Lydia-And All of Us
Dr. Valson Abraham
Lydia’s life forces us to re-evaluate our attitudes toward women.
To receive God’s best and highest blessings, it is best that we follow Him and accept all He chooses to do in our lives, not decide ahead of time what He should and should not do. Throughout the centuries, men have tended to regard women as inferior. This ungodly attitude has resulted in great calamities, not just for girls and women but also for whole societies.
This judgment upon women is a judgment upon God who made them and can only quench the Holy Spirit in men who make such judgments. The Bible gives us examples of how God has worked through women and young girls to accomplish His purposes and change destinies of men and nations.
Lydia is a good example of God’s great work through a woman. All of us, in some manner, are indebted to what God did through Lydia. Overnight, the history of Europe began to change because Lydia heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speak through Paul. She responded and became Europe’s first convert. Because of her faithfulness to the message she heard, the gospel did not stop with her but spread to those around her, like a stone whose ripples spread out over a pond. Eventually, some of those ripples have even washed India’s shores. Lydia is the first of many hundreds of millions in Europe who have heard the call of the Holy Spirit. She is a model of what God intends to do through any and all of us who respond as she did to the Spirit of God.
Lydia serves as an example to both men and women of how the Holy Spirit can work in anyone to change the world in the name of Christ.
1. God opened Lydia’s HEART to do a work of grace in her life. It was His sovereign will that she become the first European convert. God alone ordained her time to come to Christ and to use her conversion as a means to ultimately change the direction of a whole continent and the rest of the world. Lydia’s conversion was a watershed moment for the direction of Europe. It was no fluke, no moment of chance. Through a unique series of circumstances, He brought her from her original home in Asia Minor to Macedonia that she might stand in the right place at the right time to hear the Good News spoken by Paul, and to open her heart to respond to his message.
Through her witness, her entire household believed and received baptism. Through her and her household, the church at Philippi was born. She became a charter member of the church at Philippi. That church became a strong witness for the Lord and served as a model for future churches. All of this began with the conversion of one woman.
In our own day, we must respect all to whom God chooses to reveal His grace. There are no small people in the kingdom of God. We must open ourselves to all that God chooses to work through their lives.
2. Lydia opened her HOME for God’s servants and fellow believers. In gratitude to God for all He was doing in her life, Lydia responded with hospitality to Paul, the one whom God used to open her heart to Christ. She also responded with hospitality to those like herself whom God had chosen in His grace. Like Lydia, we all show our gratitude to God by the way we treat God’s servants and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. Lydia offered her HANDS to minister to others. Soon after Paul and Silas arrived in Philippi, they were jailed and flogged for their faith. Miraculously, they were delivered, and Lydia took them into her house to nurse their wounds and help them on the road to recovery.
A helpful spirit is not just “woman’s work.” A helpful spirit is an effective witness for Christ in men and women alike. A helpful spirit is a spirit of salt and light that preserves and enlightens families, cultures and nations with the power of Christ.
4. Lydia had a good HEAD for business and practical affairs. Lydia was a prosperous businesswoman, a seller of purple cloth to the wealthy classes. She knew how to talk business and make money, and she also knew how to wisely invest and use it to serve the Lord’s purposes.
Lydia is a good example of a wealthy servant--one who regards all wealth and personal possessions as gifts from God to serve Him and others in need of His transformation. Since Lydia’s generation, the Spirit of God has worked in the hearts of other women to do great and mighty things. Think of Amy Carmichael who gave her life to minister to girls and young women caught in the prison of forced prostitution. She also started a home to care for young boys born to temple prostitutes. She is a model for other ministries in India founded by men.
Think of Monica, the mother of a wayward youth named Augustine. Her constant prayers for her son brought him to Christ, and made him one of Christianity’s most influential theologians.
Think of Susannah Wesley, mother and faithful teacher to her 19 children. Her constant love and faithful prayers raised up two sons, John and Charles Wesley, whom God used in mighty ways to bring revival and transformation to a dying culture in Great Britain.
Think of Elizabeth Elliott, wife of missionary, Jim Elliott, speared to death by Auca Indians [“Auca” is a pejorative meaning “savage”]. Instead of disappearing from the scene, she took up her husband’s mantle, went to the Aucas with her young daughter, and served as God’s instrument to change that culture for Christ--men and women alike.
I think of the many pastors and evangelists who credit their fruitful ministries to the faithful love and prayers of their mothers and wives. In truth, I say this about my own mother (Mary Abraham), both my grandmothers (Annamma Abraham and Annamma Chacko) and Laly, my wife.
From the very beginning of the Church, God has used women in vital ways. After the crucifixion of Jesus, His disciples huddled and shook from fear and doubt, until Mary Magdalene told them that she had seen the empty tomb. The disciples’ lives—and ours—changed because of the testimony of a woman.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we depend upon the work of God’s Spirit in all its many forms. Let us all thank God for such boundless grace that works in so many ways. Let us especially make sure we accept all the grace He reveals through His chosen women.