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Luke 17.1 through 10 It's Our Duty

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Sunday, October 7th, 2007

“It’s Our Duty!”

Luke 17: 1 – 10  (focus on v.10)

When I’m going about the task of selecting the Scripture reading that will be the text for a sermon, I read each section.  I read the OT reading, the Epistle, and the Gospel.  I read and pray about each passage a few times and let the Spirit lead me to which periscope I will write the sermon on.  For this Sunday my wife, Barbie, had volunteered to do the children’s message.  She wanted to know what I would be preaching on right when she found out she was doing it.  I had read the texts and preliminarily decided on the Gospel lesson. Now, mind you, my wife likes to plan and prepare ahead of time but this was weeks before this sermon.  I had another sermon, a devotion, and 2 confirmation classes to prepare for…all before this sermon. 

Her pestering (I mean her persistence) won out.  I read the passages for this Sunday to Barbie.  I told her the first lesson was from Habakkuk.  We both thought…not this time. Barbie listened as I read the Epistle.  “Oh, oh, oh (like on Welcome Back Carter)!  Use the Epistle lesson.  It’s got a verse on the Spirit flaming the fire.  I could get candles….”  I said, “Well, I didn’t think I would use that one this week. I was thinking I’ll preach on the Gospel.”  She wasn’t exactly thrilled.  She had already thought of where to get the candles and everything!

Finally, she said, “Okay, the Gospel reading is broken down into three main categories.  Sin, Faith and Duty.  Which one are you going to use?”  Again, she got a little excited and said, “If you do Sin we could do the children’s message with counting hash marks for sins.  If you do faith, I could get a mustard seed…”

Well I said, “I think I’m going to preach on duty.”

“Duty?  Honey, you’re going to preach on duty?  Why do you always pick the hard ones?  We humans don’t like to be told to do our duty.”

You know, I think she’s right.  We don’t like to be told it’s our duty.  I know I don’t.  However I feel led to talk about doing our duty today (and not just because my wife didn’t want to).

Most of the time we do things because we have to.

We like to believe that we do things out of the goodness of our hearts.  We imagine ourselves to be giving and altruistic.  If we’re honest with ourselves, most of the time we do things because we have to.  Do you really like doing the laundry?  Do you have a passion for your job…every day?  How about mowing the lawn, servicing your car, doing your taxes?  Most of those things are “have tos”.  We do them because, if we don’t, we will have nothing clean to wear, we won’t have money to pay our bills and take care of our family.  If we don’t do our taxes we could get audited or fined or even go to jail.  Our motives are less then philanthropic.

I never thought I would arrange to get up at 6AM every weekday morning.  Yep, almost every weekday morning I get up at 6AM.  I don’t go to work at that time.  I get up to take my lovely daughter to school.  Because she has the great opportunity to go to St Charles High school I have to get her to school a little after 7Am for her first early class.  I know some of you are chauffeurs for your kids too.  You can relate.  I’m sure that some mornings you’re like me and you wish you didn’t have to drive your sweet little offspring to school.  But we do. We love them so we have to.  It’s our duty as moms and dads. 

You know though, because it takes a good 30 minutes to get to the high school, I get a lot of time with my daughter to talk.  We do devotions together, or talk about what is going on in her life.  It has given us time to build up our relationship.  Even though it’s my duty we’ve grown closer.  My daughter is blessed and I’m blessed.

Our duties get into our head, our body, then our heart.

We talk to our girls about working hard to do something well.  It’s the blessing of duty.  First you do something because you believe you have to.  Like making your bed.  In your head, you say I have to make my bed or I will get in trouble with Dad.  As they physically do the chore, it becomes a habit of body.  The experts say it takes about 14 days to make a habit.  You do something enough times and it just starts coming naturally, like driving a car, riding a bike, or making a bed.  Then something happens where you can appreciate the value of the chore or duty.  You see, Our duties get into our head, our body, then our heart.

Why do we do our duty?...  Sometimes we can see our work has value.   My girls have discovered it’s “kinda nice” that their room looks neat and organized because they make their bed everyday.  I don’t need to tell them to do it any more.  It just comes naturally now.  And if it isn’t made is bothers them!

I think God blesses us with duty.  God said, “Honor the Sabbath day and keep it Holy.” And in Hebrews 10 He warns us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” We don’t always want to get up on a Sunday and go to worship.  Maybe you came to church this morning because you had to.  I did.  (ha ha) 

God blesses us when we do our duty.

I’m sure a lot of you have experienced that after you make it a priority and just plan on coming every Sunday you just naturally do it.  You don’t even think twice about it.  You decide to do it (in your head) and you come enough (move your body) and make it a habit…and then it gets into your heart.  You come to find that you are blessed by being here.  You find that God blesses us when we do our duty. You receive God’s gift in His Word and sacraments.  You receive forgiveness and absolution.  You commune and fellowship with your brothers and sisters.  You worship Him and grow closer to the Creator who made you and loves you.  We can leave this place feeling forgiven, refreshed and renewed.  We do it because we “have to”, it’s our duty, but we end up richly blessed.

This blessing is a free gift.

We know that God doesn’t give us salvation because of what we do.  That is His free gift and He did all the saving.  He doesn’t withhold His love and forgiveness if we don’t always do our duty or we don’t appreciate its value in our hearts.  His blessing is a free gift, he tells us, “Yet while we were still sinners He died for us.”  It’s not about doing our duty to earn salvation, but growing in our faith, and closer to Him, through “duty.”

He gives us all good things- family, homes, comfort, salvation, etc because of His love for us and not because of what we do or don’t do. 

In doing our duty, what God commands us to do in His Word, we not only get the benefit of getting the eventual “right heart attitude” but we also get to honor God by serving others.  We can bless our brothers and sisters and we can give this dying world a glimpse into His Kingdom. 

Let’s look at the example given in our children’s message. Can you imagine what our military would be like if every soldier did his or her own thing?  If each one decided what orders they would follow or wouldn’t if they didn’t feel like it?  It would be chaos!  We would not have the best military force in the world if we didn’t have men and women who weren’t willing to do their duty and serve…Giving up comfort and sacrificing so that others can live in safety. 

As Christ’s followers we are called to duty too.  God wants us to obey His commands in His Word…He also gives us the love and blessing we get through serving and that is His gift through duty.  Now may the peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

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