17. A Poor Caliber Is No Excuse
By Zhuiqiu, China
In the past, every time I was faced with some difficulties when performing my duty, or did my work badly, I thought it was because my caliber was too poor. As a result, I often lived in a negative, passive state. I would frequently use my poor caliber as an excuse to offload duties I felt hard onto other people, and felt there was nothing wrong with this, that I was thinking of the church work when I asked other people to do something because my caliber was poor, and I couldn’t do it well. It was only thanks to reading the words of God that I turned this erroneous view around, realizing that I was looking at things through my own conceptions and imaginings. I also learned something about my own corrupt disposition.
One day, our leader asked us to write a letter to support a sister. The sister I was teamed up with was busy with something else, so she asked me to handle it. I quickly started making excuses: “My caliber is too poor. I’m bad at writing and editing text. It would be better if you handle it.” Thus did I automatically push anything tricky onto my partner. Later, she said to me, “Right from when we met, you’ve been saying your caliber is poor. But after being with you for a few days I’ve noticed you’re capable of finding some problems in the work. I don’t think your caliber is that poor, but whenever you’re faced with any difficulty in performing your duty, you always say your caliber’s poor, and sometimes you even push your duty onto someone else. I don’t know what your motivation in always going on about how your caliber is poor is—it feels to me like you’re being really fake!” Hearing her say this, I was speechless, but my heart was filled with antipathy: “When I say my caliber’s poor, I’m telling the truth. You don’t know the facts, and you’ve misunderstood me.” Afterward, I mulled over why the sister had said that. I wasn’t lying when I said my caliber was poor—how could she say I had motivations? In my heart, I just couldn’t figure it out.
Once, during assembly with my co-workers, I opened up about my confusion to the other brothers and sisters. I went through the reasons why I thought my caliber was poor, one by one: For example, I typed really slowly, my writing style wasn’t very good. When we worked on texts, my partner did most of the typing and editing, and when it came to the church work, she found problems really quickly, whereas I was slower, and so on. After hearing what I said, our leader Brother Liu said, “Sister, is it upon these things that we measure whether someone’s caliber is good or poor? Is it in line with the truth? Is it in line with God’s will? We all know that people in the world value gift and brain very much. Whoever is quick-witted, articulate, and proficient at handling matters of the outside world is a person of good caliber, while those who are clumsy of speech, ignorant and ill-educated are seen as having poor caliber; that’s how the unbelievers see it. We who believe in God should look at things based on the words of God. Have we sought God’s will in this matter? Upon what basis does God measure whether people’s caliber is good or poor? And just what is good and poor caliber?” I was shaking my head, and Brother Liu continued fellowshiping: “Let us read a passage of God’s words: ‘How do we measure people’s caliber? The most accurate way is to measure their caliber based on the degree to which they understand the truth. Some people can learn some specialism very quickly, but when they hear the truth, they become muddled and they doze off, it baffles them, nothing they hear goes in, nor do they understand what they are hearing—that is what poor caliber is. With some people, you tell them they are of poor caliber and they disagree. They think that being highly educated and knowledgeable means they are of good caliber. Does a good education demonstrate high caliber? It does not. People’s caliber is measured based on the degree to which they understand God’s words and the truth. This is the most standard, the most accurate way of doing it. There is no use in trying to measure someone’s caliber by any other means. Some people are silver-tongued and quick-witted, and they are really good at getting on with others—but when they read God’s words and listen to sermons, they understand nothing. When they speak of their own experiences and testimony, they reveal themselves to be mere amateurs, and all can feel that they have no spiritual understanding. These are not people of good caliber’ (“Understanding the Truth Is Crucial to Fulfilling One’s Duty Properly” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). From these words of God, we see that whether someone’s caliber is good or poor depends on their ability to understand God’s words. This is not what the unbelievers mean when they say someone has a good caliber or is gifted and smart. People who are of good caliber can understand God’s will when they finish reading His words, they can find a path to practice and enter into the truth, and are able to practice according to what God asks. On the other hand, there are those who seem very smart and are great at handling matters of the outside world—but they’re confounded as soon as they’re faced with the truths of God’s words. Such people cannot be said to be of good caliber. It’s like how some knowledgeable, educated people seem gifted and brainy on the outside, yet are incapable of understanding the truths of God’s words. Some of them even have a ridiculous perspective on things. And so, being highly educated, quick-witted, and capable is not representative of good caliber, nor are these the standards by which someone’s caliber is measured. What’s key is whether people understand the spirit, whether they are capable of understanding the truth. We cannot rely on our own conceptions and imaginings to measure whether someone’s caliber is good or poor!” Hearing this, I suddenly saw the light: It turned out my beliefs were nothing but my own conceptions and imaginings—they did not conform to the truth.
Next, a sister found two passages of God’s words and asked me to read them. God’s words say: “How God treats people does not hinge on how old they are, what kind of environment they were born in, or how talented they are. Rather, He treats people based on their attitude toward the truth, and this attitude is related to their dispositions. If you have a correct attitude regarding the truth, one of acceptance and humility, then even if you are of poor caliber, God will still enlighten you and allow you to gain something. If you are of good caliber but are always arrogant, constantly thinking that you are right, and are unwilling to accept anything anyone else says and are always resisting it, then God will not work in you. He will say that this person has a bad disposition and is not worthy of receiving anything, and He will even take away what you once had. This is what is known as being exposed” (“Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Possess Normal Humanity” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). “When one can be serious, responsible, dedicated, and hard-working, the work will be done properly. Sometimes, you do not have such a heart, and you cannot find or discover a mistake that is clear as day. Were one to have such a heart, then, with the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit, they would be able to identify the issue. But if the Holy Spirit guided you and gave you such awareness, allowing you to sense that something is wrong, yet you did not have such a heart, you would still be incapable of identifying the problem. So, what does this show? It shows that it is very important that people cooperate; their hearts are very important, and where they direct their thoughts and intentions is very important. God scrutinizes and can see what people hold in their hearts as they perform their duty, and how much energy they exert. It is crucial that people put all their heart and strength into what they do. Cooperation, too, is a crucial component. Only if people strive to have no regrets about the duties they have completed and the things they have done, and not to be in debt to God, will they be acting with all their heart and strength” (“How to Solve the Problem of Being Careless and Perfunctory When Performing Your Duty” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). After I read God’s words, the sister said, “God’s words show that our attitude when performing our duty is very important—it’s crucial. If we have the right mentality, if we can give all our heart and energy to performing our duty, God will see, and will treat us according to our attitude toward our duty. Even if we are of poor caliber, God will still enlighten and guide us. If we are of good caliber, but we do not have the right mentality, and are not willing to pay a price and cooperate with God, or if we are arrogant and hold to ourselves, or work only to gain fame and fortune, then not only will we not perform our duty properly, but will also be rejected by God. This is God’s righteousness. If we look at the brothers and sisters around us through the words of God, we see that some are of ordinary caliber but have the right motivation in performing their duty; faced with difficulty, they take it upon themselves to seek the truth, and focus on entry into principles, and they become increasingly effective in performing their duty. Whereas there are some brothers and sisters who seem to us to be of especially good caliber, and who have a pure understanding of God’s words, but they are conceited, self-satisfied, don’t listen to other people’s advice, and take God’s glory for themselves whenever they have some small success in performing their duty. They show themselves off every chance they got, struggling for profit and fame. Some disrupt the work of the church and are stripped of their eligibility to perform their duty; some become antichrists after committing many evil acts and are expelled from the church. These facts show us that whether a person’s caliber is good or poor doesn’t determine whether they are praised by God; what’s key is whether or not they pursue the truth and do their duties with their whole heart and mind.”
Next, the brothers and sisters drew upon their own experiences to talk about the dangers and consequences of defining themselves according to their own conceptions and imaginings. Only then did I realize how stupid not understanding the truth was; I had not sought the truth, and had instead defined myself to be of poor caliber by living in my conceptions and imaginings, to the point that I often pushed difficult duties onto other people. I didn’t try to improve, nor did I rely on God or actually pay a price to break through these barriers, which even made me incapable of performing the duties I was capable of. I was not only incapable of actual training, or growing in the truth and the life, but this directly influenced my effectiveness in performing my duty. I thought about how quickly the sister I worked with was able to find problems. Though this was connected to her inherent caliber, more important was that, because of her conscientious and responsible attitude toward her duty, she was able to rely on God and face difficulties head-on when she came across them. Only then was she enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. I, on the other hand, tried to avoid problems when I encountered them, and used poor caliber as an excuse to let myself off the hook. I didn’t rely on God and take it upon myself to try and solve the problem by seeking the relevant truth, which meant I was not able to gain the Holy Spirit’s work. From this, I saw that God is fair and righteous to all. Through fellowship, I also recognized that God asks of us based on what we are capable of. It is not a case of Him “herding ducks onto a perch.” I should do right by myself; instead of paying attention to my caliber, I should focus only on putting all my energy into performing my duty. I should seek and contemplate the principles of the truth, learn from the strengths of others, listen to other people’s advice, and incorporate it into what I actually practiced—and over time, I would be sure to benefit and grow.
Afterward, the sister’s criticism of me echoed in my ears: “I don’t know what your motivation in always going on about how your caliber is poor is.” She was right—I was always quick to say my caliber was poor. What motivations and corrupt disposition were secretly controlling me?
One day, I read these words of God: “You should examine yourself carefully to see whether you are a correct person. Are your goals and intentions made with Me in mind? Are all your words and actions said and done in My presence? I examine all of your thoughts and ideas. Do you not feel guilty? You put on a false front for others to see and you calmly assume an air of self-righteousness; you do this to shield yourself. You do this to conceal your evil, and you even think up ways to push that evil onto someone else. What treachery dwells in your heart!” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, I began to reflect on myself: When faced with a duty I had never done before, the first thing I would do was tell the other brothers and sisters that my caliber was poor, because I was afraid they would think little of me if I did the duty badly. I did this for the sake of my own fame and status. The implication was, it’s not my fault if I do it badly; it’s not that I haven’t put all my energy into it, but that it’s beyond my caliber. Whenever I encountered any difficulty in performing my duty, I was unwilling to suffer and pay a price to face it head-on. I was afraid of responsibility, too. So I just used my poor caliber as an excuse to push my duties onto someone else, to make them think I was rational and self-aware. Almost every time I had to suffer hardship and pay a price or had to shoulder some responsibility, I’d step back. Actually, I was living by the satanic interpersonal philosophy of “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes.” It seemed pretty smart—using my own devious means to avoid responsibility—but in actuality I had missed out on many opportunities to seek and understand the truth. In fact, the caliber that God gives each one of us is fit for purpose; yet I had not exerted all my heart and energy based on what I was capable of achieving, in order to gain the work of the Holy Spirit and do my duty well; instead, I always used my poor caliber as an excuse for not practicing the truth, to try to trick and deceive God. Is this not so crafty, so evil? And how could I be guided by God thus?
God’s words say, “‘Though my caliber is low, I have an honest heart.’ When most people hear this line, they feel good, don’t they? This matter involves God’s requirements of people. What requirements? If people are lacking in caliber, it is not the end of the world, but they must possess an honest heart and, as such, will be able to receive God’s praise. No matter what your situation, you must be an honest person, speak honestly, act honestly, be able to perform your duty with all your heart and mind, and be faithful, and you must not shirk your work, be sly or deceitful, be crafty, try to outwit others, or talk in circles; you must be a person who loves the truth and pursues the truth. … You say, ‘My caliber is low, but I am honest at heart.’ When a duty falls to you, however, you are afraid of suffering or that if you do not fulfill it well, you will have to bear the responsibility, so you make excuses to shirk it and recommend others to do it. Is this an expression of an honest person? It clearly is not. How, then, should an honest person behave? They should accept and obey, and then be utterly devoted in doing their duties to the best of their ability, striving to meet God’s will. This is expressed in several ways. One way is that you should accept your duty with honesty, not think about anything else, and not be half-hearted about it. Do not plot for your own benefit. This is an expression of honesty. Another way is putting all your strength and heart into it. You say, ‘This is everything I can do; I will put it all into play, and dedicate it completely to God.’ Is this not an expression of honesty? You dedicate all you have and all you can do—this is an expression of honesty” (“People Can Only Truly Be Happy by Being Honest” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words offered me a path to practice: God does not care whether people’s caliber is good or poor; what’s key is whether they have a heart that is honest, whether they can accept the truth, and put it into practice. Although my caliber is poor, and I’m a little slower in understanding the truth, and sometimes follow doctrine, if my heart is honest, and I constantly pursue the truth to resolve my corrupt disposition as I perform my duty, if I do all I can to carry out what God asks, then I shall receive God’s guidance and blessings, and will gradually be able to understand the truth. As I enter the truth I will be able to make up for my shortcomings with regard to my poor caliber, and I will get better and better at understanding and seeing things. After understanding God’s will, I began to rely on God to get better when I performed my duty. No longer did I offload the things that were not evident to me, that I didn’t understand, onto other people, but tried hard to seek and work them out for myself. Thanks be to God! When I practiced as God asks, I too was able to see problems in my duty—and although there were times when relatively complex issues remained unclear to me, by searching for the principles of the truth with the brothers and sisters, they gradually became apparent to me, and I felt lighter and more liberated when I performed my duty.
Thanks to experiencing the environment set out for me by God, I gained some knowledge of my corruption and shortcomings, and became aware of how to face issues to do with my caliber. When I was performing my duty in the past, I did not focus on seeking the truth, nor did I try to address my corrupt disposition. I always saw things through my own conceptions and imaginings, which led me to often delineate myself, and to try to get out of things by saying my caliber was poor. My performance of duty was full of perfunctoriness, I held up the work of the church, and suffered loss in my own life. Now I understand that everyone’s caliber is preordained by God and is part of God’s glorious intentions. I should not be constrained by whether my caliber is good or poor. In the future, I will try to seek the truth in all things, act with principle, and be someone honest to satisfy God.