Welcome to the first week of our Mummy Meditations on the fruit of kindness. If you are new to Mummy Meditations, then do check out my suggestions of how to take part here, or sign up at the bottom of this post for our facebook community where you can get more help and support through the week.
I have loved this weeks verse. It really resonates with my heart to be generous and to reach out to others in need. And it has tied in nicely with me taking part in the 40 acts challenge for lent (I won’t say much more but go to the website for more info!). After reading it through a couple of times I knew there was one particular phrase that stuck out to me.
I really wanted to ponder on this phrase and figure out why on earth this type of kindness was deemed by Paul to be unusual. I mean, surely if you saw a drenched person washing up on the shore during a storm you would help them if you could? I’d like to think that I would help them (although I’m not sure what the inland version of this would be!).
Unusual because of the people washing up
After a bit of research into the story before this point, I found out that Paul was a prisoner on a ship on its way to Rome. He was amongst other prisoners too and centurions who were guarding them. Now I know that once you have jumped into a icy sea, probably jettisoned your heavy clothing, and washed up on a shore bedraggled that everyone looks a bit worse for wear! But I’m sure it would have been visible to see the hierarchy between these people (prisoner and captor) and that some were not very “favourable” to be shown kindness.
In any other circumstance prisoners would have been the last person to be shown kindness, so in a way it is highly unusual for the islanders to look after them. Without the fire that they build it is likely that the whole ships crew would have died that night. Paul had promised them that not one person on the ship would be lost. And God worked by moving these people to kindness in order to save their lives and keep Paul’s promise.
Unusual because of the people on the island
My husband (who is a bit more of a bible scholar than me!) told me that the original Greek for this verse uses the word “barbarians” as islanders. I think this verse is hard to understand for us now. We live in the time of the Greek refugee crisis where we see the pictures of orange dingy boats washing to shore and people rushing out to welcome them and make sure they are OK. Where the people washing up on shore are running from something worse and are likely to be friendly, so it is safe to look after them.
Paul lived in a time when if you lived on an island you were vulnerable. You could be attacked and taken over easily. As an islander you were hostile to outsiders, not welcoming and kind. So to hear that they were not just kind (i.e. they didn’t run out to kill them instantly!) but were over the top kind (looked to protect and care for them) is very unusual. Can you see God’s hand in this?
how can we show “unusual” kindness?
This is a fantastic story of God moving through others to see his plan come to fruition – Paul had to survive this to be able to testify in Rome and start the spread of the gospel in that influential city. But throughout this week I have also been thinking hard about what it would mean for me to show unusual kindness. Here is what I have come up with:
- Be kind to everyone. This means not judging people by their outward appearance, and just being kind wherever and whenever I can. Perhaps it also means going into situations that I would normally avoid to make sure my kindness is “unusual” and not just being received by the same people all the time.
- Avoid being a “hostile islander“. This means not having a reputation of being hostile to others and instead looking for chances to welcome people.
- Pushing myself in the unusual. This means thinking about the things I would normally do and those that I wouldn’t, and actively choosing to do kind things that I wouldn’t normally. Baking is normal for me so it would be usual for me to bake someone a cake, so I am going to look at what is more unusual for me.
- Going over the top. This means not just doing what everyone else would do but surprising people by going further and doing even more. Don’t just buy someone a coffee, buy their whole meal for example.
For our second week on kindness we will be studying this verse:
“But love you enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great , and you will be children of the Most High because he is kid to the ungrateful and wicked” Luke 6:35
Naomi will be writing up the summary post over on her blog so make sure you check it out! And if you want to get more involved and supported in your meditations during the week then do join our facebook community by filling in the form below. (We get these awesome free phone lockscreens to help us remember the verses!)