We find Lydia at the river, gathered with some other women in prayer. Lydia was not yet a follower of Jesus, at this point she is a seeker. I wonder what the ladies were praying about… were they asking the Lord to send them a message?
There is much to Lydia; she is a business woman, a successful one. She lives in the beautiful country of Lydia, hence her name. Today the old country of Lydia is North West Turkey. Some scholars believe that Lydia was not actually her name, but her country. I would like to believe that this magnificent woman carried the name of her country.
She lived in the town of Thyatira where the waters were perfect to dye rare purple cloth. Rare equals in demand, in demand equals a great business. Lydia was a savvy business owner.
Lydia is magnificent; she is a mover and shaker, a go-getter, a Type A personality. My guess is there was little that got past Lydia’s keen eye. I am not surprised that Lydia was seeking the Gospel, before the missionaries showed up. She is already at a prayer meeting when she meets Paul, who shares the Gospel with her. This is the moment when the Gospel moves from Asia to Europe and the Gentiles (the non-Jews) are ready to receive it.
Let’s take just a moment for the Type A woman, the Lydias of the world. So often you ladies are told, “You’re pushy, rude, loud…” I want to say… the world needs you, the church needs you. There are people who will receive the Gospel just the way you deliver it. Take it from the mouth of a Type B …Someone needs to drive the car, while the rest of us look out the windows. Be who you are, love like Jesus and you will be just fine!
To the River… 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 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. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 15:13-15
Here she is seeking the Lord, He is pulling on her heart and she hasn’t even heard the Gospel yet. As Paul shares the Gospel with her the Lord opened her heart and she received it. The Lord opens hearts at just the right time, His timing is perfect. We can trust Him on this.
There in the river where she worked daily, where she sought the Lord, where He opened her heart, she was baptized. The old was gone and the new had come. Not only Lydia, her household was baptized. It was all or nothing for her, she was clearly the leader of her home.
Then… her personality shines through and she says to Paul and his companions…”If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home.” Would these Jews really stay at a Gentile’s home? Would that gap finally be bridged, showing the world that the Gospel was for all and as believers in the Lord, we are one? Being persuaded by Lydia, Paul and his companions stayed in her home and the bridge was built. Lydia’s home would become a church, where brothers and sisters of the Lord would gather.
Later we see that after Paul and Silas sang hymns to the Lord and the prison walls shook setting them free they made their way to Lydia’s house where this happened…they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.
Lydia served the Lord like she lived life, big and bold. Her home was an open door for missionaries of the Gospel. She was still a business woman, still a strong willed, persuasive Type A personality, just how the Lord created her. The difference was now she was a passionate and persuasive follower of Jesus, who shared the Gospel with all who would listen. Who gave of her resources, opened her home to be a gathering place for believers.
We see in the verses that follow that Paul and Timothy remember her and the believers fondly and send a prayer to them…3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Philippians 1 :3-10
Lydia had been at the forefront of a partnership between the Gentiles and the Jews, of course she was,,. who else! Day by day, the Lord was completing the good work that He had begun in her that day at the river as she boldly lived for Him.
No matter our personality type, we can rest assured that the Lord knows what He is doing, fitting all of our personalities together for this one purpose, completing the good work that He has started in each of us, that our love may abound and the Gospel will go forth into this hurting world.