‘And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.’ Acts 16:14
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 2:37–47
All who believe shall be saved, but still for our part, when we see baptism put in so close connection with believing, we would not be disobedient to our Master’s command. We think it to be a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to his salvation and which is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of damnation: we say it is no mean sign of grace, when, as a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master in his burial to the world and resurrection to a new life, the young convert yields himself to be baptised. Lydia was baptised, but her good works did not end at the water; she then would have the apostles come to her house. She will bear the shame of being thought to be a follower of the crucified Jew, a friend of the despised Jewish apostle, the renegade, the turncoat; she will have him in her house; and though he says ‘No,’ out of his bashfulness to receive anything, yet she constrains him, for love is in her heart, and she has a generous spirit; and while she has a crust it shall be broken with the man who brought her to Christ; she will give not only the cup of cold water in the prophet’s name, but her house shall shelter him. Brethren, I do not think much of a conversion where it does not touch a man’s substance; and those people who pretend to be Christ’s people, and yet live only for themselves, and do nothing for him or for his church, give but sorry evidence of having been born again. A love to the people of God has ever been a distinguishing mark of the true convert. Look, then, at Lydia.
For meditation: Baptism is a once-for-all command; hospitality to one another (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9) and to strangers (Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 5–8) is the Christian’s ongoing responsibility, especially in leadership (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). Lydia didn’t need telling to be hospitable (Acts 16:15).
Sermon no. 544
13 December (1863)