Consider these two messages about responding to duty in life. Piper is referencing a soldier sacrificing his life to spare his friends, while Terkeurst is reflecting on a decision about whether to accept a long-term houseguest. The two situations are obviously not the same–accepting houseguests and experiencing brutal violence are not on the same plane–but in each, someone makes a decision based on a sense of duty, obligation, or loyalty.
The external action does not tell the decisive story. What was going on in the heart–toward God and man? The Bible cautions us that people can sacrifice their lives but not love people or God. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body up to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3). When the apostle Paul says this, he means there is a kind of “devotion to duty” that God does not honor. It gains nothing.
That may seem strange, since Jesus himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Yes, that is what great love does. It lays down its life. But whether that act is truly loving depends on what is going on in the heart, not just on the external action. (John Piper, Battling Unbelief, p. 11)
I’m bankrupt without love. Focus on that word bankrupt. Yes, the activity…could be loving. It could be in keeping with God’s ways. But doing this activity without an attitude of love would not reflect God’s love….
The ways of God insist on an attitude of love. Therefore, my ways should reflect an attitude of love. Not a ragged, rushed, and rash attitude due to overactivity. Is it loving to say no? Absolutely, if doing so protects and preserves a loving attitude for the part of the assignment that is mine.
(Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes, p. 56-57)
We are asked to make decisions every day.
When you say yes, what does your yes mean? What or who compels your yes?
When you say yes, to what are you saying no?
Which response calls up truth and courage in your heart?