A Devotion for 17 October 2019 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:1-13; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
‘DUTY’ is a word that is not mentioned in Holy Scripture, but is a quality of character that pervades that great Book from beginning to end. The observance of one’s duty divides the mediocre citizen from the great patriot. General Robert E. Lee counselled, “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.”
Duty is included in the first order of words in the motto (Duty, Honor, Country) of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The Cadet Prayer inculcates each of its counsels under the spirit of DUTY:
“O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural. Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretence ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all. Amen”
I would have preferred that the motto include, as well, the greater Sovereign to whom our duty is owed – God Almighty. But doing our duty should be always directed toward the glorification of our Maker whether in church worship, or daily and mundane labors. Here is another old quote with bearing on the subject of DUTY:
“A minister once came softly behind a religious man of his own acquaintance, who was busily employed in tanning a hide, and gave him a light tap on his shoulder. The man started, looked behind, and blushingly stammered, “Sir, I am ashamed that you should find me thus.” The minister replied,”Let Christ, when He cometh, find me so doing.” “What,” said the man, “doing thus?” “Yes,” said the minister, “faithfully performing the duties of my calling.”—Whitecross
The allusions to Godly duty is proferred in almost every chapter of the Bible. The heart of almost every Parable of our Lord centers on Duty, or the failure thereof. An example of this contrast of the dutiful man and the slothful wretch is presented in sharp strokes in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
We see in this parable several lessons on DUTY. Duty, first of all, is based upon one’s knowledge of exactly what his duties are. The lawyer, though quite informed of Scripture, had not the slightest idea of what the Scriptures taught in Spirit and in Truth. The lawyer knew the right words, but not the compelling spirit of those words. “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Simple truth, isn’t it; but impossible to obey without that profound force of LOVE.
Our Lord relates the parable of the man who was robbed, beaten and bruised by the side of a deserted road. He was seriously injured and left for dead. That is what Satan does with his victims. Those whom we would presume to be most duty-bound to help the man saw him lying there and passed by on the other side. The two religious workers, a priest and a Levite, had no compassion or love to enforce their sure knowledge of duty. They were going DOWN to Jericho, both physically and spiritually.
Along comes a Samaritan (going UP to Jerusalem), a race hated by the hypocritical Jews. He sees the man with his eyes. He OBSERVED the man and calculated his plight and need. He felt duty-bound to GO to the man. Like Christ always did, the Samaritan had compassion on the man. He did not go a certain distance in fulfilling his duty to a fellow human being, but went all the way, sharing his expensive oils and ointments in treating the hurt stranger. He invested his physical energy, His time, his wealth, his compassion, his speech, and his future obligations in treating this stranger by the wayside.
The contrast in sense of duty between the lowly Samaritan and the high-falutin priest and Levite is appalling. Salvation is a work of Grace freely offered by God in His sovereign wisdom. But evidence of that grace in our lives is the way in which we perform our duties out of love and respect. The Good Samaritan was not any closer to God AFTER he helped the stranger than he was before. He helped the stranger BECAUSE his heart was closer to God from the start. He did his duty out of love. The two religious skirted their duty out of indifference and evasion.
The lesson in Duty of this Parable is thus revealed by the question of the lawyer, defined by the Lord, defied by the priest and Levite, and performed by the Good Samaritan who is a typical of our Lord Jesus Christ.
DUTY, HONOR, GOD, AND COUNTRY. Let’s put God at the center of all our obligations. Without God, there is no duty, no honor, and no country.