Difference between a duty and serving others

Lenten thoughts about the benefits of self-sacrifice
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1. Why isn’t it enough if we carry out our duties well? Man is a social being. One of the primary benefits of a community is the division of labor. Sharing work results in duties. Why isn’t it enough though if we carry out all duties well? A task-oriented life is operated by an “external control”. A task-centered man never reaches the wonderful level of self-motivation that invents new solutions again and again Task-centered man is always anxious. He cannot decide whether he completed the task well enough or not. A task-centered life is a trap. It is a trap because it closes us into our own egos and it is a trap because it closes us into the often limited community defined by ourselves. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

2. The power of serving others. In what way does serving others differ from a duty? Serving others is not controlled externally but it is arisen from Christ living in us and it returns there, too. The essence of serving others is to open our most important inner self, the love of Christ living in us, to others. Serving others is unselfish, gives vision and makes us unbelievably creative. Serving others is a huge power because it empowers our lives by the largest power of the Universe, the love of God, and passes this immense love to everyone and everything around us. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

3. Self-sacrifice as the Door of Totality. What do we need to be able to serve others? Our own power is not enough for that. It is enough only for carrying out our duties. For the service we have to find Jesus living in us. It is not an easy task. We have to break the hardened shell of our own egos to see what is behind it. It is worth doing that. To break our egos is the most important event of our lives because behind it the Door opens which is not anything else but Jesus Himself who leads us to the love of God (John 10:9). (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 


 

 

Introduction. As I wrote in my first essay in September, I will go along a whole course of a spiritual retreat with my essays until summer. With the Christmas post we have arrived at the end of the first week of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: Christ may have been born within us, we may have been given places in the House of God and we may have realized that we were the Children of God. My four essays covering the second week of the spiritual retreat confronted us with our sins. Both our community sins and our own personal sins have been examined, we have thought about the conditions of our good choices, and we have answered the question what is the most important decision of our whole lives. Until the coming summer we will go along the second two weeks of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: praying throughout the whole earth life of Christ, our Lord.

-----------------we reached this point in our prayer--------------------------------------------------------

 

1. Why isn’t it enough if we carry out our duties well?

 

Man is a social being. One of the primary benefits of a community is the division of labor. Sharing work results in duties. If we carry out our life duties well, we will become useful members of our communities. Obedience, sense of duty and willingness to serve are important virtues. Why isn’t it enough though if we carry out all duties well? A task-oriented life is operated by an “external control”. A task-oriented person awaits for the task, tries to accomplish it, and then takes a rest and awaits for the next duty. It is woefully sad not only because such a task-centered man never reaches the wonderful level of self-motivation that invents new solutions again and again making the result much more valuable than if he would have only considered the originally intended solution of the task during the whole accomplishment. The real trouble about a task-centered man is that he is always anxious. He cannot decide whether he completed the task well enough or not. He becomes totally exposed to his environment’s judgement. He spends his whole life watching every little sign to figure out how much he is appreciated by others – i.e. whether he has accomplished his tasks successfully according to the consent of the community. Anxiety can be decreased by the pursuit of success or money. A task-centered man is often a member of the ‘favor-bank’ where he manages thousands of bank accounts in his mind labelled as “what favor does he owe me?” or “what favor do I owe him?”. It is a hard job to live as a task-centered man… But this is still not the largest problem. The real problem with the task-centered life is that it is a trap. It is a trap because it closes us into our own egos and it is a trap because it closes us into the often limited community defined by ourselves.

 


 

2. The power of serving others

In what way does a serving others differ from a duty? Most duties are, in fact, services. It was not by mistake that willingness to serve has been listed in the previous paragraph’s virtues beside the sense of duty and obedience. These are really important virtues. Why is it still different if we would like to fill our lives with services instead of successfully accomplished duties? Serving others is not controlled externally but it is arisen from Christ living in us and it returns there, too. The most important part of serving others is not the action itself. It is only a consequence. Serving others means to become and remain open to good deeds. The essence of serving others is to open our most important inner self, the love of Christ living in us, to others. The ultimate target of serving others is not the other man. Not even the created world as a whole. Serving others serves everything and everybody as God’s creatures, carriers of the love of God. It is how serving others coming from Christ living in us returns to Christ living in others. Actions or tasks emerge from this circle of love just as beautifully as flowers blossom in early spring. Serving others gives vision. Serving others makes us see the love living in others even if it is hidden under a thousand shells. Serving others sets the love free living in others from under the fossilized crusts covering it. Serving others makes us feel the hidden suffering of others. Serving others provides strength to carry others’ burdens because we never have to carry that burden alone. Jesus always stands beside us and takes just as much of it as we ourselves cannot handle. Serving others makes us unbelievably creative. The power of Jesus’ love lighting from us breaks every social convention, every rule and situation, and it shows the best and most effective way through the most amazing solutions. Serving others makes us selfless. The serving person does not measure the size of his impact because the joy he feels when he gives love assures him entirely about what he does is good. The essence of this joy and its real intensity comes from inside. Our own happiness is incomprehensibly little compared with the joy what the Holy Trinity living in us feels if we link it to the Holy Trinity living in others. The Glory of God shines through these connections to our Earth. Serving others is a huge power because it empowers our lives by the largest power of the Universe, the love of God, and passes this immense love to everyone and everything around us.

 


 

3. Self-sacrifice as the Door of Totality
 

 

What do we need to be able to serve others? Our own power is not enough for that. It is enough only for carrying out our duties. For serving others we have to find Jesus living in us. It is not an easy task. We have to break the hardened shell of our own egos to see what is behind it. It is worth doing that. To break our egos is the most important event of our lives because behind it the Door opens which is not anything else but Jesus Himself who leads us to the love of God (John 10:9). Breaking our egos brings us to humility, too. As I wrote it earlier humility makes us open to approach Jesus. Breaking our own egos is the same as what Apostle Paul describes like: "And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20); "For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.” (Romans 8:13).

 

 

 

Let’s spare a few silent moments of our day. Let’s think in our prayer about what willingness to serve and what humility Holy Mary should have had to accept the birth of Jesus? What humility Saint Joseph should have had to accept all this and to rescue his whole family to Egypt at once? What humility should both of them have had to raise God’s only-begotten Son, who at the age of 12 was already aware of that "did you not know, that I must be about my Father's business” (Luke 2:49b). Finally: what humility should Jesus have had not to baptize John the Baptist but to surrender himself baptized by John the Baptist? What a beautiful ecstatic joy of the Father is when after the baptism He sends the Holy Spirit to Jesus and says directly: "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22b). Let’s think about all this in our prayer as services. They have been services that had connected the love living in the Holy Trinity with the created world. Let’s feel the beauty and mercy of that we can also take part in this service. Let’s long for this. Let’s ask for this. If we ask for all this wholeheartedly, amazing things will start to happen…

 

 

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