On Duty

“Open the gate, my boy,” said the rider who headed the hunting party. “I’m sorry, Sir,” answered the boy, “but my father sent me to say that you must not hunt on his grounds.”

“Do you know who I am?” demanded the man gruffly.

“No, Sir,” answered the boy.

“I am the Duke of Wellington.”

The boy took off his cap to the great man. But he did not open the gate. “The Duke of Wellington will not ask me to disobey my father’s orders,” he said quietly.

Slowly the man took off his hat, and smiled. “I honor the boy who is faithful to his duty,” said the great man, and with that his party rode away. (copied)

Webster defines “duty” thusly: “That which one is bound, by any natural, legal, or moral obligation, to pay, do or perform.”

Many would not like to think that we should render service to Christ as a matter of duty. We would like to feel, rather, that we would render service to our Lord as a matter of love. But duty is the right word. We are called servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ, as were James, Peter, John and Jude. The word “servant” means “bond-slave.” Bond-slaves are duty-bound. They render service out of duty.

Like it or not, as a believer you are duty-bound. Daniel Webster said, “A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity.  If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed or violated is still with us—for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us.”

So, as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is:

  1.  The Duty of undaunted service to Him and to His Church.  Each believer has received a gift (I Peter 4:10) that equips him or her for service. It may be the gift of teaching, of administration, of serving, of giving, of helps, prophecy, or exhortation (Rom. 12:6-8), but as a member of His Body, the Church, each follower of His has been equipped with a gift to be exercised in the building up of His Body. The exercise of those gifts may be daily, as in Ezra 3:4, where in worship the Israelites “offered daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required.”  Day after day, month after month, it was a repetitious duty. Then, too, it might have gotten to be monotonous—as is much of what we do in life. A laborer stands at a punch-press eight hours a day and may well battle  monotony with the job, but he has a family to support and mouths to feed and his work is his duty, and he does it therefore with thankfulness. Or, it may be an inglorious job to which you are called. Others may be on the front lines, where the action is, while you are just “staying by the stuff.” But when the battle is over and the spoils of victory are divided, the ones who faithfully discharged their duty by staying by the stuff will receive an equal reward with those who fought on the front lines. (I Sam. 30:24)
  • The Duty of undivided submission. The servant does not question the wisdom of the Master. “Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) “The servant is not greater than his Lord,” (John 13:16) and we are “in His house,” not over it. A great orchestra conductor was once asked what the most difficult position in the orchestra to fill was, to which he replied: “Second fiddle. Everyone wants to play first fiddle.” We are called to execute His commands and to follow His orders. Jesus to His disciples: “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). As a servant, our first duty is to obey His orders. Lord Nelson, the celebrated English naval general, said in his dying words, “I have done my duty.  Praise God for it.” At the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson raised the banner before his men, and the banner simply said, “Not glory, not victory, not honor, not country, but duty.”
  • The Duty of undying support. Our labor is that of supporting our Lord. We support His kingdom work through life, and we support it unto death. “The way of duty is often rugged, but it is always royal. It gives dignity to life from the moment we take our first step.” David said: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps. 84:10) “No servant can serve two masters,” Jesus said. We will give Him our undying loyalty and allegiance until death or we will forfeit the crown which He promised: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

The early-Church leader Polycarp was given the option of denying his Lord or going to the stake, to which he replied: “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He hath done me no wrong. How can I speak evil of my King who saved me?” He was faithful, loyal, dutiful—even unto death.

So, as we face the challenges of another new year, “remember the value of time, the necessity of perseverance, the pleasure of working, the worth of character, the dignity of simplicity, the power of kindness, the wisdom of saving, the virtue of patience, the beauty of cheerfulness, the influence of example, and the obligation of duty.” (copied)

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)

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