11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
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.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
SHE: UNTOLD STORIES OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Lydia of Thyatira
Only two verses mention Lydia in the Bible. In those verses, as you read above, we are told that Lydia, a seller of purple goods, Thyatira, was a city famous for making purple dye, purple was a big deal at that time, It was only the wealthy elite who wore garments dyed purple or trimmed with purple, or had soft furnishings in their homes, such as couch covers, dyed purple. More important however is that Lydia, worshiped God. When she heard Paul preach the Gospel, the Lord opened her heart to Paul’s words, and soon after, she and her whole household were baptized. Following her baptism, she insisted on Paul and his companions to stay at her house during their time in the Philippi.
That’s it. And while it might not seem like much to go on, there is more to unpack here than you might think.
It’s important to note that Lydia is the first recorded European convert to Christianity. She believed the Word as preached by Paul and by a conviction, given to her by the Lord through the Holy Spirit, that Paul’s words were true. And that was all she needed to come to faith in Christ.
But she didn’t stop there. Once she knew the truth, she brought that truth to her family. Her conviction was so great that they were persuaded to believe in Christ, a belief which was entirely new to their part of the world, and to be baptized along with her. And following her family’s baptism, Lydia would not rest until she had convinced Paul and his companions to stay in her home as an act of hospitality.
Women such as Lydia were not at the margins in the first decades of the Jesus’ movement.
Lydia was a successful Businesswomen, and I believe she was also a key leader in the church at Philippi as it was birthed. Women like Lydia, cared for local congregations and were vital and strategic players at the forefront of the expanding Christian mission. A church was established in Philippi because of Lydia’s open heart and her open home, and it grew because of her investment, her initiative, her courage, her ministry, her hospitality.
Lydia didn’t wait for months or years before she started serving and sharing the Word. It seems that within a short time after conversion, Lydia was already pursuing acts of service and the Great Commission. Likewise, God does not expect us to reach a certain spiritual maturity level before we are able to use the gifts, He’s given us. Whatever gifts we have, He wants us to put them to good use now.
And if, like Lydia, God’s given you a gift of hospitality, look for chances to extend it. Try opening your home to your friends or neighbors. God will give you opportunities to use the gifts He’s given you to be a blessing.