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. Acts 16: 13-15
Because of Lydia’s profession, “a dealer in purple cloth,” Lydia was recognized in her community for her accomplishments. Like we recognize car dealers from local television commercials, Lydia was recognized for her purple cloth. I imagine fair dealing, quality merchandise, great sales, and repeat customers.
Thyatira was known historically for having many guilds, which held people together by common interests. One was a dyers’ guild. She might even have been involved in a guild of Jewish dyers, where they might also have worshiped and prayed together. It would be like being involved in a committee at the local civic organization. We can assume that Lydia was a part of that guild—perhaps even a leader—and that she had influence within that group due to her business success. Let’s face it, then, just like now, if a woman had time to gather with others at the city gate (or civic organization), she had the luxury of free time, which would have been a measure of her accomplishment. She had achieved a lifestyle of quiet satisfaction.
Lydia is a brilliant example of a businesswoman of her day. She possessed ability, enthusiasm, purpose, focus, and she was smart! Her calling was to sell purple. It gave her honor, prosperity and independence. As a matter of cultural fact, a woman of her day would not ordinarily invite a troupe of itinerant preachers like Paul and his group to come stay at her house without first consulting the man in her life for permission. We don’t know if Lydia was married, divorced, widowed or married to an unbeliever. In any case, Lydia had to be very well respected for her invitation to host this group in her home to be socially acceptable. She had to have a home big enough to accommodate her guests and the servants to care for them. All measures of her accomplishment.
So how do we emulate Lydia’s accomplishments? God has given you a purpose here on earth that no one else can do quite like you. That is your calling. Whether you are a stay at home mom, CEO, entrepreneur, volunteer, or something in between, God’s plan for your life is playing out whether you realize it or not. When we pariticpate with what God is doing with our best ability, enthusiasm, purpose, and focus, we honor God and we look smart! It brings respect to us and makes us accomplished, like Lydia. That’s what prepares us for the big things, like hosting legends in our homes.
So SLOTH Characteristic 2 is really just doing and being the best you that you can be. How have you experienced that quiet satisfaction with your best lately?
I am indebted to BibleGateway.com for their Women of the Bible eNewsletter which provided the historical data for this blog post. I highly recommend it!