Comparing love and duty in Christian life

Published 4:10 pm Saturday, February 11, 2017

Love and duty are the two opposite ends of the Christian spectrum of life. Those who see the Christian life as a duty are always looking for some list of “do’s and dont’s” by which to live. At the other end of the equation is a focus on being faithful and loving which can lead to an emotionalism that borders on the metaphysical devoid of any good deeds or actions.

The Book of James found a common ground by explaining that “faith without works is dead, being alone.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians church that no kind of good works can replace the power and life changing work of divine love in the heart and life of the believer.

Our challenge today in the Christian church is to allow the power of Christian love to become the motivation behind the good deeds and life style we live.

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The “duty principle” goes back to the Law of Moses. He taught that if the people would keep all the law they would “live.” Jesus made it clear that if we really “loved him we would keep His commandments.” In doing so, he made Christian love the foundation and motivation for all Christian behavior, attitudes and actions.

Have you noticed that people who serve God out of duty usually must have everything prescribed for them? They need all the details to make sure that they get it done right. But, when we are motivated by divine love, we work with a holy instinct.  Compassion is the catalyst in our daily lives.  These individuals don’t settle for doing what is good on a list, but rather find ways to create goodness.

People who live life as a duty seldom enjoy the “overflowing life” promised in John 10:10. They are satisfied to carry out prescribed duties in the church, at work, or even at home. When Christian love is evident in our lives we tend to go the extra mile.  Our lives overflow with joy. We have found that is much better to “give to others than to merely receive.” It’s like some sales associates. Some just want to get by with basic responsibilities, while others enjoy helping people and interacting with those who come into their place of business.

Some individuals who see the Christian life as a duty rather than an experience motivated by love often give up on the Christian life. They struggle with trying to keep up with all the requirements.  They are so used to measuring holy living by keeping rules, they just give up. When love is the ruling factor in our life, we realize and understand that we are “saved by faith” and not by “works.” We enjoy the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and live every day to please him and reflect an image of His life in all that we do.

There are many former Christians who have been crippled by expectations that were never meant to be.  Ephesians 2:8-9 make it clear, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.

The Christian life is all about a relationship with Jesus that changes us forever. When an explosion of Christian Love consumes us, we have one desire, and that is to allow the Holy Spirit to live through us making us an example of what God always wanted for His people.

As 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us, “love is the greatest.” Paul opens the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians by challenging his readers to “follow the way of love.” If you have simply been trying to serve the Lord out of “duty,” I encourage you to discover the “more excellent way.” It will make your life “simply beautiful.”