Lydia was one of the first converts in Macedonia. One of the early churches was hosted by a successful businesswoman! When Paul and others were first evangelizing in this city, scripture tells us, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:14-15, ESV).
As a businesswoman, Lydia could have easily filled the church with business associates. Instead, she clearly made room for everyone in this church because we’re told later that the Macedonian church was one of the least wealthy churches. It’s also described as one of the most generous.
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord” (2 Corinthians 8:1-3).
Presumably, Lydia was still a major part of this church, and its virtues speak to the environment that she must have played an instrumental part in orchestrating. As we examine her conversion story and the church she was a leader in, we should ask ourselves, “In what ways am I building spaces where everyone feels welcomed, regardless of background or socio-economic status? How am I actively finding ways for people from diverse backgrounds to all grow in Christ?”
A secure community that cares for its members and shepherds them toward maturity will also help generosity grow. May we become the kind of leaders who foster this kind of passionate and generous spirit in other believers!