Letters to My Friend -

Using Others to Avoid Your Duty

by Mary E. Stephens
Jan. 22, 2022

Dear Friend,

Are you using someone else as your enabler to avoid doing your biblical duty or what you know to be right? Do you seek relationships that provide you with support in doing your duty and following through in right things, or relationships that provide you with protection from those things that you don't want to do?

There are many ways that this can happen.

Parents sometimes avoid the duty of raising their children properly. A mother may delegate responsibility of caring for her younger children to her older children (commonly called "the buddy system"). Or she may put them in daycare. The excuse may be given that there are too many children for her to care for properly, or she is busy working. It is not "rewarding" to wipe noses and monitor cookie intake. It does not "inspire" her. Yet, as the mother, she is the one with the duty to love and care for the children if she is physically able. It is not the duty of her older children or the people at the daycare to raise her children, even if they are willing to do so. Even if her husband agrees with her. Fathers sometimes avoid their parental responsibilities by leaving it up the wife or keeping themselves so busy outside of the home that they are seldom there. Mothers are commanded to love their children (Titus 2:4). Fathers are commanded to raise them in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Excusing themselves on the basis that they have "too much to do" to obey these clear commands is simply failing to do their God-given duty. It doesn't matter if someone else does it or recommends it. It doesn't matter if some notable personality in Christendom recommends it. It is still avoidance.

It is sadly common for women to talk poorly about their husbands and to encourage other women to do so. We should avoid friendships and relationships like that because they tempt us to justify avoiding our biblical duty to reverence (Eph. 5:33) and submit to our own husbands (Eph. 5:22). They can tempt us to see unworthiness where it may not be and to make more out of small problems than they really are. I do not say this in regards to actual abusive behavior, which may need to be responded to differently. But, the grumpiness, the sarcasm, the generally nasty spirit that comes up in some women towards men in general is not edifying and it does not encourage us to do our biblical duty before God. Associating with such women in a friendly way may be enabling our own bad attitude. And may I just say? This applies to your reading material and movies you watch and the music you listen to. They can all enable us to sin.

Men sometimes do a similar thing with other men, allowing them to enable them to talk trash about their wives. It may be snarky remarks about their wives' attitudes or areas where she is lacking. It may be also to think impure thoughts towards other women. This is letting others enable them to fail in their duty of loving their own wives in the manner that Christ loves His church (Eph. 5:25).

Young people may allow themselves to be led along by evil companions to dishonor and rebel against their parents because they don't enjoy subduing youthful lusts and rather prefer to give those lusts free reign. (Eph. 6:1-3, 2 Tim. 2:22) It can be really subtle if the enablers are doing it under the guise of "helping" the young person escape what is alleged to be "unreasonable" rules, when in fact it is simple biblical living. (I am not speaking of the legalistic excesses of some, but of real Christians who are striving to live in both grace and righteousness.) True friends take responsibility for their own bad behavior and don't try to blame someone else for it.

A healthy, able bodied man may justify not working to support his family by claiming his wife can make more money and that she wants to work while he stays at home and cares for the kids or starts a home business. He really isn't "inspired" by doing his duty to provide for his own through work that he doesn't especially enjoy, so it gives him an excuse to cut and run and do something he imagines to be "rewarding."

The truth is that duty isn't always inspiring, rewarding or enjoyable, but it is still something we have to do. When it's a biblical command this is even more essential. Making excuses and justifying our failure to do our duty by pushing someone else forward as our enabler is not only extremely tacky, it's harmful to that relationship. It often isn't fair to the enabler and it's really despicable when we take advantage of their enabling.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful - not inspired, not fulfilled, not rewarded. Faithful. Faithful people do their duty before God, whether it pleases them or not and whether it pleases others or not. They don't use other people to justify escaping their duty.

Luke 17:6-10 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Jesus specifically told us how we are to view ourselves after doing the extra work and doing the thankless job. He said that we should consider ourselves unprofitable and that we have done that which was our duty to do. We shouldn't be looking for inspiration, approval, and feeling rewarded. Yes, there is a reward - a crown - for various things, but in the end we will cast them at Jesus' feet because it is only through Him that we are able to win them in the first place. That's the whole point - to return to God what He gave us through His grace, mercy, and kindness. And, He isn't going to be impressed because your children or spouse or friend or parent or favorite Bible teacher or some famous Christian said it was ok for you to avoid doing your duty. You can count on that.

I know it is hard to keep doing our duty sometimes. Our flesh so desperately wants approval, commendation, rewards, "inspiration," and frankly just plain fun. It's hard to just do the right thing over and over without anyone noticing for no other reason than that it is our duty and the right thing to do. But, in the economy of God you must. I must.

To do this we must also be steadfast in resisting those that want to "encourage" us to throw off our duties or responsibilities. It does not matter who it is or how sincere they are. The world, the flesh, and the devil are full of lies to tell us that we need to be free to do our "own thing," not bound by the duties and responsibilities that God expects from us. There is a common lie that we can only find true freedom and fulfillment in following our own dreams or heart. God tell us in Jeremiah 17:9-10, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Your bad choices to avoid your duty and chase inspiring things, rewarding things, and things that give satisfaction in this life may and likely will cause pain and damage to some of those around you, because they are basically selfish in their aim. It will likely cause damage to relationships, even your marriage, if you are using others as the justification and protection you need to "do your own thing" and avoid the duties you don't like. But, in the long run you will hurt yourself the most. You may pay the price in this life if God decides to step in to chasten you, and if you're His you will be chastened in some way (Heb. 12:5-11). Those who helped you follow your own will may receive their own chastening if they were involved of their own free will, but the fact that you were not alone in your sin will not get you off the hook. Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 

You will also suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ when your life's work goes up in smoke and you're left with nothing but ashes. You will be saved, "yet so as by fire." When you pursue earthly rewards and satisfaction, don't be surprised if you miss out on the heavenly rewards of "gold, silver, and precious stones". Better to do your duty and serve the Lord whether or not it's fun and inspiring. Better to do your duty before God than to follow vain people who encourage and help you avoid obedience to His word. Then you'll have something later to hand back to Him of the talents He entrusted to you.

Don't avoid doing your duty for selfish reasons, and especially don't use others to justify it. Instead of avoiding our duties, we should avoid those who willingly enable our bad choices, and we should avoid making other people our enablers against their will.

Because Jesus Loves You, Mary Stephens



background and graphics by Mary Stephens
vintage graphic: unknown source