If you know me at all, you know I love to throw out a book quote that just fits the situation I’m in. My family has heard me quote A.A. Milne and Dr. Seuss way more than they’d like, I’m sure. And no matter what we’re discussing, the chances are I’ll throw in a quote and then smirk and say which book it’s from.
So, naturally, when I turned twenty, this quote came to mind:
I always used to skim over that latter part with a little mental shake of my head. But this time, I actually sat and thought about it.
It’s quite true that when you get to be about twenty, your character is pretty set. As Montgomery notes…
Later on, she adds:
And the Bible itself remarks: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Of course, there is always time to change. Twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy-five… it is never too late to begin changing your character to be more Christlike. That is the power of God. However, as I said earlier, it is true that by the time you’re twenty, you’ve gone a long way in building your character. Habits you make as a young person tend to stay.
So yes, character is bent in a certain direction already, and it’s pretty flawed.
But what about Aunt Jimsy’s philosophy? “Don’t worry over it, Anne. Do your duty by God and your neighbour and yourself, and have a good time.”
Don’t worry over it.
There’s a fine line in worrying and worrying. Being obsessed with yourself is not good. What is also not good is spiralling into depression by focussing on all your bad points and deciding you’re a horrible, worthless person. That is not a biblical way to live. God calls us beloved; therefore, we are loved. We are sinners, yes, but we have been cleansed by His grace; we are new creatures and we are His temple. Also, if God gave us life, He gave it for a reason and we should rejoice in that life and use it for His glory, not wish it away. The book of Job is a good example of this. (And I intend to do a post on it soon.)
So, while you want to be aware of your character’s flaws and work to fix them, you also don’t want to enslaved by them and filled with worry over your own failings. (Anxiety, by the way, is not a virtue.)
Do your duty by God and your neighbour and yourself.
Doing our duty by God is obeying His commandments. His commandments circle back to loving Him. And if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. It’s really quite simple. The whole Bible tells us God’s commandments; we have only to follow them.
Doing your duty by your neighbour is loving your neighbour. (Which, incidentally, is a commandment of God, and obeying it is loving God.) Love means doing what is best for your neighbour. Which means doing what is right.
But what about doing your duty by yourself?
Doing your duty by yourself is taking care of yourself. Feeding yourself properly; keeping your body in good shape physically; keeping your mind healthy, etc.
I have a secret for you: when you obey God’s law, you are taking care of yourself.
When you obey God’s law, your mind is happy and at rest. Your body is well cared for. You are physically and mentally as well as you can be. I am NOT saying that you won’t have any physical or mental struggles. What I am saying is that obeying God is in your best interest. If we obeyed all of His laws, we would not be consumed with anxiety (Philippians 4:6, Colossians 3:15), we would not be overweight (Galatians 5:22-24), we would sleep well (Psalm 127:2)… We would be truly joyful, and joy, as we all know, is good!
And now for the last one.
Have a good time.
I recently read the book of Ecclesiastes and I was struck with the message he has. I’ll probably do a post on that later on, too. But for now…
Be joyful! Rejoice in the life you have been gifted! Do what makes you happy! Live a good life! You only have one life and you are only young once. Make it a good time.
But how do you have a good life?
Ah, that’s where it comes together.
You have a good life when you walk in God’s ways and obey His commandments.
THAT is when you are truly filled with joy.
If we obey God, we won’t spend our days drowning in misery. We’ll spend our days being joyful.
Yes, we can do good things that make us happy. But true joy comes from doing what is right. No matter what, we can have a good time if we are doing right.
And, incidentally, God commands us to be joyful. And we bless our neighbours by being joyful.
You see how it all comes together?
And what are His commandments? To love Him, and to love our neighbours, and take care of ourselves, and to be joyful.
Let me tell you: doing your duty is the best way to have a good time.
Let our hearts be always cheerful;
Why should murm’ring enter there,
When our kind and loving Father
Makes us children of His care?
With His gentle hand to lead us,
Should the pow’rs of sin assail,
He has promised grace to help us;
Never can His promise fail.
When we turn aside from duty,
Comes the pain of doing wrong;
And a shadow, creeping o’er us,
Checks the rapture of our song.
Oh! the good are always happy,
And their path is ever bright;
Let us heed the blessed counsel,
Shun the wrong and love the right.
Always cheerful, always cheerful,
Sunshine all around we see;
Full of beauty is the path of duty,
Cheerful we may always be.
(Fanny J. Crosby)
May you always do your duty & be happy, friends. ❤