“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Sometimes doing our duty seems to be a sort of boring burden. The very word, “duty” brings to mind the sort of chores that nobody is anxious to undertake. Sometimes we try to make fulfilling our duty to God harder than it needs to be. We worry and fret and wonder if we’ve made the right decision. Sometimes we want to have a set of one-fits-all, easy to follow rules so we know exactly where we stand. That doesn’t work because God relates to each of us individually. He wants every Christian to do the best he or she can with the specific talents and abilities we’ve been given.
I came across this quote from George MacDonald, a Scottish author and minister, which has helped me. Maybe it will help you, too.
“‘What is my next duty? What is the thing that lies nearest to me?’ ‘That belongs to your every-day history. No one can answer that question but yourself. Your next duty is just to determine what your next duty is. Is there nothing you neglect? Is there nothing you know you ought not to do? You would know your duty, if you thought in earnest about it, and were not ambitious of great things.’ ‘Ah, then,’ responded she, ‘I suppose it is something very commonplace, which will make life more dreary than ever. That cannot help me. ‘ ‘It will, if it be as dreary as reading the newspapers to an old deaf aunt. It will soon lead you to something more. Your duty will begin to comfort you at once, but will at length open the unknown fountain of life in your heart.”
Duty doesn’t have to be drudgery. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be big. If we do the duty that is in front of us, God will teach us and lead us on to all that he intends to make of our lives, and that will be downright exciting! Just walk with Him, day by day. It will be enough.
Why do you pray? Is it to get what you want? Change something that makes you unhappy? Find a way out of a desperate situation? It’s okay. We all pray like this, sometimes, and God wants us to pour out our innermost thoughts, desires and fears to Him. It’s a beginning. However, the motivating factor behind our prayer life should be this: to know His will and obey Him. I found this quote that expresses true prayer well:
“That prayer which does not succeed in moderating our wish, in changing the passionate desire into still submission, the anxious, tumultuous expectation into silent surrender, is no true prayer and proves that that we have not the spirit of true prayer. That life is most holy in which there is least of petition and desire, and most of waiting upon God; that in which petition most often passes into thanksgiving. Pray till prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God’s will. The Divine wisdom has given us prayer, not as a means whereby to obtain the good things of earth, but as a means whereby we learn to do without them; not as a means whereby we escape evil, but as a means whereby we become strong to meet it.” F.W. Robertson
This is how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was an anguished, but genuine prayer; a prayer that was all about the Father and His plan.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Can you follow His lead and pray to be led into God’s will, not your own? It’s a prayer that will never fail.
“Therefore, let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:13
Did you ever stop to think about the fact that each of us give a daily witness in the small ways we behave toward one another and toward our circumstances? Saint Francis of Assisi supposedly said, “Preach the gospel daily, if necessary use words.” We are all preaching something, whether we know it or not. I came across this quote by Frances Ridley Havergal, an English religious poet and hymnist, in my devotional reading this week. I need to read this and take it to heart every morning. We are constantly influencing others, and I want my influence to be positive.
“A vexation arises, and our expressions of impatience hinder others from taking it patiently. Disappointment, ailment, or even weather depresses us; and our look or tone of expression hinders others from maintaining a cheerful and thankful spirit. We say an unkind thing, and another is hindered in learning the holy lesson of charity that thinketh no evil. We say a provoking thing, and our sister or brother is hindered in that day’s effort to be meek. How sadly, too, we may hinder without word or act! For wrong feeling is more infectious than wrong doing; especially the various phases of ill temper–gloominess, touchiness, discontent, irritability,–do we not know how catching these are?”
This is another quote from my daily devotional. The author is E.B. Pusey, an English, Anglican theologian. I seem to like his take on the Christian life, because I noticed I’ve selected his quotes before. Patience is a quality that I find elusive, and I need to cultivate patience, and pray for patience. Maybe you do, too.
“We have need of patience with ourselves and with others; with those below, and those above us, and with our own equals; with those who love us and those who love us not; for the greatest things and for the least; against sudden inroads of trouble; and under our daily burdens; disappointments as to the weather, or the breaking of the hear; in the weariness of the body, or the wearing of the soul; in our own failure of duty, or others’ failure toward us; in every-day wants, or in the aching of sickness or the decay of age; in disappointment, bereavement, losses, injuries, reproaches; in heaviness of heart; or its sickness amid delayed hopes. In all these things, from childhoods’ little troubles to the martyr’s sufferings, patience is the grace of God, whereby we endure evil for the love of God.”
If we expect our faith to comfort us in times of trial, it must become our habit. We can’t just pull it out like an umbrella when it rains. I found this quote in my morning devotional. It was written by H.E. Manning, who was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic church.
“Out of obedience and devotion arises an habitual faith, which makes Him, though unseen, a part of our life. He will guide us in a sure path, thought it be a rough one: though shadows hand upon it, yet He will be with us. He will bring us home at last. Through much trial it may be, and weariness, in much pain and fainting of heart, in much sadness and loneliness, in griefs that the world never knows, and under burdens that the nearest never suspect. Yet He will suffice for all. By His eye or by His voice He will guide us, if we be docile and gentle; by His staff and by His rod if we wander or are willful: any how, and by all means, He will bring us to His rest.”