49. A Wonderful Way to Live
By Xunqiu, Japan
When I was little, my parents taught me not to be too direct with others, and never to rock the boat, and that was the philosophy for life. So I always lived by satanic philosophies for life like “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship” and “Never hit people below the belt” with classmates, friends, neighbors—everyone. Whenever I saw someone do something wrong, I didn’t want to embarrass them and tried not to expose their shortcomings. People always praised me for being understanding and considerate of others, and I thought it was a good way to be, too, that it was the most basic principle for getting along with others. After I gained faith and experienced the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, I realized that’s not actually being a good person, but it’s acting according to satanic life philosophies. It doesn’t help anyone, and it can even hurt other people. My outlook on things changed and God’s words gave me the principles of conduct.
When I was selected as a church leader in August 2019, I was so grateful to God for the opportunity. I silently resolved to shoulder the responsibility of that duty. After a little while, I noticed some issues with brothers’ and sisters’ work. For example, some of them were slipshod in their duty, leading to some obvious problems with videos they worked on. Some didn’t work well with others, so everyone’s work was out of sync, and work efficiency suffered. When I saw this, I thought, “They’re showing corruption in their duties. The work of God’s house will surely be severely impacted if it’s not pointed out. I need to fellowship with them and analyze it so they understand this and change.” But then I thought, “If I expose everyone’s problems right after taking on this duty, what will they think of me? Will they say I’m being strict because I’m new, that I’m too harsh and hard to get along with? Won’t it alienate everyone if I give them that kind of impression? Forget it. I won’t mention it for now. First I have to establish a good relationship with everyone.” So, I just glossed over all these brothers’ and sisters’ issues, always afraid of embarrassing people or putting them on the spot, which would damage our rapport.
Once, a sister told me that Brother Wang was really stubborn in his duty and wouldn’t take any suggestions, and it hindered work progress. I asked around to get some of the others’ opinions, and they all said that Brother Wang was arrogant, imperious, and condescending, and most of the people who worked with him felt constrained. Hearing this feedback, I realized that Brother Wang had a pretty serious problem and not dealing with it right away wouldn’t do any favors for his life entry or the work of God’s house. I had to seek him out for fellowship, to help him understand the seriousness of the issue. But when I did speak with Brother Wang, I just wanted to turn tail. I thought, “All these issues the others brought up are the worst parts of Brother Wang. If I lay out every single problem, won’t he feel I’m just belittling him as if he’s totally without merit? Won’t that be humiliating? Then if he feels like I’m targeting him personally, won’t he resent me for it? We see each other constantly, in gatherings, doing our duty. How will we get along if things become awkward between us?” Then I thought about how he always said in gatherings that he had an arrogant disposition, so if I just hinted at this without really delving into it and hitting any sensitive spots, that wouldn’t be too embarrassing for him and things wouldn’t be so awkward between us. So in our fellowship I just lightly touched on it, saying he was arrogant and was condescending toward others. He heard me out and admitted that he had those problems, that he was already aware of them. I knew he hadn’t realized how serious the issue was, but I didn’t say anything further. Since he hadn’t gained any real understanding of himself, he remained just as stubborn as ever in his duty, unable to work with others and causing delays. He was later transferred out. He took on another duty, but still encumbered by his corrupt disposition, he wasn’t very effective there, either. One day, his supervisor said to me angrily, “Were you aware of Brother Wang’s problems? If so, why didn’t you fellowship with him? He’s had a serious impact on our work progress.” Her stern words felt to me like God reprimanding me through her for not practicing the truth. I felt really bad, really guilty. If only I’d pointed out his issues in time and he’d really reflected on them, he might’ve been able to do his duty properly. But instead, he didn’t have any real understanding of his satanic nature, so he’d not only failed in his previous duty, but hadn’t changed after being transferred. He was still hindering the church’s work. Wasn’t I hurting others and delaying the work of God’s house? I used to think I had good humanity, but now I saw I was just maintaining my relationships with others so I wouldn’t embarrass them and leave them with a bad impression. But that wasn’t good for others’ life entry or the work of God’s house at all. Was that having good humanity?
I later read this in God’s words: “There must be a standard for having good humanity. It does not involve taking the path of moderation, not sticking to principles, endeavoring not to offend anyone, currying favor everywhere you go, being smooth and slick with everyone you meet, and making everyone feel good. This is not the standard. So what is the standard? It includes treating God, other people, and events with a true heart, being able to take responsibility, and doing all this in a way that is evident for everyone to see and feel. Moreover, God searches people’s hearts and knows them, each and every one. Some people always boast that they possess good humanity, claiming never to have done anything bad, stolen others’ possessions, or coveted other people’s things. They even go so far as to allow others to benefit at their own expense when there is a dispute over interests, preferring to suffer loss, and they never say anything bad about anyone just so that everyone else thinks they are good people. However, when performing their duties in God’s house, they are wily and slippery, always scheming for themselves. Never do they think of the interests of God’s house, never do they treat as urgent the things God treats as urgent or think as God thinks, and never can they set aside their own interests so as to perform their duties. They never forsake their own interests. Even when they see evildoers committing evil, they do not expose them; they have no principles whatsoever. This is not an example of good humanity” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words lay out the principles of conduct. A truly good person doesn’t take the path of moderation or stay quiet about other people’s problems. They don’t seek total harmony, either, or try to maintain perfect rapport with others. The standard for a truly good person lies in being principled and having a sense of justice. It’s upholding principles without fear of offending people to protect God’s house when its interests are compromised. In my interactions with brothers and sisters, I just focused on not embarrassing or offending anyone, thinking that everyone would think well of me as long as I maintained my relationships. But that wasn’t in line with the principles of the truth at all. I saw others doing things out of corruption and disrupting the work of God’s house, but wanting to protect my good image, I didn’t protect the church’s interests, but turned a blind eye. I let problems slide that I saw clearly. Especially with Brother Wang, I knew his issues had already severely impacted the work of God’s house. But I was afraid he might think I was personally targeting him, that he wouldn’t accept what I said and would develop a bias against me. So when I fellowshiped with him, I just glossed over things, underplaying the issue. As a result, he didn’t take his problems seriously. On the surface, I maintained my good image of being harmless, but in fact, I was doing damage to the church’s work and the life entry of brothers and sisters. I saw I was just a “nice guy,” a people pleaser, a through-and-through deceiver.
I read this in God’s words in my devotionals after that: “Some church leaders do not rebuke brothers or sisters whom they see performing their duty carelessly and perfunctorily, though they should. When they see something that is clearly detrimental to the interests of God’s house, they turn a blind eye and make no inquiries, so as not to cause the least offense to others. Their true purpose and goal are not to show consideration for others’ weaknesses—they know full well what they intend: ‘If I keep this up and don’t cause offense to anyone, they’ll think I’m a good leader. They’ll have a good, high opinion of me. They’ll favor me and like me.’ No matter how much damage is done to the interests of God’s house, and no matter how greatly God’s chosen people are impeded in their life entry, or how greatly their church life is disturbed, such people persist in their satanic philosophy of causing no offense. There is never a sense of self-reproach in their hearts; at most, they might, in passing, make casual mention of some issue, and then be done with it. They do not fellowship the truth, nor do they point out the essence of others’ problems, and less still do they dissect people’s states. They do not lead people to enter truth reality, and they never communicate what God’s will is, or the wrongs people often commit, or the sorts of corrupt disposition people reveal. They do not resolve these practical problems; instead, they are ever indulgent of others’ weaknesses and negativity, and even their carelessness and apathy. They consistently let these people’s actions and behaviors go without being labeled for what they are, and, precisely because they do so, most people come to think, ‘Our leader is like a mother to us. They have even more understanding for our weaknesses than God does. Our stature may be too small to live up to God’s requirements, but it’s enough that we can live up to our leader’s. They are a good leader for us. If a day comes when the Above replaces our leader, we should make our voices heard, and put forward our different opinions and wishes. We should try to negotiate with the Above.’ If people harbor such thoughts—if they have this sort of relationship with their leader, and such an impression of them, and have developed in their hearts such feelings of dependence, admiration, respect, and adoration toward their leader—how, then, ought the leader to feel? If, in this matter, they feel self-reproach, carry a burden at heart, and feel indebted to God, they should then not fixate on their status or image in the hearts of others. They should testify to God and exalt Him, so that He has a place in people’s hearts, and so that people revere God as great. Only thus will their heart be truly at peace, and one who does so is one who pursues the truth. If this is not the goal behind their actions, however, and they instead use these methods and techniques to entice people to stray from the true way and forsake the truth, going so far as to indulge people’s careless, perfunctory, and irresponsible performance of their duties, with an aim to occupy a certain place in people’s hearts and win their goodwill, is this not an attempt to win people over? And is this not an evil, detestable thing? It is abhorrent!” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words revealed the essence of and motives behind my actions. Since becoming a leader, I’d just been tiptoeing around to stay on good terms with people. I wouldn’t bring people’s issues to light, but just protected their dignity. I didn’t even have a sense of urgency when I saw Brother Wang being disruptive and hindering the church’s work. Instead I just watched my words around everyone, wanting to maintain my place among them. I seemed gentle and harmless from the outside, but that was a façade that misled brothers and sisters. I used what people saw as nice behavior and words to win people over so they’d like me and look up to me. That way I could strengthen my position. I wanted to smooth my own path and I did that at the cost of the interests of God’s house. I went against the principles of the truth and harmed the work of God’s house. I was walking the path of the antichrists. At this point, God’s words came to mind: “You may be exceptionally amiable and devoted toward your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, but if you are incapable of compatibility with Christ, if you are unable to interact in harmony with Him, then even if you expend your all in relief to your neighbors or take meticulous care of your father, mother, and members of your household, I would say that you are still wicked, and moreover one full of cunning tricks” (“Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s house let me act as a leader to guide others to practice the truth and do their duty, to uphold the work of God’s house, to fellowship on the truth to resolve others’ issues so they could understand their corruption and learn to do their duty with principle. That was my responsibility. But I didn’t do my duty as God requires. I just focused on my relationships and keeping my prestige with others, which ultimately harmed the work of God’s house and hindered others’ life entry. I was acting on Satan’s side. I saw I was exactly what God exposed in His words. Not only was I not a good person, but I was a slippery, selfish, despicable evil person. If I didn’t repent and change, I’d just become a stumbling block for brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I finally understood my rules for life in my interactions with others. I truly saw that “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship” and “Never hit people below the belt” are satanic poisons, not principles for genuine conduct. I came before God in prayer, willing to repent and correct my wrong pursuit.
I later read this in God’s words: “If you want to have a normal relationship with God, then your heart must turn to God. With this as a foundation, you will also have a normal relationship with other people. If you do not have a normal relationship with God, then no matter what you do to maintain your relationships with other people, no matter how hard you work or how much energy you exert, it will all just pertain to a human philosophy for living. You are maintaining your position among people through a human perspective and a human philosophy so that people will praise you, but you are not following the word of God to establish normal relationships with people. If you do not focus on your relationships with people but maintain a normal relationship with God, if you are willing to give your heart to God and learn to obey Him, then naturally your relationships with all people will become normal. This way, these relationships are not established in the flesh, but on the foundation of God’s love. There are almost no fleshly interactions, but in the spirit there is fellowship, mutual love, mutual comfort, and provision for one another. This is all done on the foundation of a heart that satisfies God. These relationships are not maintained by relying on a human philosophy for living, but are formed very naturally through carrying a burden for God. It does not require man-made effort. You need only practice according to God’s word principle” (“It Is Very Important to Establish a Normal Relationship With God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me that proper interpersonal relationships can’t be established using worldly philosophies for living. Only nourishing others’ spirits according to God’s words benefits everyone. When I saw others doing their duty with corruption which impacted their work, I shouldn’t have focused on my own status and image. I should have applied God’s words to the problem to help them understand their corrupt dispositions, and fellowshiped on God’s will so they could perform their duty well. God would have approved. In gatherings, Brother Wang was often able to understand himself in light of God’s words, which means he wanted to address his problems. It was just that he didn’t understand the root of the issue and didn’t truly hate himself so he still lived within his corruption when problems came up. If I’d used God’s words to analyze the essence of the problem so he could find a path of practice in them, this would have actually helped him. Realizing this, I wanted to change my wrong pursuit and do things according to God’s requirements. After that, I summarized Brother Wang’s issues in his duty and listed them out one by one. I fellowshiped with him, dissecting his behavior and analyzing the root of the issue. After that, he didn’t hate me or shun me like I’d thought he would, but was really accepting of my fellowship. He sent me a message later, saying “It’s great that you brought this up with me, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen how serious the problem is.” I was really moved. Once I corrected my motives and didn’t focus on what others thought of me, but practiced God’s words and upheld principles, I could offer practical support to those around me. I also felt at ease and at peace.
Later, I noticed a sister who procrastinated and was willful in her duty, which led to a lot of problems cropping up. She saw these problems and was really negative about it. I saw that these issues were largely from her attitude toward her duty, so I wanted to bring this up. But then I thought, “She’s already feeling down and discouraged. If I talk about her problems, won’t I be throwing salt on the wound? If she becomes even more negative, people might say I’m lacking humanity, that I’m unforgiving, and then ostracize me.” I thought it would be enough if I could find a way to fix the problems in her duty, then I wouldn’t have to mention her issues. Then I realized I was acting according to those satanic philosophies again, and if I didn’t show this sister her issues, she wouldn’t see her own corruption and that wouldn’t help her, either. I prayed to God and sought the truths I should enter into in that situation. After that, I read this in God’s words: “God is never irresolute or hesitant in His actions; the principles and purposes behind His actions are all clear and transparent, pure and flawless, with absolutely no ruses or schemes intermingled within. In other words, God’s essence contains no darkness or evil” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “God does not moderate; He is untainted by human ideas. For Him, one is one and two is two; right is right and wrong is wrong. There is no ambiguity” (“Only Being Truly Obedient Is a Real Belief” in Records of Christ’s Talks). This showed me that God is very principled in His words and deeds, that He knows what He likes and dislikes. God approves when people do positive things, but when people go against the truth and hurt the interests of God’s house, He loathes this. God is crystal clear in His actions—there’s no ambiguity. This made me think of how, when the Lord Jesus was crucified, Peter said, “Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You” (Matthew 16:22). Yet the Lord said, “Get you behind Me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23). By saying this, Peter was essentially standing in the way of God’s work, which is why God identified this as being from Satan. The Lord Jesus didn’t hold back for fear of hurting Peter’s self-regard or upsetting him. He made a clear determination based on Peter’s actions so he could see God’s attitude was clear and know the nature of his actions. God’s attitude toward people showed me the principles of practice. Tolerance and patience are called for with some problems of brothers and sisters, but if something impacts their duty or hinders the work of God’s house, that calls for fellowship and adherence to the principles of the truth. I couldn’t be a middle-of-the-road people pleaser. I knew that sister was feeling negative, but with the right motives, without looking down on her or scolding her imperiously, but lovingly fellowshiping on the truth to help analyze her problems, she could understand her corruption. Then we could seek a path of practice and my duty would be done according to God’s will. I later sought her out to fellowship on her problems and discuss her mistaken perspectives. I also shared my own experience to serve as guidance. At first, I was afraid that kind of fellowship was too harsh and she might not be able to handle it. But when I was done, she didn’t become more depressed or biased against me like I’d thought, but she said very sincerely that she really hadn’t understood her problems before and she could accept being dealt with that way. Her attitude in her duty improved after that and she started to consciously seek the principles of the truth. I was really happy to see this. Practicing the truth and doing my duty according to God’s requirements felt so good.
In my interactions with others, I’d always been afraid of embarrassing people by coming on too strong, so I’d handled my relationships based on worldly philosophies. It was an exhausting way to live. Through these experiences and the guidance of God’s words, I learned what it is to be a truly good person. I also experienced that it’s crucial to uphold the principles of the truth and practice God’s words when interacting with others. That’s the real principle of good conduct. Thanks be to God!