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What Is Our Duty?

When one contemplates the Bible and the duty of man before God, perhaps the most well-known passage recalled is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13. This verse gives us the conclusion reached at the end of this volume, provided (as is all scripture) by the Holy Spirit. In this case it was provided to Solomon, son of David and king of Israel. The passage reads: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.    It is likely that when one reads this passage or hears it read they fail to remember how this book begins.   There the Spirit had Solomon point out that all is vanity. The world continues on and the things put in place at the creation and ordered by the Word of God Almighty continue on.   The only things that seem to really change are the generations which come and go.  

It is interesting that throughout this marvelous book the word “vanity” is used 33 times in the King James Version.      It then stands to reason that the conclusion to this book (chapter 12: vs 13) tells us the only thing that is not vanity, even after all that which constitutes life is examined, is to do as God would have us do.  It is in fact man’s duty to fear God and keep His commandments.

Duty is defined as that which is an obligatory task. In other words, that which is our duty is that which we are obliged to do or are required to do. Our “obligation” to God is to keep His Commandments.   Then, there are those that want to stress that this word duty is italicized in the Bible in this passage and that it was inserted by the translators.    Little do they realize that to read the passage without the italicized word changes the passage not at all.   It is as if to stress this point, those who do so try to minimize their obligation to God.   Let’s examine this passage without this italicized word and see if it changes anything. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man. (Yes, the word “is” also is italicized in the passage, but most fail to focus on that.)       But still, the removal of the word “duty” does nothing to change the meaning of the verse. The obligation of man; the “whole” of man is to fear God and to keep His Commandments. Without doing that, all is vanity.

We are also told in the New Testament in 1John 5:3 that to do the things God commanded is to love God and that His commandments are not grievous. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.   Why is it then that some of God’s people seem to have difficulty with some of the commandments of God?    Do we not realize that when we made the commitment to God, and responded in obedience that we committed ourselves to be the servants of God?   In Romans 6:16 the Holy Spirit had Paul remind the Roman brethren of this fact. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?   Then in vss 17-18 thankfulness was expressed for their obedience and deliverance. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 

It is wrong to serve the Lord “only” out of a sense of duty.   To do so would place one into the category of those Jesus identified in Luke 17:10 and would indeed make one unprofitable. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. As we go through life, let us not look at our service to God as duty only. We are told by Jesus in Matt 25:30 what the fate of an unprofitable servant is. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The 14th verse of Ecclesiastes 12 tells us why the conclusion was revealed and when this will take place.   For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Let us be diligent to show our love for God by doing His commandments. In doing that which God has commanded out of love we can indeed be profitable servants and look forward to eternity with God.

                                                                             Dennis S - Mooresville


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