SETTING THE PACE /
A couple of weeks ago, I concluded preaching through the book of Acts. It took us over a year to finish, but we did, and it was an incredibly rewarding study. The book of Acts is such a needed book of the Bible for the church to study today because it challenges you to do the basics and to do them well. The North American church is often divided and distracted, and Acts is helpful to unify and energize God’s people around the most important things.
As we came to the last chapter of Acts, I was struck by something I had never seen before in my study. The Apostle Paul was on his way to Rome and the journey had been long and difficult. One of the final places they were forced to stop, due to a shipwreck, was a place called Malta. When Paul and the others reached the island, they were greeted by some of the Maltese people. The Bible says, “The people showed us unusual and extraordinary kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all.” The phrase that stuck out to me was “extraordinary kindness.”
You might not remember, but there were over 200 people on the ship, many of which were prisoners. This was a motley crew of men. The local people could have been unwelcoming or even violent with these men, but instead, they welcomed them. The scripture goes on to say that one of the leaders in Malta “entertained us hospitably” for three days. In other words, they rolled out the proverbial red carpet for complete strangers.
The reason I was struck by this was because the Maltese people had no reason to be kind to these men, much less, 276 of them. They went out of their way, not just to show them kindness, but to show them extraordinary kindness. This led me to ask the question, “Am I prone to extraordinary kindness?” Truly, how quick am I to show abundant kindness to people I do not even know? It is easy to be kind to people you know or whom you like, but what about to complete strangers?
Galatians chapter 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, there are certain traits God gives His people. They are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” One of the fruits of the Spirit is kindness. What does that mean, though? Can anyone show kindness, or is kindness only shown by Christians? The answer is, anyone can show general kindness, but there is a deeper kindness that God gives people the ability to show. What do I mean by that?
Think about it like this. If someone falls down, anyone can help a person up and show a simple act of kindness. Anyone can open a door for a stranger. The kindness that God produces goes beyond those things. For example, forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply by showing the love and forgiveness Christ has shown you. That kind of kindness is not something you can do by yourself. Yes, people who are not Christians can forgive, but the forgiveness that comes from God is one that points to God. When a Christian shows kindness, it should be a reflection of Christ. One of the goals of every Christ-follower should be to love, serve, and care for others the way God has done those things to them.
This week, what if every one of us decided to show extraordinary kindness, especially to strangers and to those who do not deserve it? Imagine what the world would look like. Today, make it your ambition to be known as someone who shows unusual and abundant kindness, and just watch the impact you will have on people’s lives. See you next week!