Text: Acts 27:39-28:10
The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
- Acts 28:2
In one of my favorite passages of Scripture, we find Paul on a boat full of prisoners and soldiers bound for Rome. During the journey, they are caught in a horrific storm and end up shipwrecked on a completely unfamiliar island. Prisoners are jumping overboard to avoid being killed by the soldiers, and one centurion goes out of his way to save Paul. It must have been total chaos. All of the men eventually wash ashore… cold, wet, scared, and tired.
I imagine in Acts 28, when the natives of Malta looked out and saw that ship tossing in the waves, they wondered what would happen next. Children playing on the beach ran to get their parents. Parents told neighbors, friends and shop owners, until word of the boat spread across town. Eventually even the island leaders knew. Who were the people on the ship? Would they be dead? Alive? Where were they from?
Before the townspeople even had a chance to learn that the men were prisoners, they welcomed Paul and that rag-tag bunch and showed them unusual kindness. The men were cold, so they kindled a fire. They were without shelter, so the chief of the entire island, Publius, invited them to stay. Scripture says that he entertained them hospitably for 3 days. In kindness and love—for strangers!— he invited these men into his home, not just until daybreak, but for 3 full days.
In a culture where taking people in was certainly more commonplace than it is today, something about the way these Maltan people went above and beyond what was expected stood out even to Paul. Their kindness was uncommon and extraordinary. And when the group finally left, the Maltans honored them greatly and supplied them with all they needed.
Sometimes hospitality goes beyond invitation. Sometimes it is simply a love that meets and exceeds real needs with peculiar and abnormal kindness.
But, meeting needs can involve a giving away of our time, space, and stuff. We will be asked to sacrifice. Extending true hospitality may not be convenient, expected, or even common, but as followers of Christ, we aren’t called to be common. We are called to unusual kindness and love.
Jesus said, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35, ESV).
It didn’t matter to the Maltans who those men from the ship were. They were a bunch of prisoners—people on the way to receive punishment for their crimes— but they were caught off guard, renewed and rescued with unusual kindness.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
– Titus 3:4-6
Unusual kindness indeed.
Logan Wolfram is the Executive Director of Allume who most loves to write, connect, and encourage women. Daughter of a most extravagant and hospitable King, wife to Jeremy, and mother to 2 wild and inquisitive little boys, her days are filled with a combination of routine and plenty of the unexpected.