Duty Bound or Love Bound?

My husband, Randall, and I have traveled in ministry together for over 47 years. I knew very early that my calling was to, “Stimulate one another toward love and helpful activities, not neglecting to meet together…giving mutual encouragement”(Hebrews 10:24-25) particularly with ministry wives. One of the greatest blessings for me is to spend time with women, listen, and share personal experiences with encouragement from the Word.

Because I’m energized by these wonderful ‘one on one’ ministry experiences I don’t mind all the travel we do. I don’t mind packing clothes and all that travel involves. Although there is a mental and physical adjustment every time we travel, sometimes a week at a time, I don’t mind it most of the time. However, there have been times when I chafe at one more trip, one more conference, or, when I was working outside the home, time in the office doing mundane administrative duties. This is usually because of tiredness; not protecting my equilibrium, as I put it.

I have found I can go through the motions out of obedience; because I know I’m supposed to, but not with joy. I am not, “serving the Lord with gladness” at these times (Psalm 100:2). This concerned me when I felt these emotions. I needed the Lord to show me why. One day, while relaxing in the tub (that’s when I have some of the best prayer times—please don’t picture the scene, HA!) a revelation came: I felt DUTY BOUND, NOT LOVE BOUND!

1 John 4:12 says, “No one has seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” God’s love has not been perfected in me yet. I need to focus on the Great Commandment principle again. We read in Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind. This is the great and chief commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

When His love is perfected in me and my focus is loving God and others then it produces a passion and compassion to my calling and there’s peace and freedom. I’m not thinking about, “What’s in it for me?” I don’t want to have the wrong motives. In their book, “Never Alone,”1 David and Teresa Ferguson, when analyzing their marriage, realized they were asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “What am I getting out of my marriage?” we should ask the question, “What does God want out of this?” We can ask ourselves the same question when it comes to ministry. Instead of asking, “What am I getting out of this ministry?” we need to ask, “What does God want out of this?”

I recently read a quote by Hannah More, “To love God, to serve Him because we love Him, is our highest happiness. Love makes all labor light. We serve with enthusiasm where we love with sincerity.”2 We can then go about ministry LOVE BOUND instead of DUTY BOUND.

Philippians 2:13-15 says, “For it is God who is at work within you, so as to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do it all without grumbling and objections, so that you may be blameless and innocent, God’s faultless children in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” When I chafe and grumble and feel DUTY BOUND instead of LOVE BOUND I ask the Lord to perfect His love in me, to help me walk in obedience, and to “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing…enter into His gates with thanksgiving…” (Psalm 100:2, 4). I suggest that we reverse the order of these verses and first “Come into His presence with thanksgiving.” We need to focus on God’s love, ask Him to perfect His love in us, and then we can, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” and be LOVE BOUND instead of DUTY BOUND!

1 David and Teresa Ferguson, Never Alone (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001) 9

2 2003; 365 Day Brighteners for a Woman’s Heart. (Siloam Springs: DaySprings Cards, Inc.) December 10

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