Joy vs. Duty
Hunter (our pastor) gave a great sermon at a sister church we visited. It was on Joy vs. Duty. His primary scripture was Heb. 12:1-2.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Christ did what he did because of the joy he had, not out of a sense of duty.
Hunter gave an example of a recent trip he took to Biloxi. He had preached in early December that parents should take the money that they were planning on spending on gifts and instead spend it on gas to drive down to the Katrina zone and help out where needed. While I don't think he was being entirely serious, he wasn't really kidding either. He said that God convicted him to put his money where his mouth was and so he drove down with a group from our church on the 26th and stayed a week. While he was there something happened that revealed to him that he was there out of a sense of duty.
They had inadvertently parked in a woman's yard while going to work on a family's house that had lost everything. She came out screaming about how they were parked in her yard and didn't they have respect for someone's property and on and on. She was just livid apparently. Hunter's response to this woman was "Don't you know why we're here? Don't you know what we sacrificed to be here to help people out?". In short, all about wanting to be recognized for fulfilling his duty. The man who's house they were working on tried to comfort her and she yelled at him, "Did you lose everything? Do you know what I'm going through?" His response, "Yes and that's why I want to help you.". Yet still he had joy and wanted to share that.
The second illustration he gave was the story of the Good Samaritan. To often, he said, it gets preached as a duty sermon. This godless Samaritan reached out to the man in the ditch, when's the last time you did the same. You need to figure out how to help others. It's your Christian duty to pick people up, dust them off, and help them be good like you.
Instead, it should be viewed as a sermon on Joy. You aren't the Samaritan, you're the man in the ditch. You've been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Jesus is the Samaritan who has come to rescue you and take you to a place where you can be healed and loved. That should bring you joy and out of that joy should pour a desire to do the same thing.
Both joy and duty can take you to the same place (helping others/serving God) but only joy can sustain you.Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Go and serve God and your neighbor, carrying with you the joy of your salvation.