“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
“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.” (Luke 17:10)
Duty. I will say it again and again and again. The word “duty,” The most important word in the entire Christian language concerning service for God.
Would you open your Bibles to Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 13. Ecclesiastes chapter 12, verses 13 and 14.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
In verse 13 it says here is the conclusion of the whole thing. He said I have finished the book now. I want to tell you a little summary of what I have said He said, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
Our Heavenly Father, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this place, for those early days and now through these years for these tremendous achievements and accomplishments and blessings and this tremendous progress we have seen here on this place, for this miracle place, for these miracle people and for a miracle-working God who has wrought so much here. Now Father, I give you myself tonight. You know how much I want to be a blessing and you know how much I want to be appropriate for this occasion. So I pray that you will speak to my heart and through me. I pray that you will speak to those who share with me this hour. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Pastor, I have lost my burden for soul winning. There was a day when soul winning was an opportunity. I used to enjoy passing out gospel tracts on the street corner. I used to enjoy going soul winning. I used to enjoy knocking on doors and winning folks to Christ. But, Pastor, something has happened to me. I have lost my burden for soul winning. I don’t like to go soul winning anymore.”
“Pastor, I will be honest with you. I do not enjoy the Bible like I once enjoyed the Bible. There was a day when the Bible was to me like a love letter from Heaven. God wrote it in bold letters just for me and I loved to read its pages. But, Pastor, when I read the Bible now somehow or other it doesn’t speak to me like it used to speak to me. Pastor, what is wrong? Why do I not enjoy the Bible like I once enjoyed it?”
“Pastor, I will be honest with you. I don’t want to come to church sometimes. There was a day when I delighted to come to church. When the choir would sing the opening song, it did something for me that nothing else had ever done. And, Pastor, when you used to preach I used to enjoy the message and I used to enjoy sitting in the congregation. My, how sweet the special music was and how wonderful the fellowship was. But, Pastor, something has happened to me. All of a sudden I find myself not enjoying the church service anymore.”
“Pastor, my prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. I used to love to pray. I used to love to come into the presence of God and to me it was like having an audience with the King of Kings. I used to love to bow on my knees and spend hours in prayer. I used to love to fellowship with God and He walked with me and He talked with me and He told me I was His own and the joys we shared as we tarried there, none other has ever known. But, Pastor, something has happened to me. All of a sudden I don’t enjoy praying anymore. It is no longer a thrill. It seems like my prayers bounce off the ceiling and it seems like they just go out into the air. It seems like God doesn’t hear me anymore. I will be honest with you, Pastor, I just don’t really enjoy praying anymore.”
“Pastor, I would like to talk to you. My Sunday school class has become a burden to me. I used to enjoy teaching. I will not forget, ever, the day that you invited me to take that Sunday school class. As I stood with the open Bible in front of my little class of boys or girls I recall, Pastor, how I enjoyed teaching the Bible and what a thrill and excitement it was every Sunday. But, Pastor, I don’t enjoy it. I find myself sometimes not even wanting to come to Sunday school and I wish I didn’t even have a Sunday school class anymore. Pastor, what’s wrong with me?”
“Pastor, my bus route, I used to like it. It used to be that I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come when I could go out and spend four or five or six or seven or eight hours calling on the bus route. But, Pastor, all of a sudden now I don’t enjoy it. It is a drudgery to me. Pastor, what’s wrong?”
Right here, right here the men are separated from the boys. The first step in backsliding is right here. When the day comes (and it will come) that Bible reading is no longer an excitement to you and you no longer want to do it, but you do it because it is right, you have become a good Christian then.
That day when you don’t want to go out soul winning, that day when you don’t desire to go soul winning and you wish you could stay home and it is no longer an inspiration, it is no longer an enjoyment but you do it not because you want to do it but because it is your duty to do it, that is the day you mature in the Christian life.
When you do that which you ought to do because you ought to do it and not because you like to do it that is the day the men are separated from the boys.
Here is the difference between a great church and a good church. A great church serves God when the tingle is gone, the inspiration is gone, the excitement is gone, the thrill is gone. But the church keeps on going. When they feel good about it and bad about it they keep on going.
Here is the difference between rearing good children and bad children. That person who says, “I have my sixth child now, or my seventh child, and I don’t enjoy anymore saying, ‘This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, and this little piggy had none, and this little piggy cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.’ I don’t enjoy it anymore. We used to get up at two o’clock in the morning and feed the baby a warm bottle. Now with number seven, we just prop the cold bottle on a pillow and go back to bed. Pastor, the enjoyment is gone.”
Listen to me. You are not a good Christian because you do what you like to do when you enjoy doing it. You become a good Christian when you come to that place in your Christian life where the Bible is no longer an enjoyment but you read it because you are supposed to read it. When you transfer inspiration for obligation in Bible reading, in prayer, in soul winning, in Sunday school teaching, in bus ministry and, yes, at the Bill Rice Ranch as you work this summer, then you are a good Christian.
Hey, it is exciting here right now. This is June. You just got here. The cowboy town has been dedicated. Boy this is great. Look at this crowd. But long about the middle of July when it gets hotter and hotter and hotter and damper and damper and damper and you get tireder and tireder and tireder and it gets rainier and rainier and rainier and muddier and muddier and muddier and you stay down here with your salary and you get “broker” and “broker” and “broker.” All of a sudden the cookout breakfast which used to be fun, becomes work.
You used to say at the cookout, “Boy oh boy, look at them pull that trigger and shoot that can of milk.” Now you say, “Boy, they are shooting that stupid can of milk again!” It is no longer a delight and enjoyment.
Listen, when you say by the grace of God I will do what I am supposed to do, not because I want to, not because I am inspired, not because I feel a great delight, but I will do what I do because I am supposed to do it. Then I say, ladies and gentlemen, that duty is the single most important word in the entire English language for the Christian.
Rescue the perishing, Duty demands it;
Strength for thy Labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way Patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.
Duty. Now I will be honest with you. I hate to admit it. Many of the things I do I do because I am supposed to do them and not because I want to do them.
I was thinking Monday morning about this subject. I was thinking of all the things that morning I had done I didn’t want to do. It starts off with getting up. Somebody said, “I wish I were like Dr. Jack Hyles. A bundle of energy, just bounce out of bed every morning.” I don’t get up in the morning. I get resurrected every morning ! My left foot says to my right foot, “Move.” And my right foot says, “I moved first yesterday morning. It’s your time to move I never like to get up.”
“But,” you say, “Brother Hyles, what time do you get up?”
Five forty-five. Every morning. Five forty-five on Monday. Five forty-five on Tuesday. Five forty-five on Wednesday. Five forty-five on Thursday.
You say, “Why? Don’t you want to?”
No, I don’t want to. I do not remember the last time I wanted to get up.
“Well,” you say, “why do you do it?”
Because I am supposed to do it, that’s why. It is my duty I am supposed to do it.
That is one reason why we ought to rally to this Ranch, those of us who are friends of the Ranch, we ought to rally to Dr. Bill III and Dr. Cathy and Pete and those others who lead us in the work here. Why? Because we have sworn our friendship to them and as a friend of the Bill Rice Ranch it is my pleasure to help. But if it is not my pleasure to help it is my duty to help and my obligation to help. And when that time comes where you do not want to send an offering because you are not inspired, you send it because you are supposed to send it. And you send your young folks here because you are supposed to send them here. And you do that which you ought to do because it is your duty to do it.
When I was a kid my mother said, “Son, eat your okra.”
And I said, “Mama, you don’t eat okra, you suck it down. You go slurp and it’s down.”
She said, ”Eat it.”
And I said, “Mama, I don’t like it.”
She said, “Eat it.”
And my mama taught me it was my duty to eat my okra. I will guarantee you one thing there was no other real good reason to eat it!
There came a time in my life when the dear Lord looked down and said, “Ole Jack eats his okra because he is supposed to eat it. Now I am going to let him enjoy eating it.”
This afternoon I got off the airplane. I drove to Murfreesboro to a certain restaurant downtown that always has good old country vegetables. I prayed for 35 minutes from the airport they would have okra on the menu! I love okra. I mean I love the slimy, gooey, sloppy stuff. I love the little old seeds inside of it that I used to hate because they got hung in my throat. I love it. I walked down to the restaurant on a corner of downtown Murfreesboro where I always try to go and get some fresh vegetables when I am in town. I said to myself, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! They’ve got boiled okra.”
The waitress came and said, “What do you want?”
And I said, “I want a vegetable plate.”
And she said, “What do you want on it?”
I said, “Give me some boiled okra, some green beans, and some boiled okra.”
And she brought me one helping of green beans and two helpings of boiled okra. Bless God, I had the time of my life. You can have your T-bone steak. You can have your prime rib. You can have your chateau-brian (You didn’t know I knew those big words, did you?) and you can have your pheasant and you can have your lobster. You can have anything you want to have. You just give me some old-fashioned boiled okra. You know why? Because I ate that stupid stuff, pardon me, I sucked that stupid stuff and I sucked it for years and years and years and years and years. I did it because it was my duty and there came the day when God let me enjoy it.
God is saying, “I want to see if he will do what he should because he loves me, not because it makes him tingle, not because he enjoys it, not because it is delightful. I want to find out if he does it because he loves me when it is not enjoyable, he does not tingle and it is not delightful. The Christian who has character keeps on doing it. Why? Because he is supposed to do it. It is his duty. And you keep on doing it and one day the dear Lord looks down and says, “I think he is going to do it anyhow. Holy Spirit, make it fun. Make it fun for him again.” And the Lord makes it fun.
I hate to say this. I don’t always like to preach. Now I usually do but sometimes I don’t want to Preach.
“Well,” you say, “Brother Hyles, what do you do?”
I preach anyhow.
Two weeks ago our son David received a doctors degree from a college in Florida. The commencement services were on Sunday night. It was one of the greatest days of his life and his dad was not there. Why? Because God has called me to pastor the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. It is my duty. That night when I walked into my pulpit my mind was twelve hundred miles away. But I preached. Why? It was my duty.
I challenge and charge you workers of this Ranch and those of us who are friends of this Ranch. Let’s renew our vows to God Almighty to serve when we want to serve and serve when we don’t want to serve. To give when we would like to give and give when we would not like to give. I charge you to say, “By the grace of God, this is my responsibility. It is my duty. And when the day comes when it is no longer fun I will still do it because it is my duty.”
Someone said, “I slept and dreamed that life was beauty. I woke and found that life was duty.”
Another has said, “Duty is the cement which binds the whole moral edifice together.”
It was Heintzelman who said (now hang on every word of this statement), “Be and continue poor, young man, while others around thee grow rich by fraud and disloyalty. Be without place and power while others beg their way upward. Bear the pain of disappointed hopes while others gain the accomplishment of theirs by flattery. Wrap yourselves in your own virtue and seek a friend and your daily bread. If you have in your own cause grown gray with unbleached honor, you can bless God and die,”
What America needs is a generation of young people who will say I will do what I ought to do. I will do what I am supposed to do.
If in this service tonight I could inspire you to go soul winning and you were to say, “I am inspired to go soul winning,” it would probably last until you witnessed to the first fellow at the first service station on the way home. But if I could give you a truth that has molded my life (and by the way, it has molded the life of Dr. Bill Rice, Dr. John Rice, Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., Dr. Bob Gray, Dr. Lee Roberson, and every other successful man of God who has ever lived), if I could give you not an inspiration to do right but an obligation to do right and you will say, “I will go soul winning not because I feel like it but because I am supposed to go,” this service could change your life.
Somebody said, “Greatness consists not in one seeking his own pleasure or things or advancement or glory but in seeking one’s own duty.”
Edmund Burke said, “Never despair But if you do despair, work on in despair.”
One word separates the A’s in Hyles-Anderson College from the C’s and that one word is duty. Somebody said, “He is a brain. She is a brain.” No sir. She does her duty. He does his duty.
One word separates the young man who sells his decency and morality for an evening of enjoyment and pleasure from that young man who walks down the aisle pure and clean and virgin. And that one word is duty.
I am tired of people saying, “Well, Brother Hyles, I am just highly passionate. I am just excessively sexually stimulated.”
Oh phooey on you!
The difference between decency and indecency and morality and immorality and virginity and purity is not who is stimulated physically. It is the one who says, “It is my duty to be clean. It is my duty to be pure. It is my duty to have honor. It is my duty to have integrity.”
There is one word that separates that young lady who walks down the marriage aisle clean and pure and gives herself to her groom a clean, chaste virgin and that young lady who gives herself a spoiled, soiled, unchaste, unclean body to her young bridegroom and that word is duty.
That lovely girl is tempting to all of us. Those beautiful lips appeal to all of us. That desire to embrace her is in all of us. That desire to be lazy is in all of us. That desire not to work is in all of us. That desire to sleep late in the morning is in all of us. The difference between us is that some have given themselves to doing that which they are inspired to do and some have given themselves to doing that which they are supposed to do. Duty!
The difference in that loyal assistant pastor and that turncoat, disloyal Benedict Arnold is duty.
The difference in that pastor who builds a great work and that pastor who fails is the word duty.
Listen, there is not much difference between the preaching of the great preachers in America and the preaching of those who are mediocre. The difference is not in pulpit performance. The difference is in obeying the alarm clock in the morning. The difference is not in preaching. It is in sweating.
I think I know what I am talking about for God did not give me the gift He has given to others. God did not make me a ten-talented man. I know my limitations. I do not have the brains or the depth of a John Rice. I do not have the winsomeness and the strong leadership of Lee Roberson. Nor do I have the eloquence of an R. G. Lee. But I learned one time that I can get up as early as any of them. And I can stay up as late as any of them. I can work as hard as any of them. And though I do not have those natural gifts I can do that which God has called me to do. I can obey. If you want to find what secret there is to my little ministry, you just come to First Baptist Church of Hammond and you follow me around and you will find that I have set me a schedule and that schedule is my boss and I obey that schedule. When my schedule says get up, I get up. When my schedule says go to work, I go to work. When my schedule says pray, I pray. When my schedule says study, I study. When my schedule says counsel, I counsel.
I learned one time the spoil is not to the handsome. I learned one time the spoil is not for the learned. I learned one time the spoil is not for the scholarly. I learned one time the spoil is not for the big. I learned one time the spoil is not for the humorous. I learned one time the spoil is not for the dynamic. I learned one time the spoil is for the one who says, ”I am to do it and I will do supposed it.”
I am going to support this Ranch. I am going to support it whether Dr. Bill Rice is director or Dr. Bill III is director or Pete is director or Cathy is director I am going to support this Ranch. Why? Because I believe God has let this Ranch and the people here cross my path and I believe God let the Ranch cross my path because God wanted me to be a friend to this Ranch, It is my delight and my pleasure but when it ceases to be a delight or pleasure I will transfer my motive from inspiration to obligation and be a supporter of this Ranch.
Now, you are on the staff here and you say, “Boy, I’ll tell you. This is great. Oh boy, I am going to get to hear all these great men preach and see all these deaf weeks. Oh boy, I’ll tell you, I can’t wait.”
Yes, you may last two weeks. But for those of you who say, “I am down here to work, it is my duty, my obligation,” you are the kind that is going to get the job done. It is my duty.
I tell my Hyles-Anderson students the day is going to come when you won’t have the excitement of Hyles-Anderson College or the thrill of the First Baptist Church of Hammond or the inspiration of Dr. Jack Hyles and others. The day is going to come when you are out on the field and there is nothing to make you go soul winning but duty. It will be hot. You won’t have a good prospect in your file. All you are going to do is walk down a street and knock on some doors. And I say, ”You listen to me, you listen to me. When you go soul winning that afternoon God records a few rewards in Heaven for you because it is your duty to go.”
George Washington’s motto was one word—Duty. General Wellington, that famous man who conquered Napoleon, said these words, ”There is little in life worth living for but to go straightforward and do our duty.” In one tough battle he said to his men, “Stand steady, lads. Think of what they will think of us in England.”
And they replied, ”Never fear, sir. We know our duty.”
Do you know why I don’t watch Edge of Night? Do you know why I don’t watch The Secret Storm? And by the way, if you do, you need to hit the mourners bench. You know why I don’t watch all that sex-oriented garbage with filth and drinking and martinis and lust and immorality and indecency and broken homes and triangular affairs? You know why?
You say, “Brother Hyles, it’s because you don’t enjoy it,”
I’ve got the same flesh you’ve got. I don’t watch it because it is my duty not to watch it.
A fellow came to my church about two years ago from a seminary. He was writing a book on the great churches in America. He spent a few days at our church. He wrote a book and he said, “The First Baptist Church of Hammond is a church where Archie Bunker would feel at home.” And I didn’t know who Archie Bunker was. The first question I asked him, I said, “Where does he pastor?” The last time I watched a television program during prime time was eleven years ago. I didn’t even know who Archie Bunker was!
Somebody said, “He is a television star.”
I said, “When does he come on?”
They said, “Well he has reruns in the afternoon.”
So, during a meeting, I got to my motel room one afternoon. I was going to find out who would enjoy our church. Boy, I thought it would be some guy that was testifying for Jesus. Do you know what? I watched one time. He is the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. Honestly. Man, I would love to watch him every afternoon but I do not. Do you know why? Well, because the program I watched told about his son-in-law becoming sexually impotent. The entire program was around getting his potency back. Now, I enjoyed the humor, It was fabulous.
You say, “Brother Hyles, I know why you don’t watch it. Because you don’t like that kind of garbage.”
Yes, I do like that kind of garbage. Now not the immoral part, but I like his humor. I think he is funny. But I would not turn my television dial in my living room to that garbage for all the money in the world. Why? It is my duty to stay clean and pure and decent. That’s why.
If you are a good Christian, you fulfill your duty. You do what you ought to do.
Admiral Nelson had as his watchword these words, “England expects every man to do his duty.” His last words were these, “I have done my duty. Praise God for it.” At Trafalgar, the great battle there, he raised the banner and on the banner were these words, written so his men could see it as they marched to battle, “Not glory, not victory, not honor, not country, but duty.” Duty!
Somebody asked me, “Brother Hyles, why do you preach so much? You have about preached your voice away.”
You notice I cough a lot. I have done it for years as you well know. I get embarrassed about it. In fact, for years I thought I had cancer of the throat. Most everything a guy could have, I thought I had! I wouldn’t go to the doctor for the same reason a lot of you folks don’t come to hear me preach, I didn’t want to hear bad news! I knew I had cancer! Why go and have it confirmed! Then one night about seventeen months ago one of the doctors in my church came to me on the way to church, and said, “Pastor, I think you are bad sick.”
Well, boy, I got sick in a hurry. I said, “What? What?”
He said, “I think you are bad sick. You better report to the hospital.”
The next day I checked into Billings Hospital in Chicago. One of the most famous in the world. I had tests. They put me into a little mini skirt, a little gown that came down just above my knees. And you ought to see my knees. They are really something to behold, It tied in the back but it didn’t come all the way together in the back. They sat me down, of all places, in the hallway of the hospital. That big, giant University of Chicago Hospital and there I was sitting out in the hallway holding my skirt together in the back. And I said to myself, “Lord, don’t let anybody come by that I know,” You won’t believe this but it is true, Honest, It is true. The first fellow that came by was one of my deacons.
He looked at my mini skirt and saw my condition and then he said, “Pastor, how darling.”
I said, “Just shut up and keep going.”
For days they gave me tests. They checked my head and found it was empty! They checked my heart and found it was cold! Then came the day when they gave me minor surgery and put me underneath a big old light. They were going to run a big thing down inside my throat. It was about forty-two inches long with a T.V. camera on the end of it. The doctor watched the television screen while a camera went down inside my throat.
Somebody said, “Have you been on television lately?”
“No,” I said, “but my gizzard has!”
The thing was about the size of a battery cable and had a television camera on the end of it.
The nurse said, “We’ve got to put you to sleep.”
I said, “No, I am going to stay awake.”
She said, “We have to.”
I said, “No, you don’t. You can give me local anesthesia.”
She gave me some shots in the throat and deadened my throat. And I said, “Doc, tell me the truth. I want to know what is wrong.”
He said, “Pastor, I will be honest with you.”
Did anybody here ever have one of those things down your throat? You know what it is like. I couldn’t wait until it got to the voice box because I just knew I had nodes, growths, or cancer, or something on the voice box.
And I said, “Doctor, have you gotten to the voice box yet?”
He said, “No, I haven’t gotten to the voice box yet, Pastor.”
“Well, will you tell me when you get to the voice box?”
And he said, “Yes, Pastor. I will tell you when I get to the voice box. ”
“Doctor, are you going to tell me the truth?”
He said, “I am going to tell you the truth.”
And then I said, “Doctor, are you down to the voice box yet?”
He said, “No, I am not down there yet.” Finally, he said, “Pastor, I am down in the voice box now.”
What do you see?”
And he said, “Pastor, there is no growth at all on your voice box. You can preach as far as I can tell now the rest of your life.”
Did you ever shout with a battery cable down your throat?
“Hallelujah! Glory to God! Amen! Amen! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Glory to God! Amen!”
I got up and the doctor said, “You don’t have a hiatus.”
A hiatus is a valve at the bottom of your esophagus that opens up when the food goes down and when the food goes down it closes up again. I don’t have one so my food is just like an elevator. It goes down and up and down and up. I am eating last Wednesday’s breakfast right now! I am like the cows out here on the Ranch. I put it down there and then bring it up and eat it a little while later! Over and over and over and over again. That’s why I cough and clear my throat, because I have food down there. Brother, it may bother you but it doesn’t bother me. I walked out of that hospital and ran up and down the University of Chicago campus with my shoes off; it was about freezing and it was raining. I hollered, “Hey, I can preach! I can preach! I can preach! I can preach!” One longhaired freak looked at me and said, “I’ll bet you could. I really bet you could!”
The doctor said, “If you will just preach three times a week you won’t have that trouble.”
I said, “I will just keep the trouble.”
You say, “Why?”
Because God has given me the ear of young preachers across this country and as long as I have it, it is my duty to preach to them. And if I’ve got to croak while I preach, I will croak while I preach. I am not going to be like some of you lazy rascals. Some of you preachers don’t even know the sun comes up gradually! You don’t even go to work in the morning until you take your kids to school and then you go to work. You tell your wife to take them! Or better still, let them walk. Or get them a bicycle. I am not going to let kids start to school in the morning before Jack Hyles gets to work. Get up! Why? Because it is your duty. Work! Why? It is your duty. Be busy! Why? It is your duty. Duty. There is nothing like it in the Christian life.
Epictetus said, “In life’s drama we do not choose our own parts and have nothing to do with those parts. Our simple duty is confined to playing our part well.”
As I said a while ago, if I have any greatness at all (and I do not think I do) it is caused by doing my duty. Greatness is not in the recital. Greatness is found in the practice room. Greatness is not in the performance. Greatness is in the preparation. Greatness is not found in the pulpit. Greatness is found in the study. Greatness is not an A on a test. Greatness is in proper studying for that test.
Greatness is not in the dining room. Greatness is in the kitchen. The greatness of that meal a while ago was not our eating it in the dining room. The greatness of that meal was somebody diligently prepared that meal for us. Greatness is not the World Series. Greatness is in spring training. Greatness is not one inspired to great heights but one who works in great depths. Greatness is not found on the ball field. Greatness is found on the practice field. Greatness is not found in performing many great feats. Greatness is found in performing many small duties. For if you are what you ought to be in the practice room, your recital will take care of itself. And if you are what you ought to be in preparation, the performance will take care of itself. And if you are what you ought to be in the study the sermon will take care of itself. And if you are what you ought to be in spring training, the World Series will take care of itself. And if you are what you ought to be in performing those little tasks and little duties that God has given you as your obligation, then the performance and the result and the record will take care of themselves.
You don’t have to copy Jack Hyles and try to have 15,000 in Sunday school. You copy Jack Hyles when the alarm goes off at 5:45 in the morning.
I have watched Dr. John Rice through these years, I saw him last night at First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana sitting in a wheel chair. In a wheel chair in the room outside the auditorium about ready to preach. In a wheelchair! He stood and preached to the First Baptist Church in Hammond last night like he did 25 years ago. He had a heart attack recently. He is not supposed to climb stairs. You bring him into the service right about time to preach. He walks up and preaches and then as soon as he is finished preaching he goes out in the car and goes back to his room to get enough energy to preach the next time. By every right, the old man should not be preaching. You say, “Why does he?” I’ll tell you why he does. It is his duty.
I wish I could transplant some of that into you. You say, “I wish I had enough talent so I could be a great man.”
It is not talent.
You say, “I wish I had a dynamic personality.”
It is not a dynamic personality.
It is fortitude. It is character. It is decency. It is integrity. It is honor. It is obedience. It is schedule. It is punctuality. Duty. Duty.
My mother used to say to me, “‘Son, bathe.”
I bathed because it was my duty and I still don’t like to bathe. You can’t read while you bathe. You can’t write while you bathe. All you can do is bathe while you bathe. I detest doing something when you can’t do something else while you are doing it! But I bathed.
First thing I do in the morning is to get up. I don’t want to get up. The second thing I do is go to the bathroom and weigh myself. I don’t want to weigh myself. The darkest hour of my day is when I step on those scales and I want to say like they said to the prophets of old, “Speak peace, speak smooth things to me.” But the scales always speak harsh words, unkind words to me. I get up. I do not want to do that. I weigh. I do not want to do that. I bathe. I do not want to do that. But it is my duty.
I wrote these words one day: Duty determines my schedule and my schedule determines my duties.
Most of the time, I hate to admit it, but most of the time when I read my Bible I don’t want to.
There are times when the Bible is right here and a Sports Illustrated is right here. I look at that Sports Illustrated magazine and you say, “What do you do, Brother Hyles?”
It is Bible reading time. I read the Bible.
Because I am supposed to.
“You mean Dr. Jack Hyles sometimes does not like to read his Bible?”
Yep, a lot of times he doesn’t like to read the Bible.
“Why do you do it?”
It is my duty.
I’ll say this. Most of the time I don’t want to go soul winning. I said most of the time I don’t want to go soul winning.
“Hold it, didn’t you write a book on Let’s Go Soul Winning?”
“Didn’t you write a book on Jack Hyles’ Favorite Soul Winning Experiences?”
“Didn’t you make a tape on soul winning?”
“Didn’t you make a record on soul winning?”
“Don’t you teach soul winning courses in big conventions?”
“You don’t want to go soul winning?”
Yes, you are right. But once I start, I never want to finish. And I start because it is my duty.
Tuesday morning I was standing at the checkout window of a beautiful hotel. A very cultured, refined lady was checking me out and I knew I was supposed to witness to her. It was my duty. And I said, “Could I ask you a question, please?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “Do you know…”
And she said, “Know what?”
And I said, “That it is hot outside!” I chickened out. I got a yellow streak down my spine.
You say, “Brother Hyles, you mean to tell me that Dr. Jack Hyles chickened out?”
Yep, big chicken, too. I mean a giant.
“What did you do?”
I knew that if I waited any longer I would never do it so I blurted it out. “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” Fifteen folks were waiting in line behind me. I didn’t want to do it. It was a resort hotel and nobody at a resort hotel talks about Jesus or the Bible. When I said, “Would you go to Heaven if you died?” she dropped her pen.
She said, “What did you ask me?”
I said, “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” A tear dropped from her eye and she said, “No, but I would like to know.”
With fifteen folks listening and waiting their time to pay their bill, I told her how to be saved and she prayed the sinner’s prayer and got converted. She promised to walk the aisle the next Sunday in a church. She finished the bill. I started to walk away. The folks behind were almost popping because I was leaving and she said, “Wait a minute. I want to say something to you.”
I said, “What is it?”
She said, “I have been trying to find a church I liked but I couldn’t find one. I’d go from church to church and couldn’t find one I liked. Now I know. I wasn’t looking for a church. I was looking for Jesus.”
And the folks back here were stunned. We were having preaching and testifying right there in the hotel lobby. By the time she got through, Man, I wanted to go to every doorman, to every porter, to every waitress, and witness to everybody in that hotel!
You say, “You wanted to then.”
Yes, I did but the starter is duty.
I was up in New Brunswick, Canada up near Nova Scotia. One morning I got on the elevator and I wanted to get back to my room right quick and two little boys got on. I was on the eleventh floor. I was getting on after breakfast and the little boys wanted to have some fun. They pushed every stinking button on that elevator! It took us five minutes to get to the eleventh floor. I never wanted to wring little boys necks in my life so bad. That night. I got through preaching. I was waiting at the elevator. I was tired and weary. It was late. One man was standing beside me. I said, “What floor are you going to?”
I said, ”Me too.”
The old Devil said, “He thinks you are pretty smart. He probably thinks you are an attorney or a doctor and now you are going to tell him you are a preacher.”
I said, “Do you know if you died you would go to Heaven?”
He said, “No, I don’t.”
I said, “Could I show you how to go to Heaven?”
He said, “I don’t have time.”
I said, ”If you had time, would you listen?”
He said, “Yes, I would.”
I said, “Give me five minutes.”
He said, ”I can’t. I don’t have time.”
We got on the elevator. As we got on, I quickly punched the buttons for eleven floors!
He turned around and said, “This car is going to stop at all these floors?”
“Yes, I think so.” I got my testament out and said, “You told me if you had five minutes, I know how long it takes to get up there.” By the time we got to the top floor he was interested and we got on our knees on the top floor and he got saved.
Now that’s what I am saying.
You say, “Brother Hyles, what did you do then?”
I got on the elevator and went back down and out on the streets and did some soul winning. That’s what I did.
Because I was inspired to do the second one. But I was obligated to do the first one.
Choir member, when you joined the choir it became your duty to go to practice.
Deacon when you were set aside to be a deacon it became your duty to be faithful to deacons’ meetings.
Usher when you were chosen to be an usher it became your duty to man your post every time the church doors are open.
Sunday school teacher when you took that class it became your duty to teach that class every Sunday. I said every Sunday! I said every Sunday!
It is your duty this year to give your best to this Ranch. It is our responsibility to support it. As long as I have breath to breathe and a sound and sane mind (and there are those who think I have already crossed that line) but as long as I have breath to breathe and a sound and sane mind, I am going to be a friend of the Bill Rice Ranch. I want to. But there will be times when I will have pressing responsibilities at Hammond, there will be times when I will not be able to see the financial sunrise in my own ministry; that does not lessen my obligation to support this work here, It is my duty.
I pastored (for almost seven years) the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. When the church was running about 1,500 in Sunday school I used to stand outside in the front and shake hands with everybody who came in.
There was a shopping center across the street and we used the parking lot of that shopping center for our service, for parking. I looked across the street one Sunday morning and I saw a good looking couple coming across the street. He was about six foot two. By the way, he was built a lot like Dr. Bill Rice when he was a younger man. He was tall. His clothes fit perfectly.
This fellow was a tall, good looking, handsome fellow. His clothes were just a perfect fit. Everything matched just right. He had beside him his little wife and she was less than five feet tall and I guess, weighed less than a hundred pounds and just as cute as a bug. They were striking. If they walked in that door back there tonight and you saw them, you would say, ”I wonder who they are?” They walked across the street and I walked out and I said, “My name is Jack Hyles.”
He said, “My name is Paul Sand.”
I said, “Is this Mrs. Sand?” He said, ”Yes, it is,”
“Are you folks new in town,” I asked.
“Yes, we are. I am with the telephone company in Garland. We just moved here. We live down at the bottom of the hill on Miller Road. We have to drive by the church here every Sunday and we thought we would just come to visit you this morning.”
I said, “Well, I am so glad to have you. Welcome to Garland and welcome to Miller Road Baptist Church and welcome to our services.” And they said, “Thank you.”
They walked in, sat through Sunday school, stayed for preaching, and both of them were saved that morning. Both of them were baptized that night. They became model Christians. If I wanted to point to somebody and say, “Those are Miller Road Baptist members,” I would say, “That’s the couple, Paul Sand and Mrs. Sand.” They were always present on Sunday morning. Sunday night they were faithful. Wednesday night they were always there. On Monday night visitation they were always there. I gave them Sunday school classes.
One Wednesday night I asked my assistant pastor, “Do you see Paul Sand?”
He said, “Pastor, I don’t see him.”
The next Wednesday night they came back and again the next Wednesday night. And then, again, they missed a Wednesday.
That’s right where some of you folks are right now. You go to church when the pastor is preaching on “When Will Russia Invade Palestine” or if the pastor has a good sermon on the unpardonable sin you go. But if you don’t want to go you don’t go. You say, “Oh, I don’t always get anything out of his sermons”. You don’t go to get something out of them, You go because it is your duty to go. By the way, when you develop duty performing then you will have gotten more out of it than you ever got out of a sermon in your life!
I looked out one Sunday night and Paul Sand was missing.
He came back the next Sunday night two or three weeks in a row and then he dropped out again. Right where some of you are now. I mean you are just half in and half out and half on and half off and you just do what you are inspired to do when you ought to do what you are supposed to do.
And then Sunday mornings he missed and took a few weekend trips. I hate weekend trips with a purple passion. I hate them. ”Well,” you say, “we always visit other churches.” Try that in the army, Go AWOL and visit other army camps down south while you are gone. See how that sets with the general up north.
Then the day came. Paul Sand came to my office and said, ”Pastor, I am resigning my Sunday school class.”
I said, “Paul, you shouldn’t do that.”
He said, “Pastor, I feel the Lord is leading me.”
Isn’t it amazing how you can hide your backslidden condition behind the will of God? God never leads any Christian to go backwards. If God leads you to resign your Sunday school class it is because He wants you to have a bigger one or to go preach somewhere.
I said, “Paul, you know you are backslidden. Paul, you know you have been missing Wednesday night and Sunday night and weekend trips have taken you from your class and sometimes you don’t even tell us you are going to be gone. Why don’t you become the old Paul Sand? You know how you used to be. You don’t come to soul winning on Monday night. You don’t come to prayer meeting all the time, Paul, in God’s name, you are going to backslide.”
And Paul said, “Never mind. God wants me to resign the class.”
He took his class record book and tossed it on my desk like that and walked away. That has been twenty-two years ago.
The other day I was opening a big stack of mail. I came to a letter. The upper left hand corner said Paul Sand.
Paul Sand. Paul Sand. Paul… yeh, the tall good looking guy. Works for the telephone company. Had that cute little petite wife. Sure. Taught a junior boys Sunday school class. Yeh, Miller Road Baptist Church. Over 20 years ago. Paul Sand. I didn’t even know he knew I existed anymore. I am glad to get a letter from Paul Sand, I thought. I opened the letter. Upper left hand corner—are you listening—was his name and the name of a Texas penitentiary.
It went something like this:
“Dear Brother Hyles, You may not remember me. My name is Paul Sand. I lived on Miller Road down at the bottom of the hill. I worked for the telephone company. My wife and I both were saved at Miller Road Baptist Church. I taught a Sunday school class and so did she. I am in the penitentiary. You see, Brother Hyles, a few weeks ago, I caught my wife making love to another man in the parking lot of a shopping center. I got in my car and drove home and got the gun out of the closet and I murdered the other man and I murdered my wife.”
I couldn’t even comprehend. That handsome young man murdering that cute little wife.
“Brother Hyles, I am now serving a life sentence in a Texas penitentiary. P.S.”
Are you listening?
“P.S. It all started the day I resigned my Sunday school class.”
Here’s when it started. It started when he no longer enjoyed doing what he was supposed to do and he did not transfer inspiration to obligation as a motive for service.
Sit up straight and listen to me for a minute.
Listen. How about you? How about your responsibilities here at the Ranch, in your church, at home. How about it? How about it? Is there something that is no longer fun to do? Something you no longer feel inspired to do? You have not transferred your motivation from inspiration to obligation.
Listen to me. I do not have the depth of a John Rice nor the impressive look of Lee Roberson nor the brilliance of a Bob Jones nor the eloquence of an R. G. Lee nor the mighty pen of a John Rice nor the winsome personality of a Bill Rice.
You say, “How in the world do you do it?”
One word. For 32 years my watchword has been duty. Duty. Duty. Duty. Duty. Duty.
I slept and dreamed that life was beauty, I woke and found that life was duty.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
“Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
I call the workers at this Ranch to task tonight and charge you to fulfill every duty of your office and responsibility this year. And I charge every single one of us who are friends of this ministry to support it until we face God and meet again our beloved Dr. Bill because duty demands it.
Duty. Don’t forget it.
Duty. Don’t escape it.
Duty. Don’t neglect it.
That’s the difference between mediocrity and greatness. And when mediocrity becomes greatness and goodness becomes best is when the individual comes to a place where that which he ought to do is no longer fun to do but he does it because it is his duty.