I believe there is something important we can and should learn from every person God presents to us in His Word.
We meet one such person in the book of Acts. She is referred to as Lydia though we don’t know for sure if this is her real name or the name of her native city. We don’t know anything about her background other than she was from Thyatira and Paul met her in Philippi which was a Roman colony.
Luke writes that he and Paul, along with Timothy and Silas arrived in Philippi and stayed there for several days. On the Sabbath, they went outside the city gate by the river where the Jews of the city gathered to pray. They sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.
“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).
It is only two verses but in them we learn four important things about Lydia.
A Business Woman
Lydia was from Thyatira where some of the best purple cloth in the world was made. Living in Philippi, Lydia had become a prominent business woman who sold purple cloth which was much sought after throughout the Roman empire.
Her acumen as a businesswoman provided a large house and servants to care for her and her family. Her house itself must have been large enough to accommodate her family, their servants, and eventually, Paul and his three travelling companions as guests.
Her success as a businesswoman is especially noteworthy given the paternal dominance of Roman society.
A Spiritual Woman
The Jewish population in Philippi must have been small because there was no synagogue there (10 Jewish men were required to start a synagogue). Lydia, a proselyte to Judaism, joined with other women daily by the river outside the city to worship God.
As Paul spoke that Sabbath day, Lydia listened attentively and the Lord opened her heart to receive the message spoken by Paul.
A Christian Woman
Lydia responded immediately to Paul’s preaching and was baptized as a believer in Christ. She evidently carried the news back to her household. Because of her faith and witness, her entire household became believers and were baptized.
A Hospitable Woman
Immediately after her baptism, Lydia insisted Paul and his three travelling companions come and stay at her house as her guests. Later, when Paul and Silas were released from prison Lydia welcomed them back into her home (Acts 16:38-40).
Lessons from Lydia for Us
I see two especially important lessons from Lydia for us today:
- Lydia responded to God. Most important, Lydia was a devout, spiritually open, and discerning woman who worshipped God. She went to the river and met with other believers daily to pray and worship God. She responded immediately to Paul’s message about Christ. Her enthusiasm for her new faith allowed her to evangelize the rest of her household.
- Lydia used her talents and gifts for the kingdom. First, she was a successful businesswoman. She continued her business in a Gentile-dominated world after accepting Christ. She did not leave her business to enter “ministry” but continued to run her business as a ministry. Second, Lydia cared for the saints. Lydia was a woman with the gift of hospitality who opened her home to Paul and his friends even after they bore the stigma of having been thrown into prison.
I can think of nothing more important to us a Christians today than to be diligent in our worship of God and to be open to His leading in our lives. And then, to respond to the Lord’s leading by using our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God.
Join the Conversation
As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with or do you know a “Lydia?” Have you responded to God’s call on your life? Are you using the gifts and talents He gave you to further the Kingdom?
I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?
Category: Personal Development | Character