female role models in the bible: Lydia

Today I am sharing the story of Lydia, and my insights on why she is someone we as modern women can aspire to be like.

Like the other ladies in this series, Lydia’s story is short but powerful.  Let’s read what Acts 16:11-15 say about her:

 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.  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. 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.

This portion of Acts is about Paul, Silas, and Timothy travelling to various cities sharing the gospel with residents there. The encounter Lyida, among other women, in the town of Philippi.  In order to understand more about Lydia, we need to first have a grasp on some seemingly minute details of this verse.  Lydia was not originally from Philippi, but from Thyatira, which is in Macedonia.  Historians tell us that Thyatira was renowned for it’s purple dye, and garments from there were quite desirable. The fact that Lydia was in Philippi tells us that she left her homeland and was a business woman in a very good market!  People wanted purple cloth, and she was selling it, no doubt for a nice profit.

We don’t know if Lydia was of Jewish descent, and although she was not a devout follower of God, she was open to the idea of Him and His teachings.  It is likely that she intended to be at the river during that prayer meeting, which shows that she was respectful of God. She was open and willing to learn, and ultimately became a follower after hearing Paul speak of God.

Once Lydia made her choice to follow God she surely told others, and as a result, many were baptized along with her. What does that tell us about Lydia?  She was passionate about her newfound faith! So passionate, that upon hearing of it, others wanted thats same joy Lydia had.

In addition to being a successful business woman and a new believer on fire for God, Lydia was hospitable. Paul and the others stayed with her during their time in Philippi, but she also hosted other disciples who passed through.   We know that Paul had respect for Lydia and appreciated what she was doing for the Kingdom of God, because after he and Silas are released from jail they went to stay with Lydia and were encouraged by fellow believers there (Acts 16:40).

Why Lydia is a role model:

  1. She was a hard worker, but knew the importance of spending time in worship with other believers
  2. Even though she was not a follower of God from the beginning, she recognized that spending time getting to know Him was worthwhile
  3. Desired to serve God by hosting His disciples as they came through

What we can learn from Lydia:

We are never too busy for God.  I imagine that Lydia’s garments were in high demand, and since the town of Philippi was not previously a Christian place, it is likely that she could have made sales and been profitable.  But Lydia chose to lay her work aside and make time for what was important: spending time in worship.  How often do we find ourselves running around with a mile long list of to-dos, only to fall into bed exhausted and realize we haven’t even talked to God yet? When was the last time we made an effort to sit down and read our Bible?  If Lydia can make time for God, we can too.


About Christina

20-something; rural dwelling; wife to David; homeowner; pretty good cook; wearer of skirts; friend to all cats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *