Lessons to learn from a businesswoman in the Bible.
There are many biblical references to who we should be as women. If you had to pick a description of a biblical woman you’d probably go straight for Proverbs 31. Right? Isn’t that the most famous description of what a Christian woman should be? There’s nothing wrong with holding on to those characteristics, God intended for us to learn from those scriptures and to be women of biblical character.
But is there a specific woman that we can find in scripture? A specific woman to glean from as we become businesswomen for the Kingdom? Yes!
Hidden in the Book of Acts, Philippians, and Revelation is a woman who was hospitable, loved God, and had her own business, Lydia. There’s discrepancy around if Lydia is her given name or a descriptive characteristic about where she is from, but either way the Lydian or ‘Lydia’ has a small place in scripture, a large place in the history of the church, and a giant place in the knowledge we can gain.
The disciple Luke is the author of Acts and he details the history of their teachings. Acts is a book of adventure and bravery of people expanding the Kingdom of God. In Acts 16, Luke writes that Paul has a vision of where they should go. So because they are so obedient, they go. Throughout their travels they go to Macedonia, more specifically Philippi, a Roman colony. On the Sabbath they go looking for people worshipping and find women, one of which is Lydia. Luke describes her as a “seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God”
Lydia was a businesswoman who sold purple goods.
She had a product and she was selling them. The history of the location is that it was a great area to dye garments. So there she was, selling her products, worshipping God, and also opening her home to other women and the disciples. She was a Jewish woman that had her eyes and heart opened by God after hearing Paul preach. She was baptized as well as her loved ones.
“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 16:1-10 ESV
Characteristics of Lydia include business woman, devout, hospitable, serving, caring, believing, and Christian. In Revelation 2:18, Paul writes of an angel of the church in Thyatira. There’s belief that this is him referring to Lydia. He says her latter works exceed her first works. So we can learn that even her works as a businesswoman are noticed and valued, her works as a Christian are exceedingly more important.
So what do we learn from Lydia?
Hospitality // When we first hear of Lydia she’s gathered with other women worshiping God. She also invites the disciples of Jesus into her home, multiple times. Eventually, her home becomes somewhat of a church base in the city of Philippi.
Profitable // Since she doesn’t seem to have a husband and continues to work, both selling her goods and for the Kingdom of God, it would be fair to estimate that she’s making a living and providing for herself and others that she welcomes into her home.
Valued // If we refer to Revelation, we see Paul speak of the value of her work. He doesn’t diminish her work, but writes of both her first and last works as good.
Our work here is purposeful. Is it just about profits? No!
No matter if we sell products, collect grocery carts from parking lots, heal the sick, or raise children, all of that is purposeful.
God has given us gifts unique to each of us and our lives. He’s called us to things, big and small. Having a heart for God can change how we do business and how we serve others with our lives and businesses.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”