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Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

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Lydia made her way outside the city gate. A short stroll led her and a group of women to a familiar spot beside the Krenides River. For a synagogue to be established, ten Jewish men had to be in regular attendance. But there weren’t ten to be found in Philippi.

Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

(Painting of Lydia at St Lydia chapel in Philippi. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

That didn’t keep these women from worshipping together, though. They gathered every Saturday at the river for prayer. But this Sabbath was different. It would change Lydia’s life forever.

And her change can affect our lives as well.

Let’s Gather at the River

A company of strangers approached the river. After exchanging pleasantries with the ladies, the men sat down and began talking about Jesus of Nazareth, the one who had come as the promised Messiah.

As Lydia listened to the one named Paul speak, his words stirred her heart like none she had heard before. So many of the prophecies she knew from the Scriptures suddenly made sense. She responded to Paul’s words—as did her whole household.

In that moment, they believed in Jesus.

Krenides River at Philippi

(Photo: Krenides River at Philippi. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Let’s Gather at Lydia’s

The Lord not only opened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s message, but our generous God also opened her heart to respond to the needs of the travelers. Her simple invitation revealed her own generosity:

If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay. —Acts 16:15

As a merchant of fine purple cloth, Lydia could afford generous hospitality, and her home could easily accommodate Paul and his companions.

At Lydia’s insistence, they lodged in her house. Moreover, her home eventually became a place where local Christians gathered together (Acts 16:40).

Stained glass of Paul and Lydia in Philippi's St Lydia chapel

(Photo: Stained glass of Paul and Lydia in Philippi’s St Lydia chapel. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Let’s Learn from Lydia’s Example

Lydia’s hospitality may have even served as the catalyst for the generous, giving spirit of the new church Paul established in Philippi.

Years later, when the apostle wrote to the Philippian church, he recalled their generosity at his initial meeting with them:

You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone. —Philippians 4:15

No doubt Lydia was part of those early gifts. She understood that when a generous God redeemed her life, every part of who she was became His. She then honored her generous God with all her life, including:

  1. her heart (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  2. her home (Romans 12:13)
  3. her time (Ephesians 5:15-16)
  4. her treasure (Luke 12:34)

Lydia serves as a marvelous model of one who recognized that our worship of a generous God can be expressed with anything we choose to offer Him. For, as Paul expressed regarding the Philippians’ generous financial gift to him, it was “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

Tell me what you think: What area of your life do you especially find joy in serving our generous God with? To leave a comment, just click here.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “Lydia: Opening Her Heart and Her Home to God ,” The Wise and the Wild: 30 Devotions on Women of the Bible (IFL Publishing House: Plano, TX, 2010), 111-112.

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