Dealer in Purple
God on Monday
‘A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us;
she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth.’ Acts 16.9-15 (v. 14)
What personal qualities do you find most attractive? I find myself drawn to people who show openness, confidence, and hospitality. We find all three in the businesswoman Lydia.
Thyatira was famous for its purple dye which came from shellfish. It was a widely desired and expensive commodity. Lydia sold clothes treated with the dye. She had settled 250 miles away from home in Philippi when she had a life-changing encounter with Paul and his companions.
Lydia was a seeker after God and had joined the small Jewish group that met by the river outside the city. Her business success could have made her arrogant but she was open to God. When Paul started talking about the way Jesus fulfilled the Hebrew scriptures, ‘the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly’ (v.14). God opens hearts when the gospel is shared in ordinary everyday situations.
In response, Lydia and all her household were baptised – decisive action. Then she says: ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home’ (v.15). This shows both humility and confidence. She invites some foreign men whom she hardly knew to stay in her house. Perhaps her business experience instilled this confidence. Her strength of personality is implied by the phrase ‘she prevailed upon us' (v.15).
Subsequently, Paul and Silas get arrested and their imprisonment results in another conversion, that of the Philippian jailor. After their release, they go to Lydia’s home, where they encourage the Philippian believers. Her house must have been quite large. Importantly, Lydia used her wealth and possessions generously, and to good effect, in exercising hospitality. Lydia had an open heart and an open house.
For me, Lydia has always been a favourite biblical character. We named our daughter Lydia after her. Aptly, she has turned out to be a designer and maker of clothes!
The characteristics of openness, confidence and humility can be a winning combination for the Gospel. Ask God to nurture these qualities in you. Think how the qualities you have developed through your work and the material benefits gained can be a source of blessing to others.
Lord, help me to be like Lydia: open to you, confident and hospitable. Amen.
Share with others your ideas about how this prayer can become a reality at the in-person 2022 Faith in Business Leadership
Retreat this Friday and Saturday (20-21 May) in Cambridge.
, Chair of Faith in Business
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