Love, the Backbone of Duty

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

The women I admire most give of themselves cheerfully, performing their daily duties with grace and love.

My friend, Natalie, radiates both joy and peace. She meets the daily stressors of life as a missionary and mother with unflappability and laughter. She inspires me not to sweat the small stuff.

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The first word that comes to mind when I think of my mother-in-law, Sharon, is generosity. She gives unstintingly of her time, her talents, and her home. She has a will to work, usually behind the scenes, and she labors quietly at thankless tasks without complaining. Through the years, she and I have had some of our best conversations while working together.

My mother, Michele, has a gift for seeking out small ministries, perhaps forgotten by others, yet needful. She writes encouraging letters. She visits friends in poor health. She engages her grandchildren in conversations meant to draw them out, and to draw them closer to the Lord. She steps in to take care of messes, both literal and figurative – and she never seems to question whether someone else (for once!) might clean up the situation.


In Love Adds a Little Chocolate (linked here), Linda Andersen beautifully describes doing one’s duty with love.

Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to enclose a little love note inside…. Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but loves tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teenagers!)…. Duty gets offended quickly if it isn’t appreciated, but love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it. Obligation can pour a little glass of milk, but quite often, love adds a little chocolate.


A woman in Scripture who willingly performed her duty, time after time, was Ruth. After her husband died, she refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi (whose husband had also died), even when Naomi told her to return to her own people.

And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. – Ruth 1:15-17

Ruth labored in the fields of her new homeland, gleaning food for her and Naomi. She submitted to the customs of a strange country, agreeing to marry a virtual stranger.

And she seemed to do it all without a single, “Why me?!?”

God took note of Ruth’s willing self-sacrifice. She was destined to become the many times great-grandmother of the Messiah.

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On days when it’s difficult for me to do my duty cheerfully, I think about these women, and I carry on with a lighter, more loving heart.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

What – or who – inspires you to do your duty with love? I appreciate your comments.


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12 thoughts on “Love, the Backbone of Duty”

  1. Jesus makes me want to be the child that God wants me to be. Jesus is a great example of a perfect child. Sadly, I don’t come close but gladly God loves me anyway. There have been quite a few people who seem like pure saints 🙂 My granny, and my doctor are 2 of those people. I never heard my Granny say one bad word about anyone. She always had the patience of Job. There was never a problem or situation she couldn’t fix. She was generous and gave lots of love. She did all that with a smile, and a gentle voice. My whole life I said if I could just be like her 🙂 My Doctor is the same way. Never a bad word, always encouraging, always a smile, always prayed with and for me at each visit. He was dealt some pretty crappy deals personally, death of a child whose mother “couldn’t deal with the childs condition” and yet he stayed with her until his son left this earth. Still taking care of her even after because he is just that kind of guy.

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  2. Something I learned early on about parenthood: the kids watch you, pick up ideas and ideals and attitudes from you that you may not even realize you’re giving them. But it happens. So I knew I had to be the best father, and now the best grandfather, that with God’s help I was capable of being. My work as an ordained minister adds another dimension: I must lead by example. In all of this, it begins and ends with love. — Mike

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