Ruth: A dealer in purple cloth (with a heart for others)

I hope you’re all enjoying the Women of the Bible Series so far, you can catch up on the previous posts here.

Photo cred: http://www.thetinytwig.com/ (This site is such an inspiration to me- give it a browse)

Today we’re discussing Ruth…

So, who is she?

Commonly regarded as the first convert to Christianity in Europe, her story can be found in Acts 16.

We know Lydia had wealth, she was a well-established seller of purple cloth and her profession in the textiles trade certainly would have made her an influential figure in society.

But who is she really?

So we know that she’s wealthy, probably of a high social status- we have an indication as to her class but what about her character?

13‘On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple-cloth’

Lydia is found in a ‘place of prayer’, she may be in a position of influence but she is humble, she willingly pust herself in a position of surrender, of thanksgiving, of praise, of prayer to the Lord.

What I always find interesting in Bible study is when you feel you catch a glimpse of the personality, not just the position, when you see the heart of the individual. Here we have clear signals as to Lydia’s public appearance but we also receive an insight into her private, internal temperament.

We are told that ‘her heart was opened to respond to Paul’s message’. So quite straightforwardly she makes a decision for Jesus…but there is more to her response. You see, she doesn’t just open her heart to the Lord, she opens up her home to the visitors.

15 ‘When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.’

I know I’ve touched on this already in a previous post (Who is your faith benefitting?) but I feel a really strong conviction about the fact that being gospel-minded automatically makes you people-minded. Lydia welcomed Jesus into her life, but also others. She extended hospitality to those who needed it, in response to her heart being moved by the message of Jesus. You may have noticed that in the title of this post I couldn’t help but add a little to her biblical description because there’s more to her than her profession- she truly has a heart for others and I believe that’s worth focusing on.

What I love most about Lydia is that as the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe we know that she wasn’t influenced by her community, her peers, her parents. Here we see the gospel for what it is- true, powerful, moving. We see a heart moved into following Jesus but also to help others. We see a woman having a personal, authentic encounter with God- how beautiful is that?

My prayer is that as I head of to Uni in September I would make room for loads of people in my life. If you’re off to Uni too, or perhaps heading into a job or further training (anywhere that you’ll encounter new people basically) let’s not let the pressure of deadlines, of work, of others opinions, distract us from making time for others, from building meaningful relationships and welcoming people into our world.

Ella x

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