Friday, February 17, 2012

Duty, Responsibility, Obedience - Words still in the dictionary!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men" (Colossians 3:23).

Duty, responsibility, obedience: what onerous words! One person goes to war, another to the kitchen, another to his or her desk at the office and another to the classroom. Each is to work enthusiastically, dependably and honorably. We cannot do it all, much as some of us would like to do much more, but we can do our fragment of the whole work. We join the work of others who have gone before us and will come after us. Our duty is to do our part resolutely and satisfactorily. It is useless to fret over what we are unable to do, for we all have limitations. Another part is another's responsibility, and it is waiting for that person, just as our work waits for us.

Sometimes it seems impossible to get started on the day's work. Dwight L. Moody gives advice that might help: "Some say if only my fears and doubts will leave then I will get to work. But instead you should get to work and then your fears and doubts will leave." Samuel Johnson gives a sage suggestion, also: "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance." And Ruskin tells us: "Every noble life leaves its fiber interwoven forever in the work of the world."

"...A great door for effective work has opened..." (1 Corinthians 16:9). Each day is that door. We can forget about yesterday and its laziness and failure. "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). Being confident is the secret to the success of working for God and not for men. God knows about the perspiration and perseverance. We can place our trust in Him to know our strengths and weaknesses and how much we can do. Relatives and friends are not always so merciful!

The following is from the Pulpit Commentary, Colossians 3. The commentary uses words that we no longer consider useful or politically correct (obedience, servant [spiritual servanthood], master, etc.):

It is marked by:
1. Obedience. Engaged for given duties, do them. Refusal to do them, neglect in doing them, is immoral, irreligious. You cannot be a good Christian and a bad servant.
2. Thoroughness. Not “eye service.” This happy expression is probably the apostle’s coinage. It describes obedience that is superficial, inconstant, and hollow.
3. Simplicity of motive. “Singleness of heart.” Not having two purposes nor secondary aims.
4. Earnestness. “Do it heartily.” Whatsoever ye do, work at it. The lazy and lethargic are repulsive, the enthusiastic are noble.

The duties of a master are as clearly enforced as those of the servant. “The same light tempers various colours; so the same principle regulates various duties.”
There is claimed from the master:
1. Justice. That is, what the law demands, what is legally right and square. There is, however, much more.
2. Equity. “What is equal.” Equity is more than law, more than legal claim. It is a liberal interpretation of justice in common matters; a response to the intuition of what is right, even though no law defined it or enforced it. It was this teaching about equity that was really the insertion of the leaven that has destroyed slavery in Christendom. What is the touchstone of this equity? Surely this golden rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even the same to them likewise.”

The motives put before both masters and servants are two.
1. They both sustain a common relationship to Christ.
(1) All are his servants. Servants, “Ye serve the Lord Christ;” masters, “Ye also have a Master in heaven.”
(2) All work is done in his sight. Therefore do it “fearing God.”
(3) All may be done for his glory. “There is no respect of persons.”
2. Christ will rightly deal out retribution and reward. With Christ is “the reward of the inheritance.” From Christ men shall receive for “the wrong which they have done.”
Our conclusion is:
1. Cherish a Christian ambition to serve well.
2. Cherish a Christian ambition to rule well. ­ U. R.T.

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