70. A Show-off No More
By Mo Wen, Spain
I remember back in 2018 I was on gospel duty in the church, and later I was put in charge of that work. I was able to see the issues and mistakes in my brothers’ and sisters’ duties and could resolve them through fellowship, so everyone was happy with me, and I had a sense of accomplishment. I began feeling very pleased with myself and that I was better than everyone else. I couldn’t help but show off. I thought, “I make suggestions and resolve people’s problems, and everyone has a good impression of me. If I help them even more, I’ll make myself look even more capable than them. Then they’ll think even more highly of me.” At a gathering one day, Brother Lu said he’d come across a religious co-worker while spreading the gospel. The guy had been a preacher for over 20 years, and was a true believer, but he had strong religious notions. Brother Lu gave him fellowship, but he wouldn’t accept the gospel and Brother Lu didn’t know what to do now. I thought to myself, “This guy is a true believer and wants to hear fellowship. You failed to convert him because you didn’t fellowship on the truth clearly enough. I’ve experienced this kind of thing before, so this is my chance to tell you all about it.” I said to them, “I don’t see the difficulty here. You have to focus on the main points and fellowship clearly. If he’s willing to listen and you resolve his issues, how could he not accept it? Co-worker Zhang used to have lots of notions so I refuted his strongest notion through fellowship and then moved on to the next one. He accepted the gospel in the end. You have to fellowship clearly when testifying to God’s work.” Then I told them about all the problems people I’d preached to had, how I fellowshiped to resolve them, and how they had accepted the gospel. I recounted these experiences in great detail, making sure to include everything, so they would all see how capable I was. Afterward, everyone praised me and a sister said, “You really hit the nail on the head. Why couldn’t I see this?” I said that it was all down to God’s guidance, but inside I felt delighted. Sometimes when we were discussing work, I’d be considering what to say to make everyone think I was considering and analyzing every detail, that I had caliber, was intelligent, and better than others. When it was my turn to weigh in, I would go on and on and the word “I” was always on my lips. “I think this” and “I solved that.” “I, I, I….” I’d list my theories and ideas and analyze them all in detail. As time went on, the others began to depend on me, so they didn’t know to seek principles when problems arose. When discussing work, sometimes they’d ask me to speak first, before adding some things themselves. Sometimes a thought would flash through my mind: “If I carry on like this, will people end up idolizing me?” But then I’d think, “I’m not forcing anyone to listen to me. I’m just stating my views. Anyway, being proactive is a positive and responsible approach.” I didn’t give it much more thought, and just carried on.
We later ran into a lot of difficulties in spreading the gospel and brothers and sisters got quite disheartened. I felt the same way, too. I wanted to open up with everyone about how I felt, but I was the one in charge, so if I became negative so easily, wouldn’t I appear weak? What would the others think of me if they knew my stature was so small? Wouldn’t their good impression of me be destroyed? I wondered, “If I talk about positive entry and lead everyone in a positive way, won’t that get everyone motivated?” So in every fellowship I focused on how I faced the problems I encountered with positivity, how I relied on God through adversity and how I rose to meet the challenge. Everyone thought I had stature and could handle things. They all admired me. Sometimes when discussing work with others, I’d reveal that I was under pressure in my duty, that I was so busy I barely had time to eat or rest so that they’d know how much I suffered. In gatherings, I didn’t ponder God’s words or reflect on myself, but thought only about how to make everyone think my fellowships were profound and weighty. Without realizing it, I’d preach some lofty doctrines and I really reveled in seeing the others’ looks of approval. Over time, some people started to ask me first whenever they had a problem in their duty. Even when they could have resolved it themselves with a little thought, they still sought my opinion first. They’d tell me about their states and their innermost thoughts, and I was very pleased to know they trusted me. As time went on, I appeared to be very busy but I couldn’t feel any enlightenment from the Holy Spirit when reading God’s words. When discussing work with the others, all my suggestions were worthless and I couldn’t see even the most obvious problems in our work. I finally realized that I was in a terrible state. My arrogance was all gone. I used to think I was the bee’s knees, but I suddenly felt like a total moron without anything to show off about. There was a lot of darkness and pain in my spirit.
One day I was talking with two brothers when Brother Su said, “I’ve known you for a while now and you’re always exalting yourself and showing off. You hardly mention your corruptions or faults in fellowship but mostly talk up your good points, which led me to think you’re great and look up to you. When there’s problems in my work, you don’t fellowship on the principles of the truth, but just talk about what you’ve done and how you’ve resolved problems, so I think you’re amazing and better than the rest of us. …” I was totally unwilling to accept this from Brother Su, especially when he said that I was always exalting myself and showing off. These words echoed around in my head. Although I didn’t argue, I felt very resistant to what he’d said. “I never asked you to idolize me. Am I really as bad as you say?” I thought. I just couldn’t accept it, so I asked the other brother what he thought. To my surprise, he said, “You never talk about your corruption or faults. I just don’t get you anymore.” This made me feel even worse. “How can he say he doesn’t get me anymore? Am I so inscrutable?” I really wanted to say something to claw back some dignity, but seeing the two of them prune and deal with me like that, I knew there must be a reason. If what they’d said was true, then I really had a problem!
I wasted no time finding some of God’s words exposing people who exalt and testify to themselves. I read this: “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? One way is to testify to how much they have suffered, how much work they have done, and how much they have expended themselves. That is, they use these things as the currency by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. That is the ultimate effect. Are the things they do to achieve this aim—all their exalting and testifying to themselves—reasonable? They are not. They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, and special skills, or their clever techniques for conducting themselves and the means they use to toy with people. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and failings from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the house of God in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves? Is exalting and testifying to yourself within the rational bounds of normal humanity? It is not. So when people do this, what disposition is usually revealed? Arrogance is one of the chief manifestations, followed by deceitfulness, which involves doing everything possible to make other people hold them in high esteem. Their stories are completely watertight; their words clearly contain motivations and schemes, and they have found a way to hide the fact that they are showing off, but the outcome of what they say is that people are still made to feel that they are better than others, that no one is their equal, that everyone else is inferior to them. And is this outcome not achieved via underhanded means? What disposition is at the heart of such means? And are there any elements of wickedness? This is a kind of wicked disposition. It can be seen that these means they employ are directed by a deceitful disposition—so why do I say it is wicked? What connection does this have to wickedness? What do you think: Can they be open about their aims in exalting and testifying to themselves? (No.) There is always a desire in the depths of their hearts, and what they say and do is in aid of that desire, and so the aims and motivations in the depths of their hearts of what they say and do are kept very secret. They will, for example, employ misdirection or some shady tactics to achieve these aims. Is such secretiveness not sly in nature? And can such slyness not be called wicked? It can indeed be called wicked, and it runs deeper than deceitfulness” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (2)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I thought about how I’d been behaving in my duty: When brothers and sisters had problems, I acted like I was fellowshiping and helping them, talking up how I resolved problems in order to flaunt my prowess in work and make everyone think I was more capable than them. When discussing work, the first word out of my mouth was “I,” to put myself on display, making people think I knew it all so they’d idolize me. I hid my negativity and corruption from the others. I never discussed my own difficulties, much less dissect my corrupt dispositions. Instead, I talked up positive entry to hide my faults, to make others think I had stature and look up to me. I was always talking about how I suffered in my duty and how hard it was so they’d see how devoted I was to my duty. And in gatherings it was clear I had no understanding of God’s words or myself, but I just talked on and on, weaving the fiction that I knew myself so that others would think ever more highly of me. To keep enjoying their esteem and adoration, I went on saying and doing things that seemed right when really I was flaunting myself and showing off, causing others’ hearts to grow apart from God. Wasn’t my behavior caused by the evil disposition revealed in God’s words? Whatever I did or however I appeared to expend myself, my goal was never to do my duty well. I did all I could to consolidate my position, getting the others to idolize me. I was walking the path of the antichrists. I finally realized my own danger so I hurriedly prayed to God, wishing to repent.
These words of God suddenly came to mind: “If one is to live out normal humanity, how should they open themselves up and lay themselves bare? This is done by opening oneself up and clearly showing others the true feelings at the bottom of one’s heart, by being able to practice the truth, simply and purely. If one reveals their corruption, they must be able to know the essence of the problem and to hate and detest themselves from the bottom of their heart. When they lay themselves bare, they will not attempt to justify their behaviors, nor will they try to defend them. … Firstly, one must understand their problems at an essential level, dissect themselves, and lay themselves bare. Secondly, one must have an honest heart and a sincere attitude, and speak of what they can understand of the problems in their disposition. And thirdly, should one feel that their disposition is particularly severe, they must say to all, ‘If I reveal such a corrupt disposition again, rise up, all of you—deal with me, and point it out to me. Don’t pull your punches. I may not be able to bear it at the time, but don’t pay that any mind. Work together to keep an eye on me. If this corrupt disposition flares up seriously, rise up, everyone, to expose me and deal with me. I hope sincerely that everyone will keep an eye on me, help me, and keep me from going astray.’ Such is the attitude with which one practices the truth” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me my direction. However much I understood my problems, I knew I couldn’t go on like that. I had to be honest and lay myself bare to show everyone the motives behind my actions so they could see that I was exalting myself, showing off, and walking the antichrists’ path. This was most important.
In the next gathering, I came totally clean there in front of the brothers and sisters and asked for their help and advice. After being completely open, I felt so much more at ease. The others spent the next few days sending me messages pointing out my issues, saying, “You always show off in your duty. I didn’t want to seek principles in my duty anymore, but just depended on you. I thought you knew it all and it was easier to ask you.” Some of them said, “I haven’t learned anything about God recently, but have just learned to idolize you more, thinking you’re both capable in work and responsible in your duty. I really looked up to you.” Hearing all this was really upsetting for me. I just couldn’t believe that this was what had come of doing my duty all these months. I felt very distressed and unhappy, thinking that God must surely hate me. I really sank low into negativity. But through constantly praying to God and with the others’ help and support, I finally realized that God wasn’t doing this to eliminate me but to cleanse and change me. If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have seen I was on the wrong path. This was God’s great salvation for me! Once I’d understood God’s will, I resolved to reflect on myself and truly repent.
I read some of God’s words: “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “For example, if arrogance and conceit existed within you, 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!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). The revelations in God’s words showed me that it was my arrogant nature that had driven me to seek elevated status in others’ hearts and that I was resisting God. Controlled by this arrogant nature, I began to feel pleased with myself when I saw results in my duty and I exalted myself and showed off however I could. I spoke and acted only to stand out, to display my gifts and abilities. I shamelessly flaunted how I suffered for my duty, how exhausting it was, how I resolved problems, all to make others think I was better than them, that I was extraordinary. I just had to have people look up to me and adore me. Wasn’t this an antichrist’s disposition? Paul was just the same. He was constantly displaying his knowledge and gifts through his preaching and work, showing off to make others admire him. He was always writing letters to the churches showing off about how much he’d worked and suffered for the Lord in order to win over people’s hearts. He worked and toiled not to do his duty well or testify to the incarnate Christ, but to fulfill his own ambitions and desires. No matter how much he worked or suffered, or how many people idolized him, since he didn’t pursue the truth and his head just kept getting bigger, in the end he brazenly testified that he himself was Christ. This seriously offended God’s disposition and God punished him for it. I had just the same nature as Paul. I was so arrogant and conceited, in love with status, always exalting myself and showing off so that everyone would idolize me, there would be no place for God in their hearts and they wouldn’t rely on God or seek the truth when problems arose. Doing my duty this way was resisting God and harming my brothers and sisters. I never thought such evil and resistance to God could come from living by my arrogant nature. If I didn’t repent, sooner or later I would arouse God’s wrath and be punished. Without God’s discipline and the help and support of brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t have reflected on myself. It was God’s righteous disposition and great salvation that led to me being exposed like that.
Thinking about it, when I achieved things in my duty and discovered problems, it all came from God’s enlightenment and guidance. Without the Holy Spirit’s work, I was a fool who couldn’t understand anything. I had no reality of the truth at all, yet I was so arrogant and haughty, shamelessly vying for God’s position. I was so senseless! I didn’t fellowship the truth or testify to God in my duty, but just showed off and misled people—what an evil thing to do! I really began to hate myself then. I didn’t want to carry on that way, so I said a prayer to God: “Dear God, I’ve been so wrong! I see how arrogant and senseless I am. Thank You for giving me the chance to repent. I’ll practice the truth in earnest from now on and get on the right path. Please guide me.”
I then read this in God’s words: “What should one do in order to not exalt and testify to oneself? What are the manifestations, behaviors, and dispositions desired by God that are the opposite to exalting and testifying to oneself? That is, which dispositions and behaviors are in line with the truth and the very opposite of exalting and testifying to oneself? You must dissect and lay yourself bare, and words or ways of speaking that are connected to the intention of exalting and testifying to yourself must change. Are these not details? The subject matter could be the same, but if you speak one way, you will achieve the aim of exalting and testifying to yourself and inspiring veneration in others, whereas if you speak another way, the nature of what you say is different. For example, when opening up about yourself, what kind of wording, language, and the things you say are exalting and testifying to yourself, and what kind of wording is truly laying yourself bare and practicing the truth? (Being overly general, speaking doctrine, and saying empty words is exalting and testifying to oneself, whereas talking of specific expressions and the specifics of one’s corrupt disposition is exposing oneself.) Exposing oneself involves motivation: If someone’s motivation is to show everyone their corruption rather than to exalt themselves, then their words will be earnest, true, and based on fact; if their motivation is to make people venerate them, if it is to deceive others, and hide their true face from them, to stop their disposition or their weaknesses and failings from being revealed to others, then what they say will be different. Is there not a concrete difference here?” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (2)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience that are genuine and from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me that I had to focus on reflecting on and knowing myself through experiences to fix my problem of exalting myself and showing off. I had to get my motives right when giving fellowships and talk more about the corruptions I expressed, dissect my motives and impurities, talk about how I experienced being judged by God’s words, what I truly understood about myself, what I understood about God’s disposition and His love, and use my actual experiences to exalt and testify to God. That’s truly doing my duty. In the next gathering, I purposely dissected how I’d schemed and showed off for the sake of status, and how God arranged a situation to deal with me and make me see my ugliness. A brother then said to me, “Your experience has shown me that although we have corrupt dispositions, we just need to accept being judged and dealt with by God’s words, practice the truth and forsake our flesh, and we will be transformed. I also see that everything God does is to save man.” I was filled with gratitude toward God when I heard this. Gaining this understanding of myself was all down to being judged and chastised by God’s words.
I began to consciously enter into this in my duty after that. When I discovered mistakes in others’ duties, I’d pray to God, set my motives straight and express my views objectively. I didn’t boast like before. I’d also find some principles of the truth to share with brothers and sisters. In gatherings, I’d dissect the motives and taints in my actions and the corrupt dispositions I revealed so that the others would know the real me. By practicing in this way, I felt such a sense of peace in my heart and my relationship with God normalized. Some time later, I felt that the others were treating me in the right way and didn’t look up to me like they had before. When I spoke or acted at odds with the principles of the truth, they pointed it out so I could set things straight. Interacting with the others this way was really liberating. I truly thank God for arranging this situation to cleanse and change me!