In Acts chapter 27, God used the actions of one person, a centurion named Julius, to save Paul and move him a step closer to proclaiming the gospel in Rome. In chapter 28, it took a village to carry on the plan:
After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honors on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed.
I love the descriptions here in Acts of the actions of “the natives of Malta” and of Publius, the leading man of the island, and how they cared for these shipwrecked strangers.
“They showed us unusual kindness … kindling a fire and welcoming us around it.”
“They received us and entertained us hospitably for three days”
Simples acts of kindness are seldom taken for granted. As we encounter people whose lives have run upon the rocks, are we ready to show some “unusual kindness”, welcoming them around our fires and entertaining them hospitably?
Dear God, open my eyes to the needs of the people around me today. And open my heart to show unusual kindness in Your holy name. Amen.