Background

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lydia

We have all heard the expression “Truth is Hard to Find.” I Googled the word Truth and came up with 669,000,000 results. With so many opinions about Truth, no wonder it is hard to know what to believe!  

 Lydia was a seeker of truth and an independent woman who questioned the status of her day. She did not have the internet so she went to the best search engine there is, God, who answered her prayers. 
                                            
She was an entrepreneur who sold purple cloth in the city of Philippi about A.D. 50.  She had the knowledge and skill to run a successful business and a large household.  She probably was one of the most influential women in her city and represented the “new woman” of her day. It seems that she had it all and could have lived quite content. However, Lydia was wise enough to know that there was a higher purpose for her life.
Her short but powerful story begins in Acts 16:13-14. 


Here, I imagine her and her friends sitting at a peaceful riverside away for the city, earnestly praying together for guidance. Perhaps it was to this small group that God directed the apostle Paul to come as they worshiped. “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer 
was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 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, … attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

These two short verses teach us a lot about Lydia. First, she was not Jewish. Woman gathered at rivers to bathe or to wash clothes. A devout Jewish woman would have done neither of these on the Sabbath. Lydia a Gentile, worshiped the one God of the Jews, while all the other Gentiles around her worshiped many gods. Because of her longing to know better the wonders and powers of the one God, Lydia was in a place of prayer on the Sabbath. 

 Second, she had an open heart. She really wanted to know truth and put forth the effort to obtain it. Paul tells us that she “heard us”. As Lydia listened with humility, keen insight and a witness of the spirit; she embraced the story of the new gospel. What courage it must have took for her to change. Many people today hear the good news of Jesus Christ yet they are unwilling to follow him. If only we could all have faith like Lydia. She made the decision to be a true Christian without hesitation. She did not think of how if might affect her business if she accepted her new faith. Her customers of purple dye might have scoffed at the gospel of Christ, but Lydia did not wait. She put Christ first and business afterward, and went forward and was baptized, as were members of her household. 

We do not know if Lydia was married and it is speculated that she was a widow. It is not made know if people in her household were relatives or servants. However, it seems that Lydia shared the gospel with them and they followed her lead. These individuals must have relied upon her good judgment and rejoiced together at their new found happiness.
 
After baptism Lydia desired with all of her heart to know more truth. She humbly spoke to Paul “If ye have judged me be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there” (Acts 16:15). Lydia “constrained” them and insisted that they share her hospitality. Her home thereafter became a meeting place for the early Christian cause. Later on, Paul and Silas also sought her home as a place of refuge after being released from prison. Again, Lydia did not care what her neighbors thought. Lydia had purpose and peace in her heart because she knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was true and that these were His disciples.

Perhaps when Paul wrote to the Philippians “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philip. 1:3-5), he had in mind, among others, Lydia, the first to be converted, the first to be baptized, the first to open her home as a meeting place for the saints in Philippi. 
 
Lydia’s story stands as a witness to the invitation from our Savior Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me”(Revelation 3:20). Like Lydia we must have the desire to open the door, even if it shakes the very foundation of our past beliefs and way of life. 

 We live in a day of rationalization; people want to discount spiritual experiences, and they deny themselves revelation. What happened to the seeking mind, the open mind, the inquiring mind—one seeking to know truth and knowledge? We tend to rely on our own rational powers. The Lord wants us to be sensitive to the Spirit, and to turn to Him for truth. 

To the honest in heart and good people of the world, I invite you to awake out of complacency and foolish contentment and come unto Christ. Let us follow Lydia’s lead  and do whatever it takes to earnestly seek truth, to know God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

8 comments:

Nikell said...

Amen!!
This is a great post! I was indeed blessed by it. I had never thought to look so closely at Lydia! Thanks for sharing ^_^

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Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

I am so excited to see your blog! There is def. not enough being written about the women of the scriptures and so I am thrilled you are doing it. I love your perspectives and look forward to reading more!

marycook said...

I love this so very much..I will come back again and again to read. Thank you and GOd bless you for this..I will keep everything you write. Mary Cook

Winnie Jacobs said...

Thanks for your blog! I need to start studying the lives of influential and virtuous women in the scriptures. I think all women need to get a better handle on who we are, and more importantly, who we are in relation to our Creator.

Stephanie said...

Hi Patty,

I have tried to email you some other way but I can't find it. I am wanting to use some of your info in a talk for a women's conference and mention your blog if that is okay.

Very inspiring!! Thank you. You don't have to publish this comment, I just wanted to see if it would contact you!

Susan said...

Very beautifully written and I loved learning about Lydia. I am not as familiar with the New Testament as I should be. This has inspired me to study it more.