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The Duty of Man
“Duty” is more important than “Desire.”
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Spirit of Prophecies
I am a ship and “Desire” is the name of my main sail.
B. Subject: “The Duty of Man”. Based on Ecclesiastes 12:13, Luke 17:10 and Job 33:23-25.
1. Significantly, the concept of “duty” figures prominently in Solomon’s “conclusion” of his search for wisdom and understanding. He writes: “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. (Authorized King James Version)
2. Jesus Christ alludes to the duty of his disciples in Luke 17:10. “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.”(Authorized King James Version)
3. In Job 33:23-25, Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, pronounces the following words for the very afflicted Job: “If there be with him an angel, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man what is right for him; then God is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” (American Standard Version) “…what is right” for “man” implies “duty” on the part of man to do “what is right,”and, interestingly, “su deber” –“his duty”- is the translation in the widely used 1960 Reina Valera version in Spanish.
C. “Duty” as defined by Merriam Webster.
2a: obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one's position (as in life or in a group).
3a: a moral or legal obligation. b: the force of moral obligation. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duty
D. As much as for the human being’s emotional, mental and physical health as for his eternal salvation, “Duty” is found to be more important than “Desire.”
1. “I desire to live a clean life and do good.” An excellent sentiment and goal. A great many human beings share that sentiment, but comparatively few make it a reality on a major scale, day after day, all along the width and breadth of life.
2. “It is my duty to live a clean life and do good.” This affirmation, made without enthusiasm or real commitment, tends to end up being sterile. On the other hand, much can be expected from the person who states it vigorously and with strong conviction.
3. Now, when “Desire” and “Duty” are bound together by the ties of sincerity, passion and vision, they can be a formidable combination of forces capable of imparting tremendous drive to any lifestyle, work or project -practically unstoppable.
Sailing along the coast of the Dominican Republic.
F. I would compare “Desire” to a great sail that fills, at times, with the winds of a real faith and secure hopes; at other times, with the light breezes of wishes, illusions or dreams that blow erratically. I am a ship and “Desire” is the name of my great main sail. I left port when I was born and I navigate over the “Seas of Time and Space” toward the harbor I have selected, with the right to change course and destiny if I would like to, or simply float along aimlessly, without purpose or a port in mind.
G. On the other hand, I would compare “Duty” to a MOTOR that can always be counted on. If I have set the “Harbor of the Celestial City” as the port where I would like to tie up at the end of this voyage through earthly spheres, the “Duty Motor” can well propel my ship toward it, even when the winds of faith and hope slack off, and the great “Sail of Desire” hangs limply from the mast, as useless as a rag.
With its sails furled, this ship is propelled along over a calm sea by a powerful motor.
1. How beautiful is a great white sail swollen with a strong wind blowing constantly! Our ship cuts rapidly through the waters of life, with agility and confidence, and we feel excited, joyful, even euphoric. Caressed by favorable breezes, we smile and sing, enjoying good days and peaceful nights.
2. But, it would behoove us to have taken the precaution of installing a good, powerful, reliable motor in the hull of our ship, less the winds cease to blow. If that should occur, the “Calms of Depression” could beset us, and there would be no forward motion. Or, perhaps bad storms might suddenly surprise us, rending our lovely main sail, as well as any other sail we might have raised. The “Duty Motor” is hard to the touch, maybe not very pretty and can be noisy. Nevertheless, when started, it makes the “Propeller of Necessity” turn, thus, potentially, saving any on board from fearful dangers, even from death itself! And this certainly applies, metaphorically, to the spiritual life.
H. Have you developed within yourself a very powerful sense of “Duty?” Have I? Of “being obligated,” of being “constrained,” as the apostle Paul expresses it in 2 Corinthians 5:14? He says: “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge that if One died for all then all were dead.” If you do not already have a “Duty Motor” for your life, we respectfully urge you to seriously consider, intelligently and maturely, its vital importance, get your own and secure it in place in the ship of your Soul-Spirit, so that you can turn it on when you need it!
In general, youth has little appreciation for “Duty,” especially, moral duty.
For the majority, “Desire” trumps “Duty” in most situations.
II. Obtaining a robust sense of “Duty” early in life is most wise and prudent, for thus can the “Duty Motor” carry out its key function, and very usefully too, across the stages of adolescence, adulthood and the mature years.
A. With considerable concern, we observe that youth in general has little appreciation for “Duty,” particularly, moral duty. The great majority of adolescents and young adults do not at all like the word “Duty.” It projects strong nuances of “hardness, coldness, unwelcome demands.” It does not possess characteristics of “softness, warmth, sweetness or an easy going, undemanding, hands off attitude.”
1. It implies “obligation,” “responsibility.” These words, in turn, connote “limitations, restrictions.” Who likes to be obligated by someone; to be forced, driven, coerced? It is well known that the average human being strongly and tenaciously resists being obligated, compelled, chained to whatever it may be.
2. Expressions such as: “You should…” “You should NOT…” “It is your duty…” “We should…” “You are obligated to…,” directed to fathers, mothers, grandparents, teachers or other persons of supposed authority, to children, adolescents or young adults, frequently provoke small explosions, if not great and violent ones, in their hearts and minds. Bulging eyes emit sparks of rebellion, while flames of resentment burn in the heart, and out of the mouth come exclamations such as:
“Don’t speak to me of duty! Don’t pronounce that word in my presence! I hate it! Who do you think you are? Talking to me about obligations. About my duty.” Those less respectful inject course words, even curse words, in their fiery replies.
Some people of this mentality are capable of becoming highly indignant when they are called into account regarding “their duty.” Of becoming dangerously aggressive, even of physically harming the person, or persons, confronting them. Children to parents, or grandparents. Students to teachers. Young citizens, even older ones, to law enforcement officials of all kinds. Employees to supervisors. Etcetera.
B. To tell the truth, not only young people, but almost all of us human beings obstinately resist the idea of duty. And even more so when third parties confront us with “our duty,” whether they have some power over us, or not; some social-moral relationship that would presuppose their natural right to advise us on “our duty,” or actually demand we fulfill it.
1. Very definitely, we are not docile in the presence of “Duty.” We are proud creatures, lovers of personal liberties. We ferociously defend our individual independence and give no quarter in our fight to keep anyone from laying on us the hateful “yoke of duty.”
2. This despising of “Duty,” so characteristic of our race, generally works to our detriment. An observation confirmed by even a summary analysis of our human condition, which quickly uncovers an insidious evil that leaves multitudes in a multifaceted poverty, to wit: Comparatively few people really and sincerely value the full, certified significance of “obligation, responsibility, duty,” harvesting the multiple benefits of these vigorous qualities.
This great evil plays havoc with governments, educational institutions, professions of all kinds, commercial enterprises, neighborhoods and even churches. “It is my sacred duty to comply fully and honestly with my roll… my task… my work,” words often heard on the lips of politicians, educators, business leaders, social workers and ministers of Christ. But, there is often a great gulf between saying it and doing it. Those who fail to fulfill their “Duty” become losers in many ways, also robbing others of benefits or blessings they otherwise would have received.
3. True it is that the “yoke of duty” is often not easy to bear. It aggravates us. It tires us. It makes us sweat. It rubs us where it hurts. Sometimes, it torments us. But, if we take it voluntarily because we understand its vital function in life, it becomes less onerous. And this is so, I think, for all facets of life, including the spiritual, for if I accept voluntarily, even gladly, “the yoke of spiritual duty” designed for me, not by professional ecclesiastics enslaved to vain traditions or exploiting pastors who love my money, but by the loving God who is seeking my eternal salvation, I will be able to bear it with less wear and pain.
“Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30).
III. “Duty” plays a key roll in the development of a sound, whole, mature character.
A. The absence of a sense of duty in any human being results in the formation of a weak, immature character. The same occurs if the sense of duty is diluted, very imprecise or distorted. Without a doubt, the person who pays no attention to duty, to responsibilities or obligations, is more prone to bog down under the pressures and demands of this life. Such a person exposes himself, or herself, to serious psychological disorders, even to the splintering of personality. There is also a notable tendency to become involved in grave social and financial problems, the bitter fruits of not fulfilling duties that, naturally and logically, should not be dismissed casually. For instance:
1. The duty of the person who gets married is to make the marriage last through thick and thin, “in sickness or in health, in poverty or in prosperity,” as the vow goes.
2. The duty of a woman and a man who procreate a child is to provide for the human being they have brought into the world. In every aspect of his existence: material, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual.
3. He, or she, who purchases an automobile, a house, furniture, a business or whatever it may be, is duty bound to pay any debt incurred in the transaction.
4. The duty of anyone who accepts a job, position or responsibility is to faithfully fulfill the stipulations of the contract.
5. Anyone who does not fulfill his just duty causes a torrent of criticisms, denouncements, social entanglements, legal procedures, and worse, to flood his life. His heart and mind suffer, or, at least, should. His body suffers. His loved ones suffer. And all because duty was not dutifully fulfilled.
C. What the steel structure is to a building, duty is to the character of the human being. It is the essential structural component that gives strength, sustains weight and makes it possible to withstand storms, great or small.
IV. A strong sense of “Duty” assures he fulfillment of responsibilities.
A. If the sense of duty is sufficiently strong, it makes us fulfill our responsibilities, of whatever category they may be: studies, engagement to marry, marriage itself, home, work, neighbors and also the church, that is to say, the spiritual life.
B. Following is a simple example having to do with the church of Christ. The duty of every Christian is to attend worship services (Hebrews 10:25). “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…” is an exhortation that imposes on us the duty to assemble ourselves together.
1. “I desire to attend. My will is to be present for all the meetings and activities of the congregation.” These are noble sentiments held by perhaps a majority of those who profess to be Christians, but the real practice of a great many differs notably from their sentiments, for they attend only sporadically.
2. On the other hand, a good, strong sense of “Duty” assures the fulfillment of the responsibility to assemble, even when “Desire” or “Will” are weak. “It is my sacred duty to assemble. I am obligated to. I am formally and publicly committed to attending regularly.”
3. Personifying “Desire” and “Will,” we can set it down as a fact that they are not always robust, constant, reliable.
4. Just about any kind of material kind of circumstance in this life can disorient “Desire” and “Will.” Tiredness, lack of sleep, light, physical pains, family disagreements, unsavory moments, worries caused by social situations, work, finances, etc.
a) Sleepy “Desire” takes a furtive look at the clock, turns over and stays in bed, snoring, while “Will” dreams with the angels.
b) On the contrary, “Duty,” with a stern, insistent voice, says: “Get up! It is time to get ready for the worship service.”
c) To the which “Physical Body” replies: Oh, for heaven’s sake, I don’t feel well! I’m tired. Leave me in peace.” But, “Duty” will not be quiet; does not give up, and that is precisely his strong suit, his intrinsic value. He responds imperiously: “Get up, you lazy complainer! You have to do it. It is the right thing to do. It is your obligation. Your sacred duty. Think about your salvation; in God, in your family, in your example before your brethren in Christ.”
d) “Mr. Vigorous Duty,” shakes us with a strong arm, gets us out of bed, dresses us and sends us on our way to the fulfillment of all moral, social, family and spiritual obligations.
V. In the same way, “Duty” propels us, drags us, pushes us, when the road of life becomes very steep and rocky. He sustains us, maintaining us upright. Without his opportune help we would surely go to pieces, fall down and give up.
A. When flaming temptations and hard trials fall on us, like a gang of thieves bent on robbing us of all our spiritual treasures, including the soul itself, we might just give up and die if the duty of resisting did not fortify us. But, “Duty” drives us to fight because we have to. It is our obligation and responsibility. We cannot give in.
B. Here are two examples that affect some Christians, and how “Duty” responds.
1. First example. “The congregation is not growing much; it is small and weak. I feel discouraged. I am thinking about not continuing as a member.” “Duty” replies: “Be quiet, foolish soul. Be strong and courageous. In the good times and the hard. You can never allow yourself to be overcome. Fight the good fight! To your day of departure. Your eternal salvation is at stake.”
2. Second example. “I am seeing a lot of controversy and offenses among the church members. Some brothers and sisters do not get along with each other. Every once in a while, disagreements and dissensions over doctrinal questions come up. And the leadership: So often incompetent. Really, I can’t stand it any longer!”
“Duty,” always wise and invariable in his posture, reprimands the Christian overcome by these situations and perceptions, replying with an authoritative tone: “You have to put up with it! Are you so weak? Are you going to completely abandon the church Christ died for? If you do, you will also have abandoned the salvation of your soul, exposing yourself to eternal rejection. You certainly will find more problems in Hell than in the congregation! Better to strive to resolve conflicts, bring about reconciliation and unify members of the congregation. I am telling you it is your duty! Yes, very definitely: Your sacred duty to stay, look for the good and be a part of it!”
VI. “Duty” guards our souls from moral dangers that threaten to destroy us.
A. It is my sacred duty to live a life of holiness before the God who created me, and before every human being. It is my duty to…
1. Speak the truth.
2. Be honest.
3. Not commit adultery, fornicate, be promiscuous or guilty of any other sexual sin, including that of looking at pornographic material.
4. My duty not to get drunk.
5. Not to use drugs. And the list goes on and on.
B. When I am tempted, “Duty” comes up beside me, that is, if I have prepared him for this situation, ready to protect my heart, mind and spirit, defending me against the wiles of Satan. He rebukes the devil, and then he says to me: “You must not succumb, be defeated, practice sin. You must not poison your marvelous body with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gluttony, illicit sex. Neither cause those who know and observe you to stumble. Above all, you must not offend the God who created you, loves you and wants you to be saved. I tell you: It is your sacred duty!”
A. Any human being can resist the voice of “Duty” so much that he will stop speaking altogether. No one should ever do that!
B. Every human being able to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ should believe, repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38-47).
C. Every Christian should be faithful “unto death” (Revelation 2:10).
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