Obligation: What is it good for?

I keep hearing people ask me if I practice portions of my faith out of obligation. Of course I do. Then they make it sound like practicing my faith, or doing anything in life, as an obligation is negative.


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Our life is filled with burdens we are meant to shoulder. Work, family, faith, and more all require us to make sacrifices of resources, time, old lifestyles, and so on.

A personal example is my current family. I was a bachelor of five years. A lot of money was spent on entertainment and frivolities. That came screeching to a halt when I supported my wife and her (now our) two children. One entered private school for kindergarten, which greatly expanded that burden.

Video games are difficult to buy, I can’t eat out once a week, lamb is off the menu (both financially and because of my wife’s eating habits), my apartment is a mess, and items go missing for seemingly no reason.

But I took on the obligation of supporting these three (now four) individuals. My wife and I agreed she would be an at home mom, and so she agreed to take on the burden of the home. There is no begrudging the decision, but I’m also not an idiot in my optimism.

My family and the burden of supporting them leads to a great deal of strife, and significantly reduces my wind down time.

With that being said, I do not regret this burden the LORD placed upon me. I agreed to it. While joyful, it is still an obligation. I cannot tell them tomorrow to get out and free myself of the married life. I mean, I can, but then I wouldn’t view it as an obligation. I would view it as something joyful in my life which can be cut at my leisure.

In the same way, tithing and serving are obligations placed on my heart to further the glory of God. Some months I’m not happy to tithe because money is tight. Yesterday, being at church from 7am to 3:30pm so I could sing and provide kids with candy at trunk or treat was exhausting. Congestion made it a struggle to get out of bed. The heat made it hard to wear a Pikachu jumper.

But it was an obligation.

I’m not saying I didn’t have fun. Singing is a great deal of fun. Seeing the face of kids get candy is amazing. But if not for obligation, I wouldn’t have gone. Instead, I would say I’m sick and sit at home to joyfully play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

What are your obligations? How do they challenge you? How do they bring you joy?

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