01 Nov LYDIA “NOBLE ONE”
We are first introduced to Lydia in Acts 16 as Paul encounters her in Philippi. Her name itself describes her character – that of nobility (Greek meaning). God preserves her name and story in the New Testament within a short 29 verses (Acts 16:11-40). We find later that this short account of Lydia led to a greater impact, as Paul commends the church in Philippi, in the book of Philippians, of which Lydia was a part of (Philippians 4:15-18).
From the text, we learn a lot about this noble woman of God. She was a wealthy, God-fearing Jew living in Philippi. Lydia was a business woman who worked hard supporting her family, as Scripture tells us she had a home, and likely servants working for her. In her career, she made and sold expensive purple dyed cloth. She had a spiritual life, where she fellowshipped with other women, valued prayer, and observed the Sabbath. She prioritized time to pray and spend with God.
This is God’s story.
As a woman, she is honored by having her story recorded in one of the oldest books in history, the most read book of all time. God sees her and wants us to know her by name, so that we can be encouraged by her.
Her name is Lydia.
Lydia met Paul, Timothy, Luke, and Silas on Paul’s second missionary journey to Asia while she was praying with other women. God had a plan for the Gospel to be advanced into Macedonia and for Lydia to be in the right place at the right time to receive it. We know up until this time Paul had not been able to enter into Asia and had been previously prevented (Acts 6:9-10). But now God had given him an open door to move into this area that had been unreached by the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Until this point, Lydia only knew what she had been taught. Yet Lydia was receptive to the Good News that was shared, and she humbled herself under their teaching. The Scripture tells us Lydia’s heart was opened by God to respond to the message of Paul. She had a soft, moldable heart – “a heart of good soil” (Matthew 13:23). She was the first convert on this journey, the first recorded “member” of the church in Philippi.
What happened next is what should happen when the Gospel enters into our lives and our hearts. Lydia must have gone back home and been changed – a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), dead to sin and flesh and made alive in Christ (Romans 6). We are told that her family and all of her household were baptized along with Lydia. The way she went along with her life those hours and days after hearing Paul’s message must have been convincing. She chose to accept the message of the Gospel: that Jesus was the Messiah, that she was not good enough on her own, that she was a sinner in need of a Savior, and that Jesus, the one and only perfect Son of God, died to take away her sin – a perfect sacrifice in her place so that she may live eternally with God in Heaven. She was granted forgiveness and grace here on earth, and given the power of the Holy Spirit that comes from God. Her family saw something different and believed in the transforming power of the Gospel as well.
What can we learn from Lydia’s new life in Christ? We can be an example of transformation as we continue growing in our faith. It is our story and our surrendered hearts that God uses to advance His story of grace and love. Lydia was impacted greatly. She could not contain the Spirit in her from sharing with others about what Christ had done for her and she then became a discipler herself. Lydia, her family, and her servants all made a public declaration to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and let others know of their faith.
Lydia continued to serve the Lord in all that she did. She was hospitable, inviting Paul and his fellow missionaries into her home with her family. She saw value in them and saw that they had needs she could help meet. Scripture tells us she persuaded them to stay with her in her home. She had a servant heart, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality,” (Romans 12:13). God values our hospitality and servanthood toward others, especially believers. Paul writes in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
The Bible does not give us many more details about Lydia, however, we can see that she was a woman with a heart for others. She hosted other believers in her home, perhaps she was hosting a prayer meeting when Paul and Silas were singing hymns in jail. Her story impacted others, and we know she told it because others were converted all around her. Acts 16:40 tells us that after Paul and Silas were released from prison they came back to Lydia’s home and encouraged the believers there. This was the start of the church of Philippi, which continued to support Paul financially throughout his future journeys and imprisonment.
Lydia impacted Paul as she walked in the light, was bold in her faith, and shared what had been done for her with those she encountered. She encouraged Paul’s heart as he continued in steadfast pursuit of spreading the Good News of Jesus to the unreached people of Macedonia.
Paul says later in his letter to the Philippians that he wanted them to be rewarded for their kindness and that he valued their love and devotion to believers and the Gospel (Philippians 4:17).
Following Christ leads us to walk in the Light. He fulfills our deepest desires, He protects us, and He provides for us. Let’s be like this woman of noble character, maturing in Christ daily. Let us fellowship with one another, prioritize prayer, be authentic, and serve. Let us all share what we have in Christ with others. Let us be like Lydia.
***Over the next 9 weeks, the EbCo team will share the stories of biblical characters that have lived in the Light. We hope that these stories remind you that God has always been working through His people. Our prayer would be that you would be encouraged by their lives, their faith, their hearts, and that you would be spurred on to continue walking in boldness and courage as you Live in the Light. We pray you would believe God has written your story just like theirs. Living in the Light encourages others towards the One Who provides our endless love, grace, and redemption.