Just Doing My Duty

Bible Book: Revelation  3 : 22
Subject: Duty; Church; America; Civic Duty
Series: Revelation

( This message covers REVELATION 2:1ff, 11, 16ff, 26ff; 3:1-6, however, verse 22 is listed as the theme verse to keep the messages in the correct order online - The Editor)


I had gotten one of those calls every parents sort of half-way expects, but no one wants to get. John’s fifth grade teacher at a very good Christian school was calling to tell me that my son had fallen from some playground equipment and his arm was hurt. She thought I should pick him up and take him to the doctor. I picked him up and took him to the emergency room where X-rays revealed a fracture in his left arm near the wrist. They put a cast on it and let me take him home.

When I took him back to school a day or two later the teacher asked me about it and I told her about the fracture and what the doctor had said. Then I made it a point to thank the teacher for helping my son. She replied, with no discernable concern for John, "It was my duty!"

I had felt such appreciation for that fifth grade teacher until she said that. She was just doing her duty! Can you imagine that? Teaching math was her duty. Giving assignments was her duty. Maintaining discipline was her duty. Watching the students at recess was her duty. Well, of course the welfare of her students at school was her duty, but I had been married to a teacher long enough to know the difference between duty and compassion. I knew the difference between just doing one’s duty and going beyond the call of duty.


A. Millions of Americans Do Not Do Their Duty as Citizens.

Millions of Americans do not practice good citizenship. I am not talking about those who take advantage of others, though there are plenty of those. The networks entertain America with coverage of sensational trials. I don’t know about you but I got a little tired of the Pederson trail the Martha Steward trial, and I was sick of the Kobe Bryant pre-trial publicity. America is becoming more and more dangerous, but right now I would like for us to focus our attention, not on violent crime, but on those who simply do not practice good citizenship - they do not do their duty as citizens.

B. Millions of Americans Do Not Even Vote.

A recent study reveals that half the Christians in America do not vote. Some apparently do not think their vote will count. They seem to have no faith in the democratic process. Some do not vote because they do not feel that they will win a particular vote. Every time I read an e-mail message from my son John I am reminded by the quote at the end that Edmund Burke was right: "All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." Hey, if he had to be a lawyer, that is the kind of attitude I want him to have! When my younger brother Mike came in and told our grandfather he was going to be a lawyer, Granddaddy said, "Son, couldn’t you find something worthwhile to do, like being a teacher?" I thank the Lord that some of the lawyers I know do their duty.

Evil prevails when Christians do not do their duty. Christians have sat by and let the ACLU, liberal politicians, and their cohorts in the media strip us of one freedom after another. In 1962 and 1963 the Supreme Court decided to deliver us from prayer and Bible reading in public schools. Then they legalized the murder of unborn babies with Roe vs. Wade - allowing the butchery of more than forty million unborn babies. The Ten Commandments are under attack today and the attacks are becoming more frequent and more confrontational every year.

Homosexual advocacy groups are exercising more influence on politicians, the media, and left-wing universities than all Christians put together. Our two Louisiana senators (Breaux and Landreau at the time) demonstrated just how it works. Their party leaders are beholden to homosexual dollars so they tell those who are up for election they can cast a vote that is popular in their district, but if they are not up for election for another two to four years they must vote to please party leaders, no matter what folks at home think about it. The dumb voters, they seem to think, will have forgotten by the next election. Sadly, most of them seem to do just that.

God commands good citizenship. He also commands good stewardship. Furthermore, He holds us accountable for doing our duty - for the attitude with which we approach our duty. He knows whether or not we are doing our duty, and He knows whether or not we are interested in doing more than our duty.


A. We Have an Obligation to God to Do Our Duty.

1. Micah is very clear about this.

He has told you men what is good

and what it is the Lord requires of you:

Only to act justly,

to love faithfulness,

and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6:8, HCSB)

2. God expects us to do our duty to God, family, and country.

James Garner, in movie, CASTAWAY COWBOY, said to a young boy, "Don’t ever expect praise for doing your job." Appreciation should be freely given for a job well done, but the one doing the work should never base his work on the praise of his boss. Everyone should do his duty, but Christians should never stop with his duty. Jesus taught that when he told the people of His day that if some Roman soldier compelled them to bear his load for one mile they should do that - and then in a spirit of cooperation and good will offer to bear the burden another mile. That would certainly give the soldier something to write home about!

Heroes in American history were men and women who were committed to doing their job. They did not think of themselves as heroes, and when asked they were often surprised that anyone would think of them as heroes. Sergeant Alvin York was the very epitome of humility after returning from World War I as the most decorated hero of that war. He was offered money, fame, job opportunities that would have been very tempting to most people. He looked at Cordell Hull and asked, "You mean they are doing that because of what I did over there?" When he was told that there were people who wanted to capitalize on what he had done he told them that he could not do that. He just wanted to go home, get married and start farming.

Sergeant York had killed and captured more Germans than anyone could imagine. Officers were amazed and when one officer tried to get him to explain what he had done he explained that his men were being cut down and he had to do something to save them. In other words, the officer concluded, you did all that, not to kill the enemy but to save the lives of your men? That was it - and American needs to rediscover heroes who stand for morality, courage, decency, and integrity today. I might add we have 18 - to 25 year old Americans doing just that in Iraq today.

Audie Murphy was the single most decorated hero of World War II - the most decorated hero in the history of America. Of course, if John Kerry had stayed in Viet Nam another three months he may have gotten so many medals someone would have had to help carry them. It is amazing that John Kerry has traded on what so many others do not even want to talk about. I never heard of Alvin York of Audie Murphy asking anyone for a medal, or bragging about their medals when they came home. At the end of the Second World War Audie Murphy still looked like an adolescent. Alvin York was a man of deep faith and genuine humility. They were both men who did what needed to be done when it needed to be done.

A true American hero is a man or a woman who does his or her duty. Today, Hollywood is creating heroes for America’s youth who couldn’t care less about duty. Teenagers who do not know James Madison, John Leland, or Obediah Holmes know those rappers who spew out filth, encourage immorality, violence against women, and even the murder of policemen.

B. God Expects Us to Fulfill Our Obligations to Him.

We have a duty to serve the Lord. Jesus is Savior and Lord. He does not apply for the position of Savior apart from His office as Lord. If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. Remember the passage from Micah (6:8):

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" (NKJV)

Just doing our duty for duty’s sake is not enough. The Bible says:

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Eccl. 9:10).

You can actually dishonor God while doing your duty. If duty requires the minimum, love for the Lord demands our best. You may meet your duty without compassion. One may actually use duty to avoid getting involved - as a matter of fact we may all have done that at some time or another. The priest and the Levite passed by on the other side rather than helping the man who had been attacked by robbers. Only the cursed Samaritan got involved with the victim. The priest and the Levite may well have used duty as an excuse not to get involved. Maybe they were on the way to the Temple to serve the Lord!

A number of years ago there was a TV spot that showed people doing a variety of jobs. When they finished they stopped and looked at their work. The announcer asked, "Would you be willing to sign your name to your work?" There is a lot of difference in the attitude, "I was just doing my duty," and the "That’s a job well done" attitude.

It is your duty to obey the laws of the land. When I was a young man working for the Quitman County, Mississippi ASCS to help pay for my education, I was surprised the first time I heard some farmer say, "I’ve raised ten chillun’ on this place and nary one of ‘em ever spent a night in jail." This statement was made with a sense of pride. To me, it was a disappointment. What have we said when we say that we have been just good enough to stay out of jail?

To the child of God, one’s duty is the beginning point. Those Americans who have made the greatest contributions are the ones who did not stop with the negative attitude of simply avoiding trouble. Nor did them stop with just doing their duty. They saw what needed to be done and did it.

Christians today are facing some major challenges. Enemies of the Cross are trying to drive Christians underground - or at least back inside the walls of the church and their homes. They are fanatically committed to making ours a secular society. That is why so many of them hate President Bush with such intensity. I have no problem with someone disagreeing with his policy on some issue, but I find it very disturbing when the Hollywood crowd joins the ACLU and the "reverend" Barry Lynn in spewing hatred for no reason they would dare share with us. They thought they had pushed God off the stage and now President Bush talks about him open - and no president since Abraham has spoken so often and so openly about his faith in Jesus Christ.

I recently discovered that I am not the only one who believes that. I heard someone, possible John Gibson, author of the book, AMERICA’S WAR AGAINST CHRISTMAS, say some along the same line. Secularists thought they had succeeded until George Bush began openly declaring his faith in Jesus Christ, prayer, and the Word of God. It was openly discussed on a Fox News program that the left’s hatred for the president’s "religion" may be a factor in the escalation suits against everyone and everything from Roy Moore to the Pledge of Allegiance, to nativity scenes. Now, someone is trying to force the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico to change its name and get rid of the three crosses in the official emblem best seen in the official signs.


A. Jesus Said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

1. Love for God will take you beyond duty.

2. Saints at Ephesus had lost their first love but continued to do their duty, (2:1ff).

B. Failure to Do Your Duty Proves You Do Not Love God, 1 John 2:3.

1. It bothers me when someone says, "I was just doing my duty."

2. It also bothers me more when someone does not do his duty.

C. Failure to Do Your Duty Comes With a High Price Tag, Rev. 3:1-6.

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with Me in white, because they are worthy. In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels. "Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 3:1-6, HCSB)

1. If you fail God you pay the price today.

2. Many will pay for eternity.

3. Your family will pay a great price.

D. Your Church Is Where It Is, in Part, Because Members have Failed in Your Duty to God.

1. There is a lack of joy in the church today.

2. There is a lack of power in the church today.

3. We worry about sin in the world when there is sin in the church.

4. We embrace counterfeit solutions for church problems and ministries.

5. There is a lot of abuse in churches in the name of outreach.

In some churches older members are being systematically pushed aside. They are told to pay their tithes, attend their service at an hour when their presence will cramp the style of the younger people. Those with a background in the Bible are being forced out of classes and those classes are being turned over to those who are weakest in Scripture and church experience. I talked with a friend who is going through that right now. In the most recent business meeting the pastor announced that he is going to bring charges against those who opposed what he is doing at the next business meeting. This man has taught for many years, as did his wife. He has retired as principal of a public high school and has just agreed to serve as principle of a well known private high school. These people are intelligent, well versed in the Word of God, faithful in every aspect of church life. The man is a deacon and both are - or were - teachers. Now they have been pushed aside. People are quoting Rick Warren and other popular writers as their authority for decisions and conduct with the same faith people used to quote Paul and John. Sadly, some preachers even seem to be paying more attention to these popular preachers than they are to Peter, James, or even Jesus.

E. Your Country is Where It Is Today Because You Have Failed in Your Duty to God.

1. This country was founded on Christian principles.

Historical revisionists vehemently deny that, but history bears it out. Fortunately, we still have the writings of the Founders, so we know what they were thinking. Most of the Signers of the Constitution were men of deep and genuine faith in the Lord. When you see a print of that well know painting of the Signers, look closely. All but two, David Barton tells us, were Christians.

2. We have lost the America we once knew.

America respected the faith of George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison - up until the middle of the Twentieth Century. Today, a large segment of America hates George W. Bush for his faith. Sadly, Christians do not appreciate the fact that President Bush has had more to say about God than any president in over a century, including the liberal Jimmy Carter. The Bible has an answer for us - read 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Sadly, much of the change has occurred during my lifetime. Just to mention one thing, when I was in school someone stood and read from the Bible at the beginning of each day. Prayer and Bible reading were common in our school. Students were permitted to leave school and walk down town to attend the morning revival services at the Methodist church or the Baptist church. When we returned a teacher might well ask us to tell her about the preacher’s message.

We are losing America today because we have failed God. I do not mean that lost people have failed God, the church has failed God. What would it take to bring America back to God? With fear and trembling, may I suggest that it may take persecution? That may be closer than you think. Check out the Ninth Circuit of Appeals, or as Roger Hedgecock says, the Ninth Circus. Someone reported that the most liberal judge is married to the head of the ACLU for the southern district of California.

F. God, in the Letters to the Seven Churches, Commands Us to Repent.

1. He commands us to remember.

Those believers could remember a time when the church was faithful to the Lord and to His word. They loved the Lord, they loved one another, and they were committed to morality, decency, and integrity. I cannot imagine a faithful church condoning immodest dress, activities that encourage lust or language that is profane and vile. We have it all today. Some today cannot remember a church that was totally committed to the Lord but those people in Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea could.

2. He commands us to repent.

Remembering should bring us under conviction of sin. Conviction should lead us to repent. Sadly, there is a movement in churches throughout American that promises blessings without repentance.

We often hear the cry that we need to get the Bible and prayer back into our schools. What we need today is to get the Bible and prayer back into the church. One Director of Missions for two counties in the Bible Belt told me he might as well stop carrying his Bible to church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. "No one is using it." This is not only in the Bible Belt, it is an association of Southern Baptist churches. Perhaps when we get the back into the church we will get it back into the home. I really believe that if we have a revival in the church and in the home there is no way they can keep it out of the schools.

3. Remembrance leads to repentance, which leads to revival.

"And My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land" (2 Chron 7:14, HCSB).

4. If you repent you will do your duty.

Jesus is the Head of the Church and the church is the body of Christ. Your mind is conscious of your body. You may not give it much thought when all the parts are healthy and performing their respective tasks. Pain draws your attention to whatever causes pain - and the pain is telling your brain that something needs attention. My feet have cried out for relief more times than I could ever recall. Some of you may have had a knee replacement, back surgery, an appendectomy, a tonsillectomy, or some other surgery. Some of us take medication to keep the body functioning as it should. I have had by-pass surgery and take medication twice a day so that my heart can function, not just as it should - as it must!

When there is a problem in the body of Christ, the Head knows about it. Repeatedly in the letters to the seven churches in revelation Jesus stresses that He knows what is right with His body, the church and what is wrong with it. "I know your works," He says. He knows how His body should function and He knows what to do about it when it does not function as it should.

If you are a member of the body of Christ there are certain things you should be doing. Paul stresses that the Holy Spirit gives special gifts to each believer at the point of his or her salvation. I have seen a few people who misinterpreted their gift. One seemed to think his gift was to tell everyone else what they should do. Another must have thought her gift was knowing what everyone else had done and why - and how it would benefit the church if everyone in the community knew her neighbor’s business. While we all have special gifts which the Lord will use to keep His body functioning as it should, there are certain duties God expects each one of us to perform. If you are a member of His body He expects you to:

1) Worship Him whenever your church meets for worship.

2) Give your tithes and offerings for the ministry of His church.

3) Pray for one another, for lost people, for our nation, our troops, missionaries.

4) Witness to lost people.

5) Serve whenever and wherever you are needed.

6) Love one another.

7) Be faithful to the Lord and to His church.

Jesus expects you to do your duty. However, if you are only concerned with doing your duty, there is something wrong in the body of Christ. If you have had a heart attack and your heart function is down around thirty percent you need medication to make keep it functioning. There may well be some people here today who have a spiritual heart condition and you need immediate attention. If you have never been saved, Jesus will give you a new heart. If you are a Christian and your heart is not functioning as it should, confess that to Him and receive His healing.


Vance Havner said, "America will improve when we have better Americans and the church will improve when we have better Christians." We will have a better America and a better church when God’s people do their duty - and when they do not stop with their duty. They do what needs to be done because of the love of God and because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to teach us, motivate us, and to empower us. Where do we start? Bible study, prayer, worship, witnessing, and ministry are all essential. I might add that the work of the Lord is never done, it is not for quitters, and it is not for those who seek personal glory.

Let me urge you to do your duty. But let me also urge you never to use duty as the ultimate standard. We must continually go beyond the call of duty if we are to glorify the Lord, honor His name, build His church, and call our nation back to Him. God expects you to do your duty, but if you are only doing your duty you are denying yourself a great blessing. Assurance of salvation may motivate you to do your duty, but you will never know the true joy of your salvation until you go beyond the call duty.