Vol. 5, No. 7
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For several years now, maybe even as many as thirty years, duty has been looked down upon as a just motive for any activity. The word "duty" has become archaic, and the whole concept is looked upon as something totally undesirable. Even in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ where duty has always been considered a good motive for doing the will of Christ, there are some that have come to accept the worldly view that if we do anything out of a sense of duty, we are not acting with the highest possible motivation. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus, while living upon this earth, set forth duty as a good motive for serving him, when he said, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" Hence, the Lord did not condemn the motivation of duty, but showed it to be justified. Therefore, we should not be afraid, as Christians, to act out of a sense of duty, because there is a vital connection between duty and love.
The word "duty" may have gone out of vogue in the popular parlance of the American people, but the concept has not, and that is because the concept of duty cannot be escaped. Every time someone says that he, or someone else, "ought" to do a certain thing, he is talking about duty. Duty is doing the thing that ought to be done under the given circumstance. Various political candidates tell us that we "ought" to go vote. All they are saying is that it is our duty, as well as an American privilege, to vote in our national, regional and local elections. They told us what we should do if we are going to live as good citizens of this nation. When a doctor tells us that we "ought" to take a certain medication for some disease, he is telling us that it is our duty to care for our bodies by taking that particular medication. Hence, "ought" and "duty" go hand in hand.
When the soldiers marched off to war in the two great World Wars, in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, or any other war so far as that is concerned, why did they go? Perhaps there were a few who went out of a sense of adventure, and/or because they loved to fight. But the vast majority of those men who went to fight in these wars went because it was their duty to protect and defend the American way of life. Most of those men took no pleasure in the fighting and in the carnage, but they saw their duty and they did it. A grateful nation utters belated thanks, and gives some of the soldiers a small pension for the pain and suffering endured due to that war. But most of the time, we do not thank these men because both they and we look upon what they did as a duty. It was an important duty, one that preserved our way of life, but a duty none-the-less.
In Luke Seventeen, Jesus taught that the Master does not allow a servant coming in from a hard day's work in the fields to bathe and rest while the master prepares supper for him, but tells the servant to wash up, and fix the master's supper, and then later he may eat and be refreshed. (7-10) So, a nation is with those who have protected her, and so we are today, even with the hired servants in our homes, or offices. We expect every person to do his duty in the realm of things physical. Why should we think it a strange thing that God would have the same desire of us in the spiritual realm?
Furthermore, the life of the Christian is likened to that of a soldier in Ephesians Six, where those people were commanded to put on the whole armor of God. And though Paul is speaking figuratively, in that he gives each part of the armor of the ancient soldier a spiritual application, still those early Christians, and Christians in our day and time, made up, and make up, a great army for the Lord. We all recognize this, and we even sing, "Onward Christian Soldiers." Hence the ethic of duty is not only a justifiable ethic, it is a necessary one if we are going to live for Christ the kind of life that love demands.
One cannot help but wonder what would happen in the body of Christ if everyone who has been neglecting his duty, and has been salving his conscience with the false notion that duty is not the highest motivation, would simply forget about such a philosophy and start doing his duty toward Yahweh, Christ, the Holy Spirit, his brothers and sisters in Christ, and his fellow man. It is the belief of this writer that we would amaze ourselves with what we would do for the cause of Christ upon this sin-benighted earth. Let me admonish and encourage each of us to learn our duty from the pages of inspiration, and then do that duty as God gives us the strength to do so.