Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 20:14-18

14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.

16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.

17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.

18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

When Pharaoh discovered that Abraham was Sarah’s husband he sent them on their way. Abimelech, on the other hand, shows much more graciousness in his response. He expresses his frustration to Abraham and Sarah, reproves them for their deceit, but then offers them a gift and invites them to dwell in his land wherever they prefer.

One might say that this was just Abimelech trying to enter Abraham’s good graces so that the prophet would intervene for his sake, but the record shows that even after Abraham prayed for Abimelech’s household and everything was returned to normal that the two of them remained honorable towards one another.

We don’t learn too much about this king in the biblical record, but he seems to be a man of great maturity and integrity. When he was offended, he expressed it plainly, but immediately afterwards did his part to repair relationships and establish goodwill.

Service to Others- Matthew 7:12, James 1:27

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.


I remember one winter, years ago, my church’s youth group decided to put together a bundle of gifts for a family that could not afford them. We went to the store and bought nice toys and clothes off a list, honestly nicer things than I would receive myself for Christmas. Then we went to the little home of the family where a couple kids about our age took the gifts, saw that we were done delivering things to them, and quickly closed the door.
I felt quite disappointed. It had none of the gratitude and love I had always heard of in Christmas stories.
Frankly, I think we do people a disservice by how we over-glamorize service. None of the stories you hear prepare you for the fact that sometimes you might not get told thank you. We don’t ever mention that the person you help might establish a manipulative relationship to try and get more things from you. We never warn that your effort to do good might backfire and cause more harm.
None of which is to say that service is a bad thing. It’s just that if all I hear is how wonderful the experience is going to be for me personally, then my primary motivation is likely going to be for myself.

Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them
Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction
Notice that neither of these scriptures give any expectation for what will follow your act of service. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Full stop. No promise that they’ll respond in kind. Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. Full stop. Doesn’t matter if they appreciate it. Doesn’t matter if your effort had a meaningful impact or not. Just do unto others. Just visit the afflicted.
Though it seems ridiculously obvious, I believe a lot of us struggle to instill this one core principle of service: it is about others, not ourselves. Yes we often receive good feeling from doing it…but sometimes we don’t. And when we don’t, that’s fine, that does not mean that we failed. The true purpose of service, to do unto others, has still been fulfilled.