28 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. The unusual kindness we want to think about today is like an uncommon kindness. It can be an extraordinary kindness, or it can be an ordinary kindness done with an uncommon attitude. Often, we are kinder, or nicer to others when we want something or expect something from them. Usually, we are kinder to people we know and like, or if they can benefit us in some way. Now an unusual kindness then, is where we would show kindness to a stranger, or where we perform an act of kindness which may not give us benefit. It can also be performing acts of kindness toward those who cannot pay us back, or where we do not expect to receive anything back. In this passage we will see the unusual kindness of some island people, and learn about the unusual kindness that God gives to all of us. The islanders showed unusual kindness. Why was this considered unusual kindness? First of all, all 276 people who landed were strangers. Secondly, the Maltese people and those who were on the ship did not speak the same language and could not communicate verbally. Thirdly, the Maltese islanders saw strangers who may have had nothing to give to them, but they had compassion on them as if they were neighbours. They were shipwrecked, and soaking wet from swimming ashore. To add insult to injury, it was still raining, and it was cold. So the islanders provided what they needed most: fire and heat. But, as well as the unusual kindness shown by the Islanders, we see the unusual kindness shown by God, to Paul, keeping him safe, even in the face of being bitten by a venomous snake, and then in turn, to the Islanders, as they see the power and presence of God in the miracles of healing for Paul, and the healing of their own people.
Just as the islanders first showed unusual kindness to Paul and everyone on the ship, God also showed unusual kindness to them by healing all of the sick in their land. They did not have any expectations, but took compassion on these poor, distressed people. Some of the people they took care of were God’s people, and God in his grace brought healing to the islanders. This exchange perhaps went on for the 3 months that Paul was there.
What unusual kindness have you experienced from God? Ephesians 1 tells us of all the blessings we have in Jesus. God chose us in Jesus before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, we are marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance in eternal life. Give thanks for this unusual kindness for you, and ‘pay it forward’, by showing God’s unusual kindness to others as you live the life being a disciple of Jesus calls you into, and equips you for.