Summary: Lydia, A Model Christian Woman 1) She humbly received the word of God 2) She gladly served the kingdom of God
So Moms, are you tired of all the Mother’s Day pieces yet? I’m talking about the newspaper articles and television clips at this time of year that extol “super moms.” You know, they’re the women who keep their family fed with gourmet meals and dressed in the latest fashions while they themselves manage to have weekly coffee with friends, advance in a career, save the whales, and look great through it all. I suppose a little self-evaluation is not a bad a thing but if you’re going to compare yourself to other women you might as well compare yourself to a woman God obviously approved of. Today we’ll see that Lydia, an early convert to Christianity, was a model Christian woman. She humbly received the word of God, and she gladly served the kingdom of God.
Lydia was from the city of Thyatira in present-day western Turkey. That’s not where she was, however, when the Apostle Paul and his companions met her. She was living in the Greek city of Philippi. Paul had come to Philippi after he received a vision of a man urging him to cross the Aegean Sea to spread the gospel in Greece. If the vision led Paul to believe that people would mob him to learn about Jesus as soon as he landed in Greece, he was mistaken. As far as we know Paul didn’t find anyone to talk to Jesus about until he reached the city of Philippi. And even then it was several days before Paul and his companions found a group to preach to. And what a humble group it was. This group didn’t meet in an ornate synagogue in the city center. They met outside of town on the banks of a river for regular prayer. And ironically (considering Paul’s vision) there wasn’t a man in the bunch!
Lydia, of course, was one of the women who regularly gathered for prayer at this spot. We’re told that she was a dealer in purple cloth. She had obviously built a successful business for herself because she was later able to house Paul and his companions while they stayed in Philippi. It seems that Lydia already knew something about the true God before Paul got to her. She may have learned about God from the many Jews who lived in her hometown of Thyatira. But although she knew about God, she still hadn’t heard that God’s promised Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. This, of course, is what Paul told Lydia and she believed.
Let’s pause here to mention a few things that make Lydia a model Christian woman. The first thing that sticks out in my mind is that even though Lydia was a successful businesswoman she made time for regular worship. As busy as she must have been she wasn’t too busy to make the weekly trek out to the river to join fellow believers in prayer. Don’t you think it would have been easy for Lydia to say, “Why do I need to go down to the river to pray? I can do that right here in my home and save myself time and hassle.” No. Lydia understood the importance of getting together with fellow believers. She knew that she needed their encouragement and that she could be an encouragement to them.
Lydia sets an example for anyone who considers herself or himself a believer. Although she wouldn’t have known this portion of Scripture since it hadn’t been written yet, Lydia would have agreed whole-heartedly with the words, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). A model believer does not make excuses for why she can’t be in worship. She’ll make the effort to regularly join fellow believers or at least arrange to have believers regularly come to her with God’s Word. It’s true; going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sticking your hand in the freezer makes you an ice cream bar. But if you are an ice cream bar, you better not stay out of the freezer. Likewise if you are a true believer, you better not stay away from God’s house and his people otherwise your faith will melt.
I also find it interesting that despite being a successful businesswoman who must have enjoyed the finer things of life, Lydia wasn’t put off by the humble surroundings of her prayer group. You probably wouldn’t mind meeting by the river today for worship since it’s nice out but what about when it gets hot and the mosquitoes come out? Would you be as eager to gather for outside worship then? And wouldn’t it have been easy for Lydia to take the study of God’s Word lightly because of her simple surroundings? I hope that’s not what you think when you come to our little church. Your surroundings here are not spectacular like a cathedral but the Word you receive here is no less magnificent. Thankfully this congregation has already agreed that it’s time we start feasting on the gourmet food of God’s Word in surroundings that match the Word’s splendor. No, we don’t build a new church for ourselves but for all those who come to us to learn more about the Savior. Our building should not be a stumbling block for them.