bits from bob....

Woe Is Me If I Do Not....

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Rom. 1:14-16)

Recently I visited friends whom I've known for almost twenty years. We've stayed in touch, but we've not been close. As we sat down together and caught up on the happenings in our families, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous hurt and pain that surfaced. For long months, they had struggled with aging parents, unable to stay by themselves but fiercely independent in their resolve to avoid a nursing home. Long nights, jarring early morning phone calls, pressures from love, responsibility and duty all combined to tear away at two wonderful Christian people whom I remembered as much younger than their tired faces and graying hair now indicated.

It has happened again and again to countless people. John Gipson wrote of a friend who took care of an invalid wife for months, napping rather than sleeping. Such ordeals take their toll and tire the soul. With life changing, but not quickly enough, coping is difficult. Nonetheless, we stay by the side of those we deeply love despite the loss of vibrant personalities and charming manners. We go through the chores of life because we know no options. Others may talk of the caring way we continue to faithfully give, but those who have shared this tormenting trial can identify with one man's response. He politely brushed off all compliments concerning his care for his wife by saying, "I made that commitment to her forty years ago."

I'm afraid for our young people and future generations. I'm afraid because it appears that duty is a non-existent concept and commodity. Duty may be old-fashioned, but it's regal in its carriage. Robert E. Lee said, "Duty is the sublimest word in the language; you can never do more than your duty; you should never wish to do less." Duty can never be denied. Duty must not be replaced by selfish claims to rights.

Daniel Webster said, "A sense of duty pursues us ever." I think my friends discovered the meaning of duty. It is not popular, it is not easy, it is not inexpensive, but it became mine the day I was born. I am obligated. I am debtor. I can never repay hosts of people who have touched and changed my life. Duty focuses and shapes me. It compels me onward. I will do whatever is necessary--for parents, for children, for my wife, for my family because of duty. It is not a dirty word. I would have it no other way.

There's another sense of duty. Paul had it. Ezekiel had it. When Ezekiel's wife died, he recalls that he had been preaching to the people the very morning of the day she died. He commits himself to preaching the next morning also--right on schedule, precisely as commanded. Within 24 hours Ezekiel's life was changed, his home gone. But the next morning he is preaching. Do you know why? I suspect it has to do with duty.

I will continue to try to take the gospel to friends and neighbors out of love. Christ's love compels me, but there's another motivation also. I will continue to preach the gospel out of duty. Duty may be a little old-fashioned, but my Webster's still has it--right below Dutch, right above duumvir. My fondest desire is that my life will also have it. Will you join me?


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Last updated January 2, 2002.