her name is Lydia.

So, setting sale from Troas, we made ad direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

Acts 16:11-15

Lydia was a seller of purple. Purple, in the ancient world, was luxurious and expensive. Not something that just anyone had the money to purchase. 

Lydia was most likely a Jew. She met Paul on the Sabbath at a place of prayer near the riverside. She was with other women, who were probably also there to pray on the Sabbath, and they all began to listen to Paul sharing the gospel.

Lydia heard the good news of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of her Jewish faith, the reality of her Messiah, and came to full-faith in Jesus. She was immediately baptized and, what’s more, she gathered her entire household to hear the gospel and be baptized as well. 

Afterward, she urged Paul and Silas to see if they judge her as faithful to the Lord and to come stay in her house. 

This is about all we know of Lydia. It’s a short story with few details about an interesting and mysterious woman. 

Sitting down to write this article, truthfully, I don’t have much to say about Lydia, but the things that I think the Lord has drawn my attention to concerning her life have impacted my own and have challenged me to change my intentionality in opening my heart and home to the people in my path. My perspective on hospitality has changed. I pray that the Lord speaks to you about your life, your circumstances, and your calling as you continue to read these words…

Lydia gave of herself, her time, her talents, and her money to do the work God called her to - selling beautiful purple garments. What is so profound and impactful to me is this…in a moment, the moment she heard the gospel for the first time, she went from a purveyor of purple garments to a purveyor of the robes of Christ. Her time, her talents, her money all going toward doing a NEW work that God was calling her to…sharing the good news of Jesus.

She gathered her entire household, the people in her nearest reach, to hear the gospel - just as she heard it. She made sure they weren’t just covered with the beautiful clothing she sells, but with the righteousness of Christ. This was a woman who understood value. How expensive are the robes of Christ that have been given for us? The work God called Jesus to was to cover the nakedness of those too poor to cover themselves with a spiritual purple cloth - beautiful, expensive, luxurious cloth - the robes of righteousness. We could never be right with God by our own strength. We need Jesus to make us right with the Father. We can trade our rags for His robes.

Lydia had a heart of hospitality that extended far beyond inviting some strangers to stay in her home. For her, it meant inviting her household to make their home in Christ. This really changes my perspective on spiritual hospitality. 

Whether it be the people who walk through my doors or the people who just walk in my path - am I inviting others to make their home in Christ? Am I purveyor of the robes of Christ to those too naked and too poor to cover themselves? Or am I too busy and too embarrassed to open my heart and my home to strangers, to those nearest to me, to whoever God puts in front of my path today? Is going about my business more important that going about the Father's business? Lydia understood what was more important, what was better, what had greater value...the invitation into righteousness and rightness with God through Jesus Christ. 

Do I understand what's more important, what's better, and what has greater value than my schedule, my mess, my tiredness, my busyness? Do you, sweet sister?

So what is the Lord prompting you to do right now? Is it to open your home to that Bible study that needs a place to meet? Is it to start your own? Is it to invite your neighbors over for dinner and open the door for a conversation about Jesus? Is it to roll down your window and pray with the man on the street corner? What is the Lord prompting you to do when it comes to your own spiritual hospitality?

Things to ask the Lord…

  1. Who do I need to be spiritually hospitable toward today?

  2. How can I present your righteousness to the unrighteous person in my path today?

  3. How can I open my heart and my home in hospitality with a spiritual purpose?

  4. What is keeping me from opening my heart and home to others?

  5. Remind me how expensive your sacrifice for me was and how much I need you.

Lord, help us to have open hearts and open homes to the people you put in our path. Give us wisdom and direction when sharing the gospel in word and deed, when opening our lives to the broken and needy around us, and when working to fulfill the calling you’ve placed on our lives. Make us like Lydia. Make us like you.

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