Just as God promised, everyone on board survived the shipwreck. They had endured a tremendous storm, and now one by one they found their way onto the island of Malta. Cold, wet, afraid – perhaps not knowing what to expect. But as they came out of the water, their fears dissolved as they were welcomed to a bonfire prepared to keep them warm.
Luke, an eyewitness who recorded these events, described these actions of the natives as showing us “no little kindness.” From one of the words in that description comes our word “philanthropy.” Our minds may envision the super-rich who make large donations to hospitals or schools, but actually, the word simply means “love of mankind.” A large fortune is not required. Rather, it takes compassion that acts on behalf of those who are hurting or in need.
“Love of mankind” is expressed in many different ways, whether through acts of kindness or words of encouragement. It is not the size of the gift – it is the condition of the heart behind the gift that matters. Jesus said that a cup of cold water given in his name would not be forgotten. And Paul said that he could make the ultimate sacrifice – giving his body to be burned – but without love, it would be worthless.
Inspiration uses this word only one other time in scripture. As Paul described God’s actions to save, he said, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared” (Titus 3:4). Just prior to this he described the disastrous effect of sin in our lives – leaving us much like victims of a shipwreck. Yet, because of God’s “love for mankind,” he has provided a way for us to be rescued from the perils of sin and be brought into the warmth of his fellowship.
Be sure to avail yourself of that rescue from sin that God’s “love of mankind” provides – it comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then, be sure to build the fires of “no little kindness” that warm the hearts and lives of those around you who have been wrecked by this cold and cruel world.