Monday, March 14, 2011

Lydia, a Gifted Woman

While there are many great works we can read in Acts, one of my favorites is about the conversion of Lydia. We find Lydia in Acts 16:11-15, 40 and Philippians 4:10-11 (implied). In the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul set out to speak the message of Christ in Asia but the Holy Spirit had another idea (v. 6). During the night, Paul saw a vision to go to Macedonia (v. 10). He set sail and went to Philippi, a Roman colony, which was the leading city of that district (v. 12). Here is what happened in the following verses: “On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us” (Acts 16:13-15).

Lydia was an influential woman of the business world. She had no husband but did have a household, probably of servants. Paul listened to the voice of God and went where the Holy Spirit took him. He saw Lydia and the women who had gathered. These must have been spiritual women but they did not know Christ. Paul took the time to sit down and talk to them. God opened Lydia’s heart and she believed the good news of Christ. She was immediately baptized. The rest of her household believed and was saved as well. Lydia used her influence with the group but also used her gift of hospitality by opening her home to Paul and his traveling companions. We know that the church in Philippi started right there in Lydia’s home. The story of Paul and Silas in prison follows in Acts 16:16-24 and “After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed” (Acts 16:40). As the first convert in Europe, Lydia used her gifts to make an incredible difference in the kingdom. Lydia must have given financial support to Paul because at the end of Philippians, we see that he closed with “And you, Philippians, know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times” (Philippians 4:15-16). Lydia is a great example of a woman who used her giftedness: influence, hospitality, and giving for the Lord.

Throughout the Bible, we find many women who shared Christ through their gifts. In order to lead our women to share Christ through their spiritual gifts and follow Lydia’s example, we need to begin to lead women in a few essentials: faith, follow-ship, and the joy of sharing Christ.

Lord, make us into women like Lydia. We want to use our gifts for Your glory. We are gifted2go!