God’s Words Changed Me
By Pingfan, China
In the winter of 2018, the church put me on writing duty. I thought that since I’d done that before and I knew the basics, I’d do a good job. Once I was in the team, I saw that the documents were different. I didn’t have a grasp on the principles for editing them, so I prayed to God and sought the truth every time I worked on a document, considered it based on the principles, and consulted with other sisters when I wasn’t sure about something. I was also receptive to their suggestions about the articles I’d edited. After some time, I had gained a grasp on some of the principles and my edited texts were being used as examples for others’ reference. The sisters in my team admired me, and I felt very pleased with myself, too. I thought, “I’ve achieved so much in so little time here. Looks like my caliber is no worse than the other sisters, and I have a better foundation in writing.” One day, our team leader asked me to take care of a few drafts that were more difficult. Not only did I not feel put out, but I reveled in it, thinking that I’d gotten the more difficult ones because I was more capable than the other sisters, and that the team leader valued me more. I became more arrogant over time. I stopped consulting the sisters I worked with when I hit a roadblock, thinking they wouldn’t have any good ideas, anyway. I’d just figure it out on my own. When checking the documents revised by my sisters, I stopped asking for their opinion, but just decided things on my own. I remember one time when I checked a document that one of the sisters had revised, I just unilaterally decided to edit a portion I found unsuitable, without checking in with her. She had a different idea that she wanted to discuss with me, but I just gave her a disdainful look and thought, “You’ve been here no time at all. You think you know the principles better than me? I’d never change it without a reason, and you’d be better off listening to me.” I said to her sharply, “I’ve edited lots of these documents. I definitely haven’t gone wrong in this.” Seeing I wouldn’t budge, she didn’t say anything more. When our team leader reviewed this document later, she pointed out that, according to the principles, the change I’d made was wrong, and told me I should take the principles more seriously in future. I still didn’t reflect on myself after that, but figured it wasn’t a big deal, and I could just pay a little more attention.
Two months later, our team leader was transferred to another team and the church leader had me take on our team’s work provisionally. I agreed readily and started sizing things up: “I’m most familiar with the principles and most productive on this team. I’m the only one who’s up to the task.” From then on, whenever the sisters in the team ran into a problem in their duty, I’d always help them. I started to feel like I could solve anything. Once when Sister Yang found something difficult in a document and I went to take a look, I said condescendingly, “Isn’t this a simple problem? Just reorganize it, and it’ll be fine.” Before long, she came back and said, “Arranging it the way you said doesn’t work. I don’t think that’s the issue. It’s more that the fellowship on the truth is shallow.” I wasn’t too happy to hear this, and thought, “I was the one who chose this article. What could be wrong with it? It is a little shallow, but it’s practical. It’ll be beneficial for people. Evidently, you don’t understand the principles and you lack judgment. I’ve been doing this duty for a long time. Would I really misjudge such a straightforward article? You’re casting doubt on my abilities, aren’t you?” Disgruntled, I walked over to her computer, grabbed her mouse, scanned through the article, then quickly told her what I thought. She frowned a bit and said quietly, “I feel that even with your approach, the problem will remain. Maybe we should ask our leader.” I shot a look at her, thinking, “You still just don’t get it. Can someone of your caliber do this duty well?” I responded brusquely, “Go to the leader for something so small? If you really can’t pull this together, let me do it.” I saw that she was hanging her head without saying a word. I did feel kind of bad, and that it wasn’t a loving way to treat a sister, but still I never sought the truth or reflected on myself to address my own problem. The sisters in the team gradually stopped coming to me with their questions, and when discussing documents, nobody dared open their mouth when I didn’t say anything. It was an oppressive atmosphere. I was feeling darker in spirit, I didn’t know what to do with the documents, and our team’s productivity had slipped a lot.
One time in a gathering, Sister Yang said to me, “I’d like to point out a shortcoming to you. Every time you help me with something, you do it in this haughty way, and you get impatient if I ask more questions. I feel really constrained by you.” Another sister chimed in, “I feel that way too. You just act on your own without discussing things with anyone else, and you tend to insist on your own views. You don’t listen to other people’s suggestions. When we see things differently, you won’t let us talk to our leader about it. I feel you’re really arrogant and too self-assured.” I wasn’t really convinced by what they had to say. I thought, “You say I won’t accept your suggestions, that I’m autocratic, but maybe you should do some self-reflection on whether it’s because you don’t have a hold on the principles, and your ideas are no good. If you were right, how could I refuse?”
The next day, the leader attended our team’s gathering. She saw that those two sisters were constrained by me, so she dealt with me, saying, “You’re too arrogant. I had you take on the team’s work, but you’re not helping others out of love or resolving problems in their duty. Instead, you’re stifling them and making everyone do what you say. When other people point out problems in the documents you work on, you don’t take it seriously, but insist that you’re right. You’re dictatorial and overbearing, and you’ve been disruptive to our writing work. For two months now, team members haven’t been in good states and little has been accomplished. If you don’t properly reflect and repent, we’ll have to replace you.” The leader sternly pruning and dealing with me was devastating, especially hearing that I’d disrupted the work of God’s house. My heart trembled and I started crying. I’d wanted to do my duty well and satisfy God. I never thought I’d be doing evil. Over the next few days, whenever I thought about the leader’s rebuke and the other sisters’ criticisms, I felt so upset, it was like a knife going into my heart. I never imagined I’d let my arrogant disposition rule my duty, or that I’d hurt the sisters and damage our work. The more I thought about it, the more regret and guilt I felt. I came before God in reflection.
I then read these words of God: “Do not think that you are a natural talent, only slightly lower than the heavens but far higher than the earth. You are not smarter than anyone else—and it could even be said that you are more adorably silly than any of the people on earth possessed of reason, for you think so highly of yourself, and have never had a sense of inferiority; it seems that you perceive My actions in the tiniest detail. In fact, you are someone who is fundamentally lacking in reason, for you have no idea of what I will do, and much less are you aware of what I am doing now. Thus do I say that you are not even the equal of an old farmer toiling on the land, a farmer who has not the slightest perception of human life and yet depends on the blessings of Heaven as he cultivates the land. You do not spare a second’s thought to your life, you know nothing of renown, and much less have you any self-knowledge. You are so ‘elevated’!” (“Those Who Do Not Learn and Know Nothing: Are They Not Beasts?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “It would be best for you to dedicate more effort to the truth of knowing the self. Why have you not found favor with God? Why is your disposition abominable to Him? Why does your speech arouse His loathing? As soon as you have demonstrated a bit of loyalty, you sing your own praises, and you demand a reward for a small contribution; you look down upon others when you have shown a modicum of obedience, and become contemptuous of God upon accomplishing some petty task. … Knowing full well that you believe in God, you nevertheless cannot be compatible with God. Knowing full well that you are utterly without merit, you persist in boasting all the same. Do you not feel your sense has deteriorated to the point that you no longer have self-control?” (“Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Pondering God’s words, I saw that they revealed my true state. Achieving a little bit in my duty made me think I was really something. I looked down on everyone else and wouldn’t listen to their ideas, instead doing whatever I wanted without any reverence for God. I saw that I really did have an arrogant nature. After starting that duty, I understood some principles and the articles I’d edited were used for reference, and so my arrogance spiraled out of control. I thought I was talented, and better than everyone else. I stopped seeking the principles of the truth in my duty, but relied on my own experience and intelligence. When a sister mentioned my revision was at odds with the principles, I didn’t seek at all, but thought I’d been doing that duty longer, that I knew more, and I couldn’t be wrong. I just overrode her suggestion. When another sister had a different perspective and wanted to seek out our leader, I stood in her way. Problems weren’t resolved in a timely manner and the church’s work was delayed. Through this reflection, I could see that I was arrogant, unreasonable, and totally lacking reverence for God. I showed nothing but a satanic disposition. I’d not only damaged the church’s work, but I’d oppressed and harmed several of my sisters. How was that doing my duty? It turned out, I was doing evil!
Another passage of God’s words came to mind just then: “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you had arrogance and conceit, you would find it impossible to keep from defying God; you would feel compelled to defy Him. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. In the end, you would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature! To resolve their evil acts, they must first resolve the problem of their nature. Without a change in disposition, it would not be possible to bring a fundamental resolution to this problem” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). In light of God’s words, I saw that my failure was rooted in my arrogant, satanic nature. Once I had some success and experience that I could capitalize on in my duty, I put myself on a pedestal, thinking that I was better than everyone else. I looked down on everyone. I was so arrogant, and high and mighty. I even took my own perspectives as the truth, forcing others to accept and submit to them. I didn’t try to seek the truth or obey God at all. I was dictatorial and arbitrary in my duty, so arrogant and dismissive, and God had no place in my heart. I did my duty relying on my arrogant disposition, disrupting the work of God’s house. Being harshly pruned and dealt with by the leader that day finally stopped me in my evil tracks. That was God’s protection and salvation for me. I thought about those antichrists that had been expelled from the church. They all had really arrogant natures, they wanted to be in charge because of their years of experience, and have the final say. They did their duty however they wanted, disregarding the principles of the truth. No one mattered to them. They’d stifle and exclude anyone who dared raise an objection. Ultimately, they were expelled from the church for doing too much evil. I could see that the disposition I was revealing was the same as an antichrist’s, that I was on the path of an antichrist. If I didn’t repent and resolve my arrogant disposition, I’d actually end up becoming one of them. That could only mean ultimately being punished and cursed by God. This thought left me trembling with fear. I felt what a frightening disposition that is, and then felt a bit sickened at the thought of my imperious and despotic manner. I rushed to kneel down before God in prayer, to confess and repent. I didn’t want to live by my arrogant disposition and oppose God anymore.
At the next gathering, I opened up to everyone about my experience and understanding, and said I wanted to start cooperating with everyone to do our duty well. I asked them to keep an eye on me, and if they noticed a problem, I wanted them to remind me right away, to prune and deal with me. In my duty after that, sometimes when others made a suggestion or their views differed from mine, I still felt like I was right, but I didn’t insist the way I had before. I was able to let go of myself and consciously seek the truth. I remember one time, working on a document with a sister, we weren’t seeing eye to eye, and I insisted that my view was correct. She asked me, “What principle are you basing your insistence on?” I was tongue-tied for a moment and my face started burning. I thought, “That’s right. What principle am I considering?” But then I thought, “You’re really not taking me seriously. In any case, I’ve been doing this duty longer than you. How could you talk to me that way?” I wanted to argue with her, but just then I thought about how I’d always been arrogant and uncompromising, always like “I’m the one who gets it,” “As I see it,” and “Do as I say.” That harmed our work. I knew I had to learn that lesson and stop doing things out of arrogance. I thought of these words of God: “Living in this world, there are limits to what people’s brains are capable of or what they themselves can experience. You cannot be a master of all trades; you cannot know everything, understand everything, accomplish everything, learn everything—that is impossible, no one can do that. This is the rationality that normal humanity should possess. And so, no matter what you do, whether it be important or not, there should always be people there to help you, to give you pointers, advice, and to assist you with things. This way, you will do things more correctly, it will be harder to make mistakes, and you will be less likely to go astray—which is all to the good” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance VIII” in Records of Christ’s Talks). It’s true that no one understands everything, and no matter how much someone does know, they’ll always have blind spots and shortcomings, and need other people’s help and advice. Even though I’d accumulated some experience in that duty, my understanding of the truth was shallow, and my grasp of principles limited. I usually just relied on my own thinking and work experience to do my duty. I thought I knew a lot and didn’t have to listen to others. I was totally lacking self-awareness and self-knowledge. When I looked at my sisters, I saw they had hearts of seeking in their duty and could set aside their own ego to seek and discuss things they didn’t understand with others. Their living out was better than mine. I had to let go of myself, learn how to be a sensible person, listen to others’ suggestions, and work well with others in my duty. When I set myself aside and considered the principles, I saw that sister was right. I said to her calmly, “Sister, your idea is in line with the principles of the truth. Let’s do it that way. Your fellowship today made up for my faults. I’m an arrogant person, and I tend to do things my own way. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you see any problems or shortcomings in me.” This practice felt really freeing for me. I didn’t feel like I’d lost anything. Instead, I felt like I’d gained something through fellowship, and I gained more clarity on the principles. In our duty after that, everyone was able to express their own ideas without being constrained by me anymore, and our team’s work took a turn for the better. Thanks be to God! It’s all thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement that my arrogant disposition underwent this small change. Thank God for His salvation for me!