What can we learn from Lydia in the Bible?

If someone were to describe you and your attributes in a few words, what would they say?  Would they highlight your personality, your physical features, or maybe your profession?  Maybe they would focus on your unique talents or experiences that make you stand out.  

Scripture is full of snapshots of characters that were important to the movement of the gospel.  Sometimes we get more details than others.  In other cases, we find small, discrete discussions that give us glimpses into their lives.  It is in these studies, as we lean in, look, and listen, that we find truths that can transform the way we live.  Such is the case with Lydia.

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Why was Lydia Important in the Bible?

Lydia was a woman of God found in a few verses of the New Testament book of Acts. Though to the reader she may seem insignificant, her life, like all of us, held tremendous worth.  God had a plan for her intersection with those in the early beginnings of the church.  It is in just a few verses of Scripture we see why Lydia was important in the Bible.

Lydia Was a Savvy Businesswoman

Our initial introduction to Lydia is seen in Acts 16.  Here we read,  

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods…” (Acts 16:15, ESV)

Lydia was in the region of Philippi when her life intersected with the apostle Paul.  Most likely we discover that she had crossed the Mediterranean Sea and was part of the bustling economy found in the region of Philippi where she was a trader and seller of fine fabrics and linens.

Purple was considered the richest fabric one could possess at the time. It would have taken a certain amount of skill to negotiate prices, trade goods, and keep inventory moving.  Lydia would have worked hard to establish this business sense.  As a result, she was known and respected in the community. 

Lydia Was a Follower of Christ

One of the characteristics highlighted in this passage is that 

“…Lydia was a worshiper of God….” (Acts 16:15, ESV)

Prior to her encounter with Paul, who happened to be on his second missionary journey, Lydia had been introduced to who God was.  Despite her busy lifestyle as a businesswoman, she honored the Sabbath and was found at a prayer meeting.  Lydia took the steps necessary to practice spiritual disciplines that spoke of her faith in God.  She was willing and ready to accept all God had to offer her and because of these rhythmic practices, she was blessed.

Lydia Shared the Gospel

Lydia didn’t keep what she learned to herself.  She shared this truth with the waiting and watching world.  Upon hearing and believing Lydia 

“…was baptized, and her household as well…” (Acts 16:15, ESV)

Lydia was so moved by the work of God in her life she didn’t want to contain it.  She took the hope and joy she found and shared it with those closest to her and they also believed.  This commitment to those she loved showed her understanding of the gospel’s purpose-to share it with others.

Lydia understood the at God loved her deeply and she could share that with others.  For further reflection on this strength, you may enjoy reading “She is Clothed with Strength and Dignity”

Do Your Own Bible Study of Lydia

If you would like to do your own study of Lydia in the Bible, make sure you grab the character Bible study worksheet kit. These worksheets will help you do your own study of this amazing woman of faith.

Bible Study Worksheet Kits

Lessons from Lydia in the Bible

As women of God, we learn a number of important lessons from these few verses about Lydia in the Bible.  

Our Identity is Found in Jesus 

We can often struggle in finding our identity as wives, moms, daughters, career women, and friends.  Success can seem like the ultimate gain.  Well-behaved children or a thriving marriage can become an idol.  But when we look at the life of this woman, we see a different story.

Lydia, despite her great success, quietly focused on lasting priorities.  She put her hope and focus on Christ and was able to be identified as a daughter of the King

Your Past Never Needs to Determine Your Future

Because there is so little we know about Lydia, we don’t know exactly what her past looked like.  However, we do know that she came from wealth and a culture that valued riches and affluence.  While it is not clear, we can assume that Lydia was influenced by some degree by the cultural climate in which she frequented.  However, she was a Gentile worshiping the Jewish God.  Her past, however, was not an indicator of her future.

Lydia’s past became a catalyst to her future with Christ.  She was in Philippi and was able to attend a prayer meeting which ultimately led to a greater understanding of the gospel.  Historians often credit Lydia as being one of the first converts of the gospel after Christ ascended to heaven. This testament of faith allows us to see the power of the work of God and that He redeems anyone willing to submit to Him.

Hospitality Can be a Powerful Catalyst for Sharing the Gospel

We see in this passage that Lydia was willing to open her home to others.  When we are willing to welcome others, we open ourselves up to sharing the gospel freely and practically.  Lydia welcomed Paul and his companions into her home.

While this may seem like the end of Lydia’s story, this one act was the beginning of encouragement by Lydia for others.  Further in Acts 16, we read that after Paul and Silas were released from prison 

“…they visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.” (Acts 16:40, ESV)

Lydia’s obedience and hospitality provided encouragement and fellowship amongst believers as the gospel continued to be shared around the world.

Our lives determine how others view Jesus.  Above all she did, Lydia shared the faith she found in Christ with her world.  This woman of influence and reputation is an encouraging example of how our lives can be a testament to God and His love.  When we seek Him, there is no telling how His work through us will impact others for the kingdom.

Lydia in the Bible

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About the Author

Laura Sumpter

Laura is passionate about sharing Scripture with women. She had found through her own mountains and valleys that God has been the only consistent source of hope and joy. A wife, mama to 3, educator, avid gardener and DIYer, Laura can often be found spending time with her incredible family and taking long walks in between her latest creative endeavor. You can read more of her work on Courageous Hearts or connect with her on Instagram.

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