"DESIRE," the Mainsail
"DUTY," the Trusty Motor
I am, metaphorically, a "Ship of Life" and "DESIRE"
is the name of my Mainsail.
Once past a few preliminaries, this trip can get really exciting! Like sailing along a canal between sidewalks crowded with people, towering buildings on each side, toward an undefined, invisible horizon! So, stay on board with me, would you, not jumping ship just yet.
Significantly, while the very concept of “DUTY” is obnoxious to multitudes of human beings, especially to the younger ones, it figures prominently in King Solomon’s “conclusion” of his decades-long 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. "MAN," generic for every
male and female old enough to be responsible for his or her words and actions.
The great teacher Jesus Christ alludes to the "duty" of his disciples in Luke 17:10. “So likewise you, when you 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.”
In Job 33:23-25, Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, pronounces the following words for the sorely 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 says, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” “…what is right” for “man” certainly implies “DUTY” on the part of "man" (generic for all human beings) to do “what is right.” Interestingly, "what is right" is translated “su deber,” literally, “his duty,” in the widely used 1960 Reina Valera version in Spanish.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “Duty” as:
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
As much as for the human being’s emotional, mental, and physical health on Earth as for his existence after the death of his fleshly body, “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 length 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, indeed, practically unstoppable.
A strong sense of “Duty,” defined precisely and nourished constantly in the very heart and soul of my own being, sustains me, taking me forward, even when “Desire” weakens and dies down, even to zero.
I would compare “Desire” to a great sail that fills, at times, with the winds of real, strong faith and secure hopes; at other times, with the light breezes of wishes, illusions, or dreams that blow erratically.
I am a "Ship of Life" and “Desire” is the name of my great mainsail. I left port when I was born and I navigate over the marvelous “Seas of Time and Space,” though frequently storm-tossed, toward the harbor I have selected, with the power of "Captain" to change course and destiny if I would like to or simply float along aimlessly, without purpose or a port in mind.
Sailing serenely along the coast of
the Dominican Republic.
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 sails furled, a powerful motor propels this ship along over a calm sea.
How beautiful and stirring 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.
But, it would behoove us to have taken the precaution of installing a good, powerful, reliable motor in the hull of our ship, lest 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 mainsail, as well as any other sail we might have raised. The “Duty Motor”
is hard to the touch, maybe not at all pretty, and can be noisy. Nevertheless, when started, it makes the “Propeller of Necessity” turn, thus, potentially, saving any onboard from fearful dangers, even from death itself! And this certainly applies, metaphorically, to the spiritual life.
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 constrains 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!
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.
With considerable concern, we observe that youth, in general, have 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.”
It implies “obligation,” “responsibility.” These words, in turn, connote “limitations,"
In general, youth have little appreciation for “Duty,” especially, moral duty. For the majority, “Desire” trumps “Duty” in most situations. The “desires of the flesh” and “eyes” are often their “main and secondary sails.”
"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.
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.
"Nobody, but nobody, is telling me
what to do, or not do!" "Me either!" "Nor me!"
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.
Very definitely, a great many of us 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 much resented “yoke of duty.” No doubt, almost all who voluntarily go into branches of the military and some of government would be the exception. Also, multitudes of people who willfully, even gladly, submit to the yoke of a religion they hold sacred.
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. However, 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.
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 you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:28-30
Glad you are still onboard. Docking shortly!
“Duty” plays a key roll in the building of a sound, whole, mature character.
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.
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.
The highly developed, intricate concept and sense of “Duty,” how did they come to exist in this world? Intellectual atheists will surely try to prove that Darwinian evolution produced them over eons of infinite mutations on ever-evolving levels of consciousness and intelligence. However, it would not surprise me that nagging, suppressed doubts about the
sensibleness and validity of such a thesis would stir in the deep regions of their psyche.
My own conclusion is that the Creator-God, who demonstrates he has them to the highest, most selfless degree, passes them on to us and the angels among the attributes which make it possible for us to be like him. “God made man in his own likeness. In the likeness of God he made him.” Genesis 1:26-27; Colossians 3:9-10. “Duty,” like love, respect, honesty, truthfulness, and justness, figures so rationally in that “likeness” of God.
Arriving at that conviction, I held it to be my “duty” to be immersed in water, that is, baptized, “for the forgiveness of sins,” having duly confessed publicly my faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and repented of my sins. Acts 2:37-47; Mark 16:15-16
I am, metaphorically, a “Ship of Life,” my Mainsail is “Desire,” I have my “Duty Motor” in place, and my Desire, Purpose, and Goal are to arrive at the fantastic port “of the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Hebrews 12:22
How about you? Your company would be most welcome.
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Este tema en ESPAÑOL. http://www.editoriallapaz.org/sermon_el_deber_del_hombre.htm
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