Reflections on the Book of Acts #16: Lydia

Here’s the link to Acts 16.

It’s such a beautiful, simple part of the story. Paul and his missionary partners travel to the Roman colony of Philippi and, going to find a place to pray, encounter some women with whom they share the gospel, including a business woman named Lydia.

Then we read this: A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 

Hear that? The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 

Then she invites them into her home. Her entire family are converted and baptized. She shows up again after Paul and Silas were released from prison. They spend time in her home again, encouraging the new believers (and no doubt being encouraged by them!), and then go on their way.

Lydia is not the only convert in this passage. But she is the most prominent one.

And isn’t this the kind of story we want to be a part of? Simply sharing our faith, the story of how Jesus met us, and seeing someone humbly respond with faith?

Quite a lot happens in this chapter–but in many ways it’s all so moments like this can happen.

I also love how the text points out that the Lord opened her heart to respond. Paul didn’t persuade her or argue her into the faith. The Lord opened her heart. The Spirit moved and worked in Lydia’s heart. And given that she’s called a God-fearer (a Gentile who worships the God of Israel), who knows how the groundwork for the opening of her heart was laid? Clearly she was receptive.

Lydia’s coming to faith in Jesus speaks to the sovereignty of God and how he is at work in ways we often do not see. We never know when we’re talking with people how God is already planting or watering seeds of faith. Or how he might use us in the process.

But we should never underestimate what God is up to.

Paul didn’t take a walk to the river expecting to find Lydia and have her place her faith in Jesus. But that’s what happened.

Makes me wonder. Am I in the position of being receptive to the leading of God’s Spirit? Am I open to how God might want to be at work through me? And do I go about my day knowing that perhaps God will do something that isn’t on my “To Do” list, something that will change the trajectory of someone else’s life?

Because there may be more Lydias around than I realize.

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