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
We know very little about the woman called Lydia in Acts 16. What we do know leads us to believe that she was a woman of very strong faith. We can learn a lot from Lydia, and I encourage you to spend a few moments contemplating the good example she is for believers today.
Lydia Was a Woman of Prayer (Acts 16:13-14). Because they were gathered outside the city gates it seems to me that this woman was committed to prayer. Maybe she was forced to have this gathering outside the city gates because it was illegal to do so inside. But whatever the reason she did not have a convenient place for worship and someone to lead the way for her, she was committed to gather outdoors to pray on the Sabbath. How many excuses do we offer up to the Lord about our lack of prayer? Follow Lydia’s lead.
Lydia Was a Woman of Industry and Leadership (Acts 16:14a). One of the churches that the Spirit addressed in Revelation 2 was Thyatira, Lydia’s home town. That city was known for it’s trade and business. Lydia brought that skill with her. Some have surmised from her business acumen that she was wealthy, but this is unknown. Was she a widow? We do not know. Among this group of women, Lydia is the only one who is mentioned by name. She is the obvious leader of the group and someone of influence. In what ways are we using our skills and abilities to lead others?
Lydia Was a Woman of Faith (Acts 16:14b). The Lord “opened her heart” to heed the things spoken by Paul. We do not know exactly what this phrase means … it contains some mystery. Perhaps it was a unique conversion experience like Saul of Tarsus had earlier. I think it more likely that this is a medical expression of how one comes to faith, similar in meaning to Paul’s agricultural expression in 1 Corinthians 3:6. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” It is, indeed, the work of God when faith springs forth from the hearing of the gospel
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. ~Romans 10:17
Lydia Was a Woman of Obedience (Acts 16:15a). We do not have the contents of Paul’s talking with her, but it must have included some information and encouragement to be baptized. Unlike today’s scheduled baptisms and delayed baptisms, in the New Testament when one heard the gospel and wanted to obey it, the baptism was immediate! Her household was baptized as well. We do not know who comprised this group. Possibly it was servants or children. There were other household baptisms in the NT that we can read about; one is the next conversion account in this same chapter. Are we so willing to follow God’s commands that He is able to perform an operation on our hearts?
Lydia Was a Woman of Hospitality (Acts 16:15b). She had a home and she immediately wanted to have Paul and his company in her home. This might have been more common in their time, and seems to be lesson common today. Hospitality is an admired quality in the Scriptures, demanded of our leaders, and expected by every believer.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. ~Hebrews 13:2
Lydia Was a Woman of Spiritual Influence. She was a charter member of the Philippian church, which was so dear to Apostle Paul. They supported him on his mission journeys and even during his time in prison (see Philippians). We should all be mindful to support our mission efforts wholeheartedly.
Maybe there are Lydias all around us? People of prayer and belief who need to hear the gospel. Let us learn all we can from Lydia … a godly woman of great influence in the first Century Church.
Thanks for reading, John.
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