Nov 02

The Difference in Duty and Joy

Sunset Joy by Shirley B at

Why do you worship God?  Do you worship from a sense of duty?  We should feel a duty to worship God, after all Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Mat. 4:10).  It should eat away at our conscience when we fail at our obligation to worship, but shouldn’t there be more?

Consider the analogy of a married couple having an anniversary.  Suppose the man shows up with a bouquet of beautiful roses.  She greets him at the door and says, “Oh honey, what beautiful flowers, thank you for them!  You are so sweet!”  To which the man responds, “No problem, I am only doing my duty.”  The same couple goes out to a nice restaurant to celebrate their anniversary,  while eating their meal, the wife says, “It is so special to have this time together, I appreciate you taking me out on this date.”  The man in a rather straight face replies, “Well, it is our anniversary, so I felt it was my duty to take you out tonight.”  What wife is going to be happy with such expressions of duty?  Is she truly honored and shown affection by such deeds?  The wife wants to be cherished!  She wants to receive roses, not because he “has to” buy them, but because he wants to make her happy.  She wants him to enjoy her presence and relish in being on a date with her, rather than doing it out of duty.  She wants him to say, “It’s my joy!” rather than “It’s my duty!”

The heart of worship is about our love for God.  We worship because we love.  The greatest command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mat. 22:37).  Psalm 37:4 says to “Delight yourself in the Lord!”  Worship should be joyful!  We want to worship because we are grateful, joyful, humbled, and in love with God.  Yes, we need a mature level of duty that disciplines us to worship when our heart is cold and the distractions of life interfere, but it should not be our primary motivation.

God is honored when we worship out of love, joy, and gratefulness, rather than a ritualistic, cold dutiful heart.  The real question is how does God feel when He views your worship?  Does He see a dutiful heart, solely in worship because of obligation, or does He see the overflowing joy and affection of your heart bursting forth in praise and adoration.  There is a difference.  You know it and so does God!


Credit for much of the thoughts of the post come from p. 108-109 of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney



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1 comment

  1. This is good guidance.

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