The Dignity of Duty

If I really applied myself, I could perhaps find a way to find some excitement in the Bible's references to duty, but that seems less than genuine somehow. After all, the word is duty, and to attempt to make it exciting is to use a temporary polish and make something pretty that isn't really supposed to be. When God's Word mentions duty, the reference is full of mundane obligation. A man has a job to do, he knows it, and he doesn't need to be reminded. The job is probably menial and rote, as are the duties that we have been given. If we polish up the concept and serve it for dessert–if we call it by another name–we are cajoling ourselves into doing what must be done regardless of its menial nature, which remains. Worse, though, we diminish its value.

Inherently, duty is a word that needs no polishing because its value lies in its strength. There is a thread of iron in a duty that is done every day, and there are two threads of iron in a duty that is done without resistance. The man who can do his duty when it is ugly or unseen is a man who is fulfilling his purpose. The man who can do so without complaint is master of the proud savagery that lies within himself.

Without duty, a man has no purpose, for leisure and refreshment do not endow him with significance as will a duty accomplished. Why counterfeit its significance by replacing it with a more palatable word? Certainly, let every man do his duty. Moreover, let him enjoy the dignity that lies in doing it with a resolved and satisfied mind.

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