As we’ve reflected on the law of God written on the hearts of every human being, we recognize there are things Christians share with all mankind that should be recognized and celebrated. There are limits however to what people can actually know by common grace. How do we as God’s people best communicate God’s saving grace by means which every person can understand?
1. The Blessing of Kindness
Paul is shown uncommon kindness by the Maltese after the boat he’s prisoner on is shipwrecked. It’s a beautiful picture that kindness is not just for Christians. None of us would want to truly live in a world where only Christians are capable of showing kindness. It’s a blessing to know God allows non-believers and believers alike to be kind.
2. The Limit of Kindness
What our passage shows us though is that kindness is not enough to save. Being nice people doesn’t rescue the Maltese from their spiritual lost-ness. As Christians, we often forget that as well. We sometimes make the mistake of valuing and protecting kindness over gospel truth. The world needs more than kindness. It needs Jesus Christ.
3. The Language of Kindness
So how do we reconcile the blessing and limit of kindness? Gospel hospitality rooted in the kindness shown to us by Christ. We demonstrate an alien kindness in a culture that keeps its doors short, alienates people based on racial, social, and political lines. We welcome people with the welcome of Christ, counting nothing as sacrifice, turning strangers into neighbors and eventually family in God.
"Niceness"-wholesome, integrated personality-is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power, to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up "nice"; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world-and might even be more difficult to save. - C.S. Lewis
Gospel hospitality is welcoming people into your living space and treating strangers as family so God can turn some of them into friends. - Tim Keller
Reflection and Discussion Questions
Why is it a good thing that God has allowed all mankind to demonstrate kindness? What kind of world would it be if this were not the case?
When have you seen kindness and hospitality make people friends who you would never expect to be?
Are there ways in which “niceness” and being kind to others is a form of self-justification for you? That kindness is more the root of holiness than Christ is?
Have you desired to keep “nice" and “kind” relationships with your co-workers, neighbors, and friends at the expense of sharing truth with them? Why?
Think of two or three people who you’ve desired to receive God’s welcome in Christ. Pray for them. Then contact them and spend time with them over the next couple of weeks. Invite them over, share a meal, and develop a relationship with them.
Hospitality, kindness, and welcome should not be individual endeavors. Find a way to join other believers in showing hospitality and kindness, knowing Jesus has always used the church to welcome the world.