Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Lydia: Woman of Initiative, Influence, and ConfidenceActs 16:11-15
V.14 “One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
Growing up, I was always fascinated by my dad’s skill to deal with all sorts people, from family and friends to complete strangers. Fear is not a word in his dictionary. He is blessed with the gift to read people well and deal with them accordingly. Being the father of two daughters and a son, my father was adamant that we have no reason to fear anyone or anything and to be bold when we have to face situations head on as they come. It’s a lesson I’m still really struggling with. Re-reading about Lydia, I was challenged by her boldness to take initiative as a woman of God, how to be a positive influence for people through actions and words, and how to exude confidence through it all.
From these five verses, Lydia is only mentioned in the last two verses; however, we are able to extrapolate quite a bit about the kind of woman she was. When the apostles came by the river outside of Philippi, Lydia was among the women who had come to pray and honor the day of Sabbath, so clearly, she was a believer and “worshipper of God” and His laws. Usually men were more prominent in the places where Jesus and the apostles preached as we see in scripture. This is the only place to mention where the apostles were preaching to the general population of women. Lydia was a businesswoman as per v.14 “a dealer in purple cloth.” She was not a native of Philippi but she was from the city of Thyatira. Two things we can safely infer is that: she was a self-sufficient woman who may have moved from her hometown to advance her career in a new place with a thriving market and, she was educated and knowledgeable in ways of dealing with all sorts of people because of her trade. In first part of v.15, we see that Lydia and her family members were baptized after having heard the message of Paul and the rest of the apostles because the Spirit of the Lord moved within her and she took the initiative to invite the apostles over to her home as a sign of hospitality, offering the compassion and love of community God placed within her. The last verse of this passage states how Paul was persuaded by Lydia’s generous offer, which means he was not initially considering to go over or stay. As readers, we can clearly see how Lydia was able to influence God’s apostles to share in community, just as Jesus had emulated to them while He was here on Earth. She was confident in who God enabled her to be and was not afraid of the whatifs or societal standards or limitations. According to biblical scholars, Lydia was the first person ever to convert to Christianity in Europe.
Lydia is a true trail blazer. She reminds me so much of the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman. Lydia’s story poses a lot of challenges to all of us. Are we able to trust in God and His providence for us as believers to be His stewards daily and in unforeseen circumstances? Are we able to accept, love and exemplify grace to not just our loved ones but to complete strangers? Last but not least, are we able to invite our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ daily into our wretched, deceitful hearts so that He may be able to guard our hearts rather than us being led by our selfish ways?
Father God, may we always, despite our wickedness and flawed nature, continue to seek you and draw our confidence from you when we are weak. May we learn from your example of humility rather than relish in our pride. Please replace the broken areas of our lives with your unconditional love and continued mercy. In your holy name we pray, Amen.
Thought for the Day
“Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” C.S. Lewis