Won’t You Come Home with Me?

She was a businesswoman and a brand new Christian.  Although the Bible doesn’t say much about her (Acts 16:13-15), I know I want to be a lady like Lydia.  I admire her for loving God, which she demonstrated through her worship.  I admire her for her sincerity, which she demonstrated when she accepted and obeyed the gospel.  But I especially admire her for her open heart, which she demonstrated by her hospitality.

Lydia’s open heart led to an open home.  She began her Christian walk by inviting Paul and Luke to stay in her home.  Her heart was in the right place.  It was ready to act.  The Bible places a great emphasis on the condition of the heart because it is the source of our actions (Proverbs 4:23; 23:7).  If we ready our hearts to serve, we will find opportunities.

Lydia followed through with her impulse.  Her offer of hospitality was probably a result of multiple emotions (joy, excitement, gratitude), and she wanted to express them in a tangible way.  How many times have we thought, “We should have them over sometime,” but never act on those impulses?  Often our hearts will be touched by a need but we neglect it until it is too late.  Lydia could’ve made excuses.  She could’ve thought, “Well, I’m only a brand new Christian.”  She could’ve decided she really didn’t know Paul very well after all.  Instead, she readily opened her home to her brothers in Christ.  We shouldn’t allow excuses (the condition of the house, the level of cooking skills, or even timidity) keep us from acting on those hospitable impulses.

Lydia’s invitation was genuine.  The NKJV uses the words “she begged us” and “she persuaded us” (Acts 16:15).  “Come to my house and stay.”  When Lydia invited them into her home, she was not just being polite, half hoping they would decline.  She truly wanted to take care of them.  She removed all hesitancy on their part by pleading with them to show her sincerity.  When I was a teenager, my family moved to a small town in Georgia.  A thoughtful, older couple came to see if we needed help unpacking.  As this couple was leaving, the gentleman said, “Well, come go home with us!”  My sister and I looked at each other, then at our parents and said, “Can we?”  We ended up spending the afternoon at their home, and it wasn’t until several months later that we learned the invitation wasn’t a literal one.  “Y’all come home with us” was a regional expression folks would say at the end of a conversation.  It really meant, “Let’s get together soon.”  These new friends were good sports because they just chuckled and took us home with them (although they did tease us about it quite often over the next couple of years).  Lydia didn’t extend a half-hearted invitation.  Instead of saying, “We need to have y’all over sometime,” we need to genuinely invite, even compel others into our homes.

Lydia’s example of hospitality is a practical model for us.  With open hearts and genuine invitations, the amount of fellowship that will result can only fill our lives with joy and spiritual growth.

Prayer for Today:  Lord, help me remember that my home is Your home so I will wear it out in Your service.

Keep Your Soul from Troubles

One warm day in Florida, I was walking along a sandy road with a new friend.  She had just moved into the neighborhood and we hit it off immediately.  I was eleven years old, but I still remember the Spanish moss swaying in the breeze and how excited we were to throw marshmallows to the alligators.  Two boys crossed our path.  I snickered and said, “The brown-haired one is really cute.  How’d the blond-headed one get to be so ugly?”  My new friend looked at me searchingly for a second before whispering, “That’s my brother.”

Have you ever said something thoughtless and regretted it for years?  This particular incident took place almost thirty years ago, yet I’ll never forget the hurt I saw in the eyes of my sweet new friend.  I still feel ill when I think how my cruel and unnecessary words caused such pain.  Even though she never held it against me, that conversation will probably haunt me forever.  And unfortunately, incidents of thoughtless words didn’t end with my childhood.

Proverbs 10:19 reads, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”  This verse teaches the wisdom of learning to choose words carefully and sparingly.  When we simply start talking, without weighing our words and considering the consequences, chances are we will somehow sin.  It’s too easy to let our guards down and our lips loose.  It’s all too tempting to think others want or need to know our opinions on everything…how a program should have been run, what the leaders should be doing, a young mother’s unusual approach to child-rearing.  “There is one who speaks the piercings of the sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Prov. 12:18).  Before speaking we must ask, “Will my words tear down or build up?”  “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil” (Prov. 15:28).

Our words can cause pain in the heart of a beloved spouse.  They can promote insecurity in the mind of an innocent child.  They can make new Christians feel inadequate.  They can make church leaders feel overwhelmed, or discourage zealous members who have a mind to work.  What power we have with our tongues!  James 3:9 reads, “No man can tame the tongue.  It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”  Watching our words is a lifetime practice.  The tongue can never be freed, assuming it will only do as we want.  It must always be bridled and diligently guarded.

A helpful exercise is to go through the book of Proverbs and underline every verse that has to do with the mouth, tongue, lips or words.  There are over a hundred of them!  It’s a good eye-opener to the emphasis God places on the accountability of our words.  It will expose your speech as either righteous or foolish.

To avoid hurting others with our words, we must continuously put our thoughts through a sieve before we speak them.  Sift out everything negative, critical, bitter, malicious or insinuating.  Speak only what is encouraging, uplifting, positive, complimentary, supportive and truthful.  “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Prov. 21:23).

Prayer for Today:  Please help me remember, Lord, that I will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word I have spoken (Matt. 12:36).

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