The ministry of hospitality is one of the most critical ministries within the local church. Its roots extend deep in the biblical traditions of the Old and New Testaments, going back as far as the days of Abraham. Being hospitable meant not only providing for the human guests, but also their animals as well. In all of the ancient cultures, hospitality was viewed as a key element of what is meant to be a civilized community. Within Roman society, the entertainment of guest was considered to be a sacred duty.
In this week’s lesson (Acts 28:1-10), Luke continues to tell about Paul’s voyage to Rome. Paul was a prisoner and he was on the ship because he had made an appeal to appear before Caesar, who would make a final decision whether or not Paul was guilty of anything worthy of death according to Roman law. Throughout the voyage, Luke emphasizes that the actions of people are controlled by the providence of God. God sent Paul to Rome to be a witness of Jesus Christ.
Paul and the 275 other passengers on board have survived a storm and a shipwreck. When the people in charge on the ship, lost control of the situation and all hope of survival was lost, Paul assumed the role of leader and guided their actions. Paul promised all on board the ship that God would protect them. The ship had been tossed about by the winds, and the sailors did not know where they were.
In our lesson, the apostle Paul and his fellow travelers were shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The natives of Malta were very gracious and kind to Paul and the other voyagers. The people of Malta treated the visitors as family and gave them everything that they need to make their stay pleasant. Paul in turn was given the opportunity by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel of the Lord and to heal many of their diseases. In this lesson, we learn very valuable principles about how to minister to people during times of their greatest need.
One of the most important truths that emerge from this period in Paul’s life is the reality of God’s promise of protection and provision. God’s will was going to be accomplished in Paul’s life, and although they had run into a period of extreme conditions, they were not the terminus of the apostle’s life – just a short detour on the journey. Believers can always be encouraged and take heart in knowing that God’s plan for our lives will come to a pass. We can do all things through Him who strengthens us and empowers us to overcome the most challenging circumstances (see Philippians 4:13). There are times in life when we will find the most unusual blessings in the most unlikely places.
Throughout his many years of service to Jesus Christ, Paul experienced numerous trials and hardships. On Paul’s final journey, God granted him a respite from the struggles of the past. Rather than Paul enduring harsh treatment on his journey, God opened the hearts and doors of people to treat him with kindness. It is true that we reap what we sow – in this life and in the life to come.
Christians must act with mercy and kindness toward all people. Christians do not look for money when they do service for the Lord. God will have others bless them when they show kindness and charity.
Edna M. Thompson
Siloam Youth Sunday School Teacher