A Look at Lydia

I'm a little late with my post today because I had a small breakfast party this morning. Now before you start thinking that's something I do often, think again. And yet, I don't know why not. Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make, one of the least expensive, and many people's favorites. And starting the day off with a party is a great motivator!

My husband had been out of town during Secretaries' Week, so he was a little behind on honoring the ladies who work in the church office. He asked me last week if I'd like to take them to breakfast - just us gals - but I suggested I host them for breakfast in our home instead. I'm normally all for going out to breakfast, but I must have just put down my Southern Lady magazine or exited out of Yvonne's StoneGable blog or something, so I was in the domestic and hospitable frame of mind. And I'm so glad I was.

I loved having the ladies into my home this morning. And amazingly it really wasn't that difficult or time-consuming to prepare for them. I straightened up last night, set the table and chopped up a few of the ingredients for the fruit salad and the quiches I would be preparing. I got up a little before six this morning and got dressed, baked the muffins, assembled the quiche, turned on the coffee and finally popped the quiche in the oven. I had my apron off and the soft jazz music playing well before they got here at eight o'clock.

Why don't we welcome people into our homes for a meal or games or dessert more often? Or maybe you do. But I must confess that I'm guilty of good intentions and poor follow through. I mean to have people over; I just rarely actually extend the invitation. And maybe that's where we need to make the change - just invite and get the ball rolling, because once the invitation has been accepted there's no turning back, is there? At that point you're committed and you somehow manage to make the thing happen. And really, how hard is it to set a few more plates at the table, toss a few more burgers on the grill, tidy up the bathroom and light a candle or two? Warm hospitality requires just a little effort, but produces huge results - sweet fellowship, deepened relationships, wholesome fun, and simple kindness.

So who's our trailblazer when it comes to breakfast parties and such? Why Lydia of Thyatira, of course. Her brief story is in Acts 16:11-15 and verse 40. When Paul and Silas met her she was sitting along the riverside where she and other women had gathered for prayer. She was already a worshiper of God, but did not yet know about Jesus. But as Paul spoke, God opened her heart and she eagerly responded to the truth about Jesus. She and her household were quickly baptized. Obviously Lydia shared her new found relationship with Jesus with her household, immediately and enthusiastically. In fact, enthusiasm seems to have been one of Lydia's strong suits.

Lydia, a seller of purple (costly and fine) fabric, continued with her prosperous business as far as we know. Undoubtedly, she used her business connections to share the gospel with others. But, as busy in business as she was, Lydia evidently still took the time and made the necessary efforts to open her home to others, namely those in ministry. Not only did she invite Paul and Silas (and probably others who were traveling with them) to come into her home and stay there while they were in Philippi, but the Bible says she "prevailed upon" them. She wouldn't take no for an answer. Now here is a woman who knows how to offer an invitation - with enthusiasm!

Even after Paul and Silas' unjust stint in jail, Lydia welcomed them into her home again. Their tarnished reputations did not nullify her invitation, but sealed it.

Isn't it amazing that some folks like Lydia just pass out invitations to come to their homes like you'd pass around a cold? They don't seem to weigh out the cost, consider the hardship, or double check their calendars for possible conflicts. They just "prevail upon" you to come to dinner, stop by for dessert, or visit for the weekend, as though your presence in their home is truly an honor to them, a gift they will enjoy even more than you do. They aren't just offering to be polite; they really want you to come for a visit. Why? Because they want to know you better, spend time with you, listen to you, catch up with your life, and bless you. These are truly gracious folks. And being gracious is supposed to be what being a Christ follower is all about.

Funny thing is, most of us, good and godly Christians that we may be, still think this kind of behavior is optional. We tend to think some folks are "just that way" or that they are just the entertaining type. But the Bible doesn't explore hospitality, as though it were some sort of rare phenomenon. It demands it. We, all believers, are to be hospitable. We are to show hospitality to each other, to those who minister to us, to the church, and to strangers. We're to open our homes, go the extra mile, exert a little effort, show some grace and kindness, make others feel comfortable in our presence.

I can write this today because I happened to extend an invitation last week and I followed through with it today. But I'm just as negligent about showing true and consistent hospitality as most of you are. How about we all consider Lydia's trailblazing example today and commit to opening our homes more. I tell you what: I'll commit to having at least one family or a few individuals over for a cookout in the next three weeks (I'm giving myself a few weeks because I'll be out of town part of that time). I'll talk with my husband about it tonight, put it on my calendar and extend the invitation before this week is up.

What about you? Would you like to join me in this Lydia challenge? I'd love to hear about it if you do!

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