Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Lydia – An Apostle of Christ with Heart-Shaped HospitalityActs 16:11-15
”V15: When she (Lydia) 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.
Lydia – Her Hometown and its Hostility
Lydia, as her name signifies, was a woman of Lydia, a region in Asia Minor. She was a successful and prominent businesswoman who sold fine cloth to those that could afford it; it was a type of material prized for its rich purple color. As a gentile adherent of Judaism, she may have been either single or widowed. Lydia’s hometown is the city of Thyatira. It is noteworthy that Thyatira was located in the very area of Asia Minor where Luke records that Paul, Silas, and Timothy “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word” (Acts 16:6). When all the doors were closed to Paul and his companions for any further church planting prospects, God sovereignly leads them into Europe by means of a dream in which a Macedonian man pleads with Paul to come over to Macedonia and help them.
Lydia – The Hub and Her Household
We understand that the ironies are many. The gospel pursued Lydia to Europe, where she was engaged in a livelihood and business instead of reaching her in the place she called home. Paul, although saw a man from Macedonia in his vision, an Asian woman became ultimately the first convert in Europe on record. Her conversion set a mark as the earliest milestone of the church on a continent that eventually became the hub for gospel sharing and witness worldwide. The land of Lydia was also a thriving center of Christianity. Paul shared the gospel with the group of Jewish women gathered for prayer. Instead of avoiding the women, as was the religious tradition and custom, the missionaries sat and spoke with the women about the Messiah. In His divine appointment, God opened her heart to the gospel. She and her entire household were baptized. Often in biblical times, the head of the family decided the religion followed by both the family and servants. This clearly shows how one believer’s influence impacts others and the generations to come.
Lydia’s Heart and Hospitality
Her ears were opened by God to hear and heed the things spoken by Paul, and her heart was truly opened by God’s sovereignty. Soon after her conversion, Lydia insisted that the missionary team accept her hospitality. According to Luke, she “begged’’ them to be her guests, and she persuaded them. Other biblical versions use words and phrases like “she urged us until we agreed”, “she prevailed upon us”, and “she constrained us”. All of these usages tell us that the hospitality Lydia extended to these strangers, who were sent by the Lord, was highly commendable. Her wonderful act of hospitality opened the way for the first church to be planted in Philippi and for Christianity to penetrate Europe. Her home became the very center and meeting place for people who responded to the gospel. Her hospitality was as remarkable as Lydia’s faith. Through her generosity to Paul and his missionary group, the gospel gained a firm foothold in Philippi which later spread to all parts of Europe and continues to reach the uttermost parts of the globe today. Lydia epitomized and extended such warm hospitality to strangers and missionaries she barely knew. This is certainly the kind of hospitality scripture demands of all Christians as we strive to be Apostles of Christ.
Welcoming God, You receive all those who come to You with a warm heart and open hands. The foundation of our hospitality is the love and hospitality You have shown us. As Your disciples, help us to demonstrate this gift of love and service toward strangers and to serve You through the ministry of hospitality like Lydia. Enable us to extend hospitality and to do so without grumbling. Refresh us so that we may never grow weary by practicing hospitality. Remind us continually that we should never forget or neglect offering hospitality to anyone in need. Grant us the willingness to be available to provide for the needs of the poor, the stranger, and the sick. In the hospitable name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Thought for the Day
“Hospitality is a posture of the heart. Hospitality means being emotionally, physically , spiritually open to strangers – and being open for unexpected blessings in return.”
(Quote by A. Peterson)
Mrs. Neethi Prasad
(Wife of Rev. Christopher P. Daniel, Diocesan Program Manager and Vicar of Jerusalem MTC, Connecticut)