Abraham is courteous to strangers

One of the most fascinating events of the Bible is found in our text, Gen. 18:1-16. Abraham has the opportunity to entertain angels and the Lord. But, he did not know at the first that was who they were. So far as he knew, there were three travelers who happened by his home. His courtesy was exemplary. Notice the totality of his courtesy.

  • His courtesy was automatic. As soon as he saw them, his characteristic of courtesy took over his actions. Being courteous was not just something he remembered to do. He so much thought of himself as a servant to others that courtesy was part of his character. Parents, we do well when we devote great time in teaching and modeling consideration for others to our children.
  • He ran to meet them from the tent door. He was anxious to show his courtesy. He was anxious. He did not see this courtesy as a burden, but an opportunity. I am reminded again of our slogan, ‘Courtesy opens doors.’ It is well worth remembering.
  • He addressed one of them as Lord and bowed himself to the ground. No pride told him he should act like their equal or that he should treat them as “only” as good as himself. He gave the accepted, though not always common, greeting of courtesy. Our courtesy will help us to build relationships. Let’s cultivate it in ourselves.
  • He wanted them to be rested and comfortable. In showing courtesy, we are, of course, trying to bring peacefulness, acceptance, comfort and value to those to whom we express it.
  • Had food prepared for them. Consider that this was not a microwave meal. Abraham’s courtesy in hospitality expended much energy. I remember a story in which a teacher was leaving an island where she had had a great impact upon the local students. As a going away present, one of the young men gave her a simple but beautiful seashell. The teacher, knowing the island and that the only place one could get such a shell was many hours walk away, commented on how far the student must have gone. The student replied, “Long walk is part of gift.” When our courtesy, like Abraham’s, “goes to the trouble” of much effort, it expresses the value we place upon the recipient whom we may have just met.
  • Verse 16 says that Abraham even escorted them a small distance to “show them on their way.” His courtesy was thorough. There was never an indication that he wished they would leave so he could go back to his life. At that moment in time, his life was about his courtesy to them.

Let’s mimic Abraham. Courtesy opens doors.

Mike Glenn