Zealous for Good Deeds
The world was different during the days of Abraham. People lived longer. Abraham, for
example, lived to be one hundred seventy five (Gen. 25:7). As a result, it is difficult to know
what each stage of life looked like back then. Abraham was one hundred when Isaac was born
(Gen. 21:5). How deep were his wrinkles? How thin had his arms and legs become? I don’t
know. He probably wasn’t frail the way a hundred-year-old person would be today. But he
wasn’t middle aged either. Instead, Abraham is described as “old” and “advanced in age.” His
wife, though ten years younger than Abraham, was “past childbearing” age (Gen. 18:11).
With that much information, can you imagine what Abraham would look like at one hundred?
Personally, I think of someone in their seventies. Imagine someone like that, then re-read the
account of Genesis 18.
Think about the setting. Abraham is “old”. It’s the middle of a hot day. Suddenly, three men
appear (Gen. 18:1-2). Don’t lose sight of the details here. Hot. Old.
Watch what Abraham does next.
He ran from the tent door to meet them (Gen.18:2). He asked the three men to stay so that he
could offer them water, bread, and shade (Gen. 18:3-5). Then, Abraham hurried into the tent
(Gen. 18:6) where he told Sarah to quickly prepare bread cakes. Sarah doesn’t pull out a can of
Pillsbury instant dough. No. Nothing like that. She starts with flour, kneads it, then bakes it.
Abraham wanted his guests to have meat, but there were no fast-food restaurants in those days.
So instead, Abraham “ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the
servant” (Gen. 18:7). The servant, then, “hurried to prepare it” (Gen. 18:7).
Once everything was prepared, Abraham offered it to his guests. While they ate, he “was
standing by them” (Gen. 18:8) almost as though he’d become their waiter.
That was an awful lot of activity for an old man in the middle of a hot day. The three men might
have kept on going had Abraham not begged them to stay. They would have gone their way and
Abraham could have gone back to cooling himself at the tent door. Instead, Abraham
volunteered for the opportunity to serve. He ran everywhere. He did everything as quickly as he
could and offered the best he had.
That, my friends, is what being zealous for good deeds looks like. Volunteering for the
opportunity to serve. Making service the priority, hurrying from task to task rather than getting
around to it whenever it becomes convenient. Offering up the best one has to offer, giving the
tender and choice calf.
Like Abraham, we are to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14) and we “must learn to engage
in good deeds to meet pressing needs” (Titus 3:14). If you ever want to know what that looks
like, think of one-hundred-year-old Abraham running around on a hot day to give the best he had
to three guests. Then go and behave in a similar fashion.
One might argue that Abraham only did these things because he recognized that these were not
ordinary guests. Indeed, one of them was God / Yawheh (Gen. 18:1) and the other two were
angels (Gen. 19:1). I don’t know how quickly Abraham recognized who his guests were, but
that has no bearing on the way we should behave today. We are supposed to see our
opportunities to serve men as opportunities to serve God. Who knows, maybe you are serving
angels too (Heb. 13:2). Additionally, Jesus taught us that when we serve men, we are actually
serving Him (Mt. 25:34-45). So the pertinent question isn’t whether Abraham knew who he was
serving. The question is whether we recognize who we are actually serving.