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Love Outshines Duty

With my hand on one hip, I recall waiting to set the record straight with my spouse.

A few years ago, I remember making this huge feast for my family. I stayed up throughout the night making sure everything was absolutely perfect.

The meats were tender and cooked to perfection. The vegetables that were steamed were just the right tenderness, the other vegetables had the right balance of seasoning and spices.

My husband spoke and said, I feel the love in this. You put the love in this meal baby.

A beautiful compliment yet I translated his statement to: You do not put love into your daily cooking for our family.

I remember waiting to set the record straight.  What exactly does that mean?

Perceiving I had somehow gotten offended. His reply was firm yet dressed as a peaceful tone that flowed with wisdom, I just appreciate the effort you put into this meal baby.

I was ready to reply with something petty. Offense tends to pushes us to demonstrate petty and childish behaviors because it is sinful. Unwarranted behavior. The Holy Spirit whispered: Stop! I had to recognize my husband answer was soft and turned away wrath.

Proverbs 15: 4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” KJV  Proverbs 15: Kind words are like a life-giving tree, but lying words will crush your spirit.

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As I became more calm, I asked with sincere earnest care. What do you mean? He said during the hustle and bustle of life things tend to fall off or lack attention.  Between work, trying to get chores done, and all the things we are faced with daily, sometimes we do things out of duty.

He used an example of how earlier in the week I had fried pork chops, cooked Mac and Cheese, and vegetables. I could not help but to shyly blush. I knew exactly how that meal turned out.

He said it was ok yet one side of the pork chops were overly done, the veggies were like I just threw salt and pepper on them, and the mac and cheese was burnt on the bottom. He said he understood because I had a tight timeline from coming home from work, getting the kids to do their homework, off to lacrosse practice, then come home and make sure homework assignments weren’t being overlooked, making sure kids got cleaned up and the list goes on. He would get home late because he was working mandatory overtime.

He recognized that although my love for our family is unquestionable, there was more of a presence of duty.

I had to admit, he was exactly right. I was just making sure things were done. Like a checklist.

I found myself reflecting on such a driving force within me to stay up throughout the night and the early morning hours with intentional thoughts of my husband and children enjoying every morsel of food they would eat as I prepared a huge feast. No rhyme or reason – just flowed from my heart.

I am not degrading the noble act of duty. Duty preserves the presentation of us being of noble character. Duty is laced with the idea of being responsible. It even spares us from not fulfilling our “obligation” and caters to our mind and even those outside looking in that we are “doing what we are supposed to do.”

Sometimes duty is simply going through the motions, getting the things we know as responsible adults done. Sometimes duty can be viewed as fulfilling our moral obligations and although that maybe honorable and satisfy moral laws what about the heart and attitude of the matter.

When my husband said you put some love in it, he was simply acknowledging that everything I had prepared had some intention behind it and cost me something. It was sacrificial to its core.

This exchange made me ponder in my heart about love vs. duty.

It was Martha who complained about Mary yet duty can make you feel obligated and rigid because one carries the weight of the law while love allows you to be more fluid because one tends to carry the gift of grace.

Even in my original readiness to pounce on my husband’s words showed my unwillingness to demonstrate grace because I was working out the weight of obligation and fulfilling what was morally correct (law).

My heart was such at ease when I had poured love into my meal preparation. I went above and beyond making sure all was amazing and would give their palettes a beautiful experience. That is what love does. It goes above and beyond and it wants us to experience the best life.

Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly.

John 10:10

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
The expression of love that Christ demonstrated on the cross was not a sense of duty and obligation yet the amazing grace of love.
We are commanded to Love our neighbor:  Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!” Message Bible
Giving us the ability to extend grace to one another.
So as I cooked a Sunday Brunch today with such intent for a family gathering for a good time, no offense was taken  about feeling the love in it!


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