Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of Paul travelling to a town where he met with a group of women. We talked about Paul’s generosity in travelling, sacrificing, and crossing gender barriers to spread the news about Jesus.
But I want our real focus this week to be on Lydia, and her generosity. There are only a few lines, so here they are again:
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 16:14-15 ESV)
Have you ever met a seller of purple goods? Me neither. I’ve met people who sell stuff that happens to be purple, but not so much that I’d call them the seller of purple, down at the purple store!
In her day, however, this was a significant detail. Purple dye was very expensive, so the Bible is basically telling us she dealt in luxury fashion. She sells the cloth that the rich need when they really want to dress to impress.
There is a reason people mocking Jesus at his trial and death put a purple cloth on him – it was the colour of royalty – and a way to mock his claims to be the King of the Jews.
So Lydia was used to moving in wealthy circles and probably wealthy herself. This wouldn’t be cheap inventory to hold – she had resources and connections.
The Bible also tells us she was a worshipper of God. That means she probably wasn’t born a Jew, but was converting to Judaism. When she heard about Jesus, however, that sealed the deal. Her heart was opened to everything Paul said, and she decided to be baptized.
Now, way back in Acts 2 we see that this wasn’t a small decision. Joining the Christian church meant sharing your possessions with others in need. This woman had much wealth to distribute, and probably made a conscious decision to follow Jesus either way.
Paul had been generous to her – it’s part of following Jesus – and now she’s immediately generous to him. She asks him to visit her home, and is actually rather insistent when he initially refuses.
She has been very blessed in her life, and now she wants to bless others. She didn’t become destitute, giving away everything until nothing was left. She became generous, sharing everything she had with others. She has a nice home, so she offers it to the travelling missionaries who changed her life. She has a message about Jesus that’s changed her life, so she shares it with her family, who are baptized as well.
All this generosity is a sign of how God has transformed her life. She sees her generosity and hospitality as proof of her sincerity and conversion, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.”
Question: Would anyone in your life see your generosity as proof of your faith? What would it take for them to see it?