The word duty has almost become a 4 letter word in our society today. There are, no doubt, several reasons for this. It could be because the words respect and authority are also on the downturn. Perhaps it is due to the idea that obligation and burden are close synonyms of duty. One of the definitions of duty is a task that is expected, required or assigned. This doesn’t seem to sit well with many adults if they never learned to respect and obey their parents, elders and superiors. That is partly because many parents in our culture did not require, early and often, these qualities.
Anyone who has children can empathize with those who have the responsibility and burden of instilling this understanding of obligation, respect and duty in their children. Surely we should cut people some slack when they have strong-willed kids. This must have been especially tricky for Adam and Eve with Cain since they were the pioneers of parenthood.
God certainly gave His people both Israelites and Christians duties and burdens. Solomon summarized it all by saying, “…Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc 12:13)
At his trial before the Sanhedrin, Paul said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” (Acts 23:1) This promptly earned him a slap on the mouth (V 2) which shows that duty to God doesn’t always carry weight with hypocrites. Nevertheless, later Paul wrote Timothy to, “… discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Tim 4:5). In the letter to the Galatians he urged them to, “…carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal 6:2).
Jesus knew that some burdens (duties) are almost too heavy to carry, like the ones the experts of the law loaded down on the people (Lk 11:46). He also taught that Christians are to, “…deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). This would seem too difficult unless He also promised, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:30) Unfortunately, some Christians confuse hiatus with retirement and lay their burdens down soon after baptism. Jesus and the Apostles stressed the importance of the work we are to carry out. (Jo 9:4) (Eph 2:10) (Eph 4:12) (Col 3:23) (1 Th 5:12)