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Doing Your Duty?

Doing Your Duty?

         Through the course of our lives, we have all faced “duty” at some point. We may have been “pressed into duty” based on circumstances. This was the case among many a young man in periods of conflict or war in the history of our nation.   This military conscription, commonly known as the draft has been utilized by the U.S. federal government in six conflicts: the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The fourth incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940, through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country's first peacetime draft. From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were “drafted” to fill vacancies in the U.S. Armed Forces that could not be filled through voluntary means.
       This is but one “duty” that might need to be fulfilled. In the KJV Bible, we are able to identify 1) the duty in marriage, as is referenced in Exodus 21:10. 2) The duty as stated in Deuteronomy 25:5-7 of the O.T. Jewish brother-in-Law. 3) The duty of the O.T. priest mentioned in 2Chronicles 8:14 and again in Ezra 3:4.   4) The “conclusion of the whole matter”, in Ecclesiastes 12:13 as all humanity’s duty is laid out. 5) The duty of the Gentile Christians toward their Jewish brethren in light of the Judean famine in Romans 15:27. There are eight references to “duty in the KJV Bible, and the above addresses seven.
       The eighth reference is found in Luke 17:10, and provides the focus for this article. Unfortunately, many of the privileges we enjoy in this life may be considered as “duties” we are required to perform.   Sadly, it seems this is the case in the lives of some “so-called Christians”.   These, because they consider their service to God a “duty”, have become unprofitable. Jesus taught the Jews of His day: So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:10)
       Let’s consider this concept. We referenced Ecclesiastes 12:13 above. In this passage we are told that the word “duty” wasn’t in the original Greek text, but was included for clarity. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.   This is why the word duty is italicized in most volumes. But so that we may appease those who make such a contention, let’s state this passage without the Word “duty” included.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man. Is the meaning now any different?   Is it now any less clear?   The fact of the matter is that “the whole” of man is the “keeping the Commandments of God”.
       To further establish this point, let’s examine Titus 3:8-9. The Spirit had Paul write this epistle and warn the evangelist to not get “hung up” over the types of foolish questions and debates over foolish questions, genealogies of the Jews, and the fulfilled O.T. Law, and all such things that cause one to become unprofitable. He wrote: This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  It matters not that the Word “duty” is in Ecclesiastes 12:13 – the intent is abundantly clear with or without that word inserted.   God’s Word (His Commandments) are to be rightly applied and be diligently followed.  
       It should be viewed as our privilege, not duty, to know God’s Commands and to have the opportunity to follow these things.   Why would any want to be described as “unprofitable”? Romans 3:12-18 clearly shows the level of unprofitability in those who reuse to seek after and follow God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. This is the condition of those who think that service to God is a “duty”!
       Now, what about those who serve God (or think they do) out of duty? Do they not think they are profitable servants?   Perhaps in light of Luke 17:10, we ought to also read Matthew 25:30. There it becomes clear that the outcome for the unprofitable is undesirable. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Can we not discern the difference between that which is profitable and that which will result in eternal destruction?   God gave us 2Timothy 3:16 where we can read this and how it can help in our service to God.   All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
       Don’t just “do your duty”.   Show your love to God by reading, studying, and meditating on His Holy Word. Then make sure you OBEY ALL OF IT out of love, rather than following the teachings of man.   Just “doing your duty” to God or man makes you an unprofitable servant. No one wants that fate.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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