Luke 17:5–10 ‘Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ”We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”’(vv 9–10)

For some, duty sounds like a controlling and restrictive measure. In the UK, we live in a democratic society where freedom and individuality are championed, duty often rejected as freedom’s restraint. Yet, whilst everything in life is available to us, the question is, as always, does everything benefit us (1 Cor. 10:23)?

Duty is what is proper and what is obligated. I remember when my first wife, Katey, having lost her ability to walk owing to her MS, asked me to read the traditional wedding service. We had each declared to the other, in front of God and witnesses, ‘from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow’. This was our promise and Katey said to me, ‘I know you are committed to me in my sickness; but you must allow me to remain committed to you in your health.

In other words, keep serving God as best you can and let’s not be defined by my unwelcome disease.’ That day I learnt the meaning of duty. It is not a mindless obligation performed under duress, but a person’s freedom to choose to live and love without limits. God knows how we can best order our lives, and it is always living in obedience. We are simply fulfilling our side of an eternal, limitless love covenant with God. I always need encouragement and support, but my duty is clear.

Scripture to consider: Eccl. 12:9–14; Mal. 3:13–18; Rom. 16:17–27; Gal. 6:1–10.

An action to take: What does serving God feel like for you? Is it a painful obligation or an opportunity to live fully?

A prayer to make: ‘Lord, may I be intent on, and content with, doing my duty every day. Amen.’

Photo by IAEA Imagebank on wikimedia

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.