Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week, as part of our series on the identity of Jesus, we’re going to study the story of a woman in the Bible named Lydia, who was in a unique position to serve others through her generosity.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:9-15 ESV)
This story of generosity actually started with Paul. He has generously sacrificed in his life to travel and share the gospel, good news about Jesus, with people. He remained unmarried, for example, which would have been unusual for a man of his age and stature. He’s surely given up income, even though he was able to work on the side as a tentmaker when he needed income.
Because of his generosity, he’s also agile. There isn’t much slowing him down. When God says go, he can pack up and go “immediately” as he did in this story.
Now usually in these stories about the early part of his ministry, he would go to find his fellow Jews at a Synagogue. Any town with more than 10 Jewish males could form a synagogue, the center of Jewish teaching and learning, and community. This town, however, seems not to have had a synagogue, perhaps because there weren’t enough Jewish males. So Paul went looking for the Jewish women, who he found at the riverside.
Even in a society with strict gender roles, he didn’t let that stand in his way. He shared with the gathered women about Jesus, giving them his time and attention.
Question: Who else in this story comes across as generous? What signs do you see?