By Maureen Kasdorf
I have been the beneficiary of unusual and remarkable kindness more times than I can count. Meals when I couldn’t get out of bed, overnight childcare, and more. One of the many kindnesses shown to us happened when we were building our house.
There was much opposition and many neighbors fought against our house plans.
However, the neighbors who live behind us, who would be affected very directly, demonstrated more than the usual kindness. Not only did they support our build, but they graciously invited us to use their swing set, as their own children were grown and gone. They encouraged us to hang new swings and enjoy. They shared their dog with my eager children. Many times we were the recipients of the bounty of their garden. These neighbors showed us remarkable kindness in a season where there was not even regular kindness. Their selfless love and generosity will always stand as a reminder of what wonderful people they are, and as an example for me of what “beyond kindness” means.
In Acts 28, the final chapter, Paul and his shipmates are shown more than the usual kindness. Beginning in chapter 27, Luke details their shipwreck on the sea. Then chapter 28 opens with the men making it to shore on the island. However, despite the weather conditions and their probable appearance, Acts 28:2 says, “the islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us because it was raining and cold.” The islanders, who had no reason to welcome a crew of shipwrecked convicts, did something remarkable. By welcoming the men and sharing the comfort of their fire, they went beyond the usual kindness. Beyond what was expected.
Paul is not the only person who received remarkable kindness. We know Jesus showed unusual kindness to many throughout his ministry. Not just the basic kindness of the law, but radical kindness. The kind that cost something. Jesus healed, gave dignity to, and embraced people whom others barely acknowledged. And ultimately Christ Jesus showed us remarkable, unusual kindness in his sacrificial death on the cross.
What does it take to demonstrate unusual kindness? A heart of compassion, selflessness, humility. Not seeking credit or repayment.
If we search our hearts, what kind of kindness are we showing? If not unusual kindness, why not? What needs to change? What would happen if we showed unusual kindness? Would people see God if we demonstrated more than average kindness? What would happen in Wauwatosa and Milwaukee if we reflected God’s incredible, loving kindness?