The Bible recorded a number of wise women often overlooked by Bible teachers. So we continue to read some at random and let the Holy Spirit lead us to uncover gems as we press forward with the words of God.
Today we read a very capable godly wealthy woman who was also a successful career woman on her own merit.
Her story was recorded in the book of Acts chapter 16:9-15.
summary of the story:
Apostle Paul was led by the Holy Spirit (in a night vision) to go to Macedonia to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. He and his co-worker (Luke) went at once. They reached Philippi, a major city there. On Sabbath they went to the riverbank prayer meeting and met Lydia and some women, instead of the devout men whom they had expected.
Lydia was converted immediately, baptized with her own household, and opened her house to Paul and the other disciples for meeting and stay. Her house became a gathering place (the first house church in Europe ) for the believers. Indeed the Holy Spirit had brought Paul to share the Good News to the right person at the right time and right place, and Lydia turned out to be the person in the vision of Paul!
What was outstanding about Lydia? Here is a short summary:
Background about her business: Lydia was “a dealer of purple cloth” from Thyatira. Tyrian purple is a vivid, purplish red. a highly prized crimson or purple dye of classical antiquity, costing equivalent USD$126278 / Troy Ounce. Each ounce required over 3500 molluscs to procure and so only the highly privileged could afford it. Indeed, ancient regimes often passed sumptuary laws to prohibit common folk from wearing.
Purple dye was a symbol of power and honor, and it was the most expensive and sought after dye in the Roman world. She had to have plenty of capital to deal in purple dye and the making of purple garments for sale. She would be dealing her business with the royal and upper class nobility exclusively. As the products were manufactured in Thyatira and in view of their high value, she would have to travel frequently personally to bring them to Philippi and her clients.
- She was thus a rich, busy successful and influential business woman.
- Yet she went for a prayer meeting at the riverbank on Sabbath. There was no Bible teacher or preacher but she and other women gathered and worshiped God as usual.
- she was hungry and ready for the Good News. When she met Paul she listened to his sharing and opened her heart to accept Jesus immediately.
- She also ruled a household (which means she did not have a husband) who respected and obeyed her as their head.
- She was able to bring her entire household to believe in Jesus and be baptized together with her.
- Despite the fact that Christianity was not favored by the influential religious Jews and the Roman authority, Lydia was brave, kind and generous and extended her hospitality to Paul immediately. By doing so, she had opened her home to Jesus, for the use of witnessing, sharing the Good News and worshiping God in spirit and in truth.
- The Apostles and disciples of the early house churches met daily, and the head of the family was usually the pastor or deacon of the house church, so Lydia probably fitted into those important spiritual roles.
9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we[c] decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. 11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.
38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city. 40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.