64. Arrogance Goes Before a Fall
By Xinjie, China
Almighty God says, “Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God. Even though, externally, some people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him” (God’s Fellowship). Reading these words of God reminded me of something I experienced some time ago. Back then, I was really arrogant and self-righteous. I’d been a church leader for several years, I’d done some work and had suffered a bit, and could resolve some practical issues in my duty. So I used all this to my advantage, and paid no mind to anyone else. Then I was dealt with and disciplined, and through the judgment and revelations of God’s words, I finally gained some understanding of my arrogant nature. I felt remorseful and hated myself. I started to focus on practicing the truth, and I underwent some change.
I took on a leadership position in a church in 2015. Sister Li worked with me, and she had just begun serving as a leader. The church deacons and group leaders were pretty new to the faith, so their fellowship on the truth was a little shallow. I thought, “I’ve been a believer longer than any of you, and I’ve been a leader for a while. I’m going to have to play a major role here and make everyone see the difference experience makes.” So, I would charge to the front in any matter and whenever a brother or sister was weak or had difficulties in their duty, whenever there was a holdup in church work, in whatever problems were the thorniest, or things my partner and co-workers couldn’t resolve, I came forward to deal with all of it. The church’s work started picking up after a little while and the brothers’ and sisters’ states had turned around. They could all do their duties properly. They also liked seeking me out for fellowship on their problems, and sought my opinion. I was really pleased with myself and couldn’t help but tally up all the work I’d done, thinking: “Without me at the helm, there’s no way the church’s work would be progressing so well. If it weren’t for my fellowship, the others’ states wouldn’t have improved so much. Looks like I really do have the reality of the truth and I can do practical work.” Sister Li later had to go back home to take care of some things, so I had to take on the church’s work by myself. At first, I felt a little stressed and kept God in my heart at all times. After every gathering I took stock of how it had gone, and I rushed to offer support to anyone feeling weak or negative. After some time, I saw that everyone was gathering and doing their duty as they should, and all of the church’s work was going along smoothly. I breathed a sigh of relief and couldn’t help but feel very pleased with myself. I felt like I’d proven myself over all these years of serving as a leader, that I’d seen a lot and handled a lot of problems. I had a variety of work experience and could take care of things on my own. I figured I really was a pillar of the church. Especially in that period, when I’d been getting up early and working into the night without complaining about tiredness or difficulty, I really felt I deserved some credit. Before I knew it, I was living in a state of being very self-satisfied and whenever I read God’s words judging and exposing mankind, I wasn’t applying them to myself. When brothers and sisters were in a bad state, I didn’t fellowship on the truth with them, but instead spurned them and would often scold them, saying, “You’ve been a believer this long, but you still don’t pursue the truth. How can you not have changed one bit?” Sometimes after fellowshiping on something, brothers and sisters said they still didn’t know what to do. Without asking why, I’d just reproach them, saying, “It’s not that you don’t know, it’s that you don’t want to put it into practice!” They all felt constrained by me and didn’t dare talk to me about their problems anymore.
Sister Liu was later elected as a leader to work alongside me. I thought that she hadn’t been in the faith very long and she might not understand some things even after discussions, so I’d have to have the final say for most church matters, large and small. Sometimes I’d make a decision and then send Sister Liu off to carry it out. Once, we got a letter from a leader asking us to recommend someone for a certain duty. I knew this related to the work of God’s house, so it called for discussion with my partner and co-workers, but then I thought, “I’ve been doing my duty in the church for so long. I know all about the brothers and sisters, so it should be fine for me to make the call.” So, I made the decision without discussing it with Sister Liu and then had her go set things up. Even though we served as leaders together, I was treating her like an underling. Sometimes when she didn’t take care of something well, I’d get upset with her. She was living in negativity and felt like she couldn’t understand anything or do her duty well. She’d gotten to that point from me stifling her, but I still didn’t reflect on myself. Instead, I felt even more that I possessed the reality of the truth and I was capable in my work, so I had to manage the church’s work. I became even more imperious and arrogant. When co-workers raised different suggestions during work discussions, a lot of the time I wouldn’t seek at all, but just flat-out shot them down. I thought, “What do you know, anyway? Don’t I know better after years as a leader?” I ended up having the final say over everything in the church’s work. God later allowed some situations to arise to deal with me. I kept hitting walls in my duty. I was missing appointments with people, and appointing people who were not in line with principles. The leader pointed out the mistakes in my work, and dealt with and pruned me. Even in the face of this, I still didn’t reflect on myself. I thought I just needed to pay more attention. A co-worker warned me, “Shouldn’t you reflect on why these problems have cropped up?” I said disdainfully, “No one’s perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. There’s no need to reflect on everything.” Some brothers and sisters asked me if I was doing okay, and I said I was fine, but inside I was thinking, “Why would something be wrong? Even if I were in a bad state, I could deal with it myself. No need for you to worry. I’ve been a leader this long, so don’t I understand the truth better than you?” No matter how they cautioned me, I wouldn’t listen. I was living entirely within my corrupt disposition and my spirit was growing darker. I started nodding off when I read God’s words and had nothing to say in prayer. More and more problems started cropping up in the church. I was totally blind. I lacked insight into a lot of problems and didn’t know how to deal with them. Before long, a general opinion survey was done in the church, and the brothers and sisters all said that I was really arrogant and wouldn’t accept the truth. They said I was dictatorial, that I’d scold people and constrain them. I ended up being removed from my position. On that day, the leader shared everyone’s evaluations with me. I could feel God venting His wrath at me through the brothers and sisters exposing and dealing with me. I felt like a street rat that disgusts everyone and is even spurned by God. I couldn’t understand how I’d sunk so low. In my pain, I came before God in seeking: “Oh God, I’ve always thought of myself as being responsible in my church work, as having some reality of the truth. I never thought I’d have as many problems as I do now. In the others’ eyes, I’m an arrogant person who won’t accept the truth. God, I don’t know how I became this way. Please enlighten and guide me to know myself and understand Your will.”
I then read these words from God: “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. … Those who perform their duty and those who do not; those who lead and those who follow; those who receive God and those who do not; those who donate and those who do not; those who preach and those who receive the word, and so on: all such men praise themselves. Do you not find this laughable? 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). “Do not think that you understand everything. I tell you that all you have seen and experienced is insufficient for you to understand even a thousandth of My management plan. So why then do you act so haughty? That little bit of talent and tiny bit of knowledge you have are insufficient for Jesus to use in even a single second of His work! How much experience do you actually possess? What you have seen and all that you have heard in your lifetime and what you have imagined are less than the work I do in a single moment! You had best not nitpick and find fault. You can be as arrogant as you want, but you are nothing more than a creature not even the equal of an ant! All that you hold within your belly is less than what is in an ant’s belly! Do not think, just because you have gained some experience and seniority, that this entitles you to gesticulate wildly and talk big. Are not your experience and your seniority the product of the words I have uttered? Do you believe that they were in exchange for your own labor and toil?” (“The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). What God’s words revealed was precisely my state. I was gutted, and only then started reflecting on myself. After doing my duty as a leader for a few years, I thought that since I’d been in that position for a while, I understood more truth and was more capable than the others, that I was a pillar of the church, and the church couldn’t do without me. When I achieved a bit in my duty, I thought I understood everything, that I had the reality of the truth, that I was better than everyone. I thought having faith for a while, having some experience was my ticket to being arrogant and that I was on a higher rung than other people. I didn’t pay brothers’ and sisters’ suggestions any mind at all, much less seek or accept them. Even when they were caring toward me and asked about my state, I felt I was of greater stature than them, so I could take care of it, and didn’t need their help. When I discovered their faults and difficulties, I didn’t fellowship on the truth to help them, but snubbed them. They just couldn’t do right in my eyes and I scolded them loftily. As a result, brothers and sisters were constrained by me and lived in negativity. How was that doing my duty? It was clearly doing evil. I revealed nothing but an arrogant, conceited satanic disposition. When God became flesh in the last days, expressing the truth and working to save man, He did such great work, but He never showed off, and He didn’t present Himself as God. Instead, He was humble and hidden, quietly doing the work of salvation. I saw that God is so humble and lovely, but I, so deeply corrupted by Satan and full of satanic dispositions, thought so much of myself and my abilities just because I’d had faith for a while, and I understood more doctrines, and had some work experience. I got up on my pedestal and wouldn’t come down. I was totally lacking self-knowledge, I didn’t know anything about myself, and I was arrogant beyond all reason. I was hideous. After being exposed by God, I finally saw my true stature. I had been able to resolve some issues in my duty only because of the Holy Spirit’s work. Without His work and guidance, I was totally blind and understood nothing. I couldn’t take care of my own problems, much less other people’s. Even so, I became totally overbearing. I really was so arrogant. At that point I felt ashamed of my behavior.
I then read these words of God: “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 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! 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 One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After reading God’s words I realized that my arrogant nature was the root of me doing evil and resisting God. Driven by my arrogant nature, I took credit for the results of the Holy Spirit’s work when I had a bit of success in my duty, parading myself as the golden child of the church. I shamelessly believed myself to be a recipient of God’s salvation, yet I had no self-knowledge at all. In my duty, I was constantly flaunting my seniority, thinking of myself as better and higher up than anyone, always lording over others. I even used God’s words to admonish brothers and sisters, and when arranging work I didn’t discuss things with the sister working with me. Instead, I acted autocratically and had the last word. I even made unilateral decisions on important matters for the work of God’s house. I made that sister nothing but a figurehead and created my own empire in the church. Because of my arrogant nature, I disregarded everyone else and didn’t keep God in my heart. I didn’t seek the principles of the truth when faced with an issue, and I even took my own ideas as the truth, having everyone else listen to and obey me. It reminded me of God giving the archangel some power to have it manage the other angels in heaven, but it lost all reason in its arrogance, feeling it was something special and wanting to be on equal footing with God. As a result, it offended God’s disposition, and God cursed it and cast it down from heaven. And now, God elevated me to work as a leader so that I would exalt and bear witness to Him in all things, so I could fellowship on the truth to resolve practical issues, help others understand the truth and submit to God. But I didn’t seek the truth or do my duty according to God’s requirements. Instead I seized power, put myself at the center, and had everyone listen to and obey me. How was I any different from the archangel? God arranged situations to block my way, and then warned me through brothers and sisters, but I didn’t accept that or reflect on myself at all. I was so rigid and rebellious! I’d been doing my duty with my arrogant disposition, stifling brothers and sisters, resulting in them living in negativity and unable to resolve their difficulties. There wasn’t any progress in the church’s work, either. That was all evil I did from being controlled by my arrogance! I have such a stubborn, arrogant nature. Without God harshly exposing and dealing with me through brothers and sisters, and removing me from my duty, I never would have reflected on myself. If that had gone on, I only would have done more evil. I would have offended God’s disposition, then been cursed and punished by God, just like the archangel. At that point I gained understanding of God’s kind intentions. He was doing this to stop me in my evil tracks and to give me a chance to repent. This was God protecting and saving me. I gave thanks to God from my heart.
After I was replaced, Sister Liu was able to carry out her duty normally, and from what others said, even though the newly elected leader and deacons hadn’t been believers for long, when discussing work no one clung to their own ideas, but instead prayed and leaned on God, seeking the principles of the truth together. Everyone worked together, and the church’s work gradually picked up again. I was really ashamed to hear this. I had always thought church work couldn’t go on without me, but faced with the facts, I saw that the work of God’s house is all done and supported by the Holy Spirit, and it’s not something any one person can do. People just perform their own duty. No matter how long we’ve believed in God, as long as we rely on God to seek and practice the truth in our duty, we’ll have God’s guidance and blessings. Doing my duty without seeking the truth, but arrogantly doing whatever I wanted, and being dictatorial was disgusting to God. Without God’s guidance, I lost the Holy Spirit’s work and became worthless. I couldn’t do anything. I used to be blindly arrogant, running rampant, haughtily ordering people around, constraining and harming brothers and sisters, and I’d disrupted the work of the church. I felt so guilty, and had so much self-reproach. I prayed to God: “God, I’ve been so blind. I haven’t known myself, always thinking that I understood more because I’d been a leader for longer, so I was better than everyone. My arrogance led me in my duty, and this disrupted the work of Your house. Oh God, I don’t want to oppose You anymore, and I wish to truly repent.”
I then read this in God’s words: “You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and who are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God shall also be punished. This is an immutable fact” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words were perfectly clear. God determines people’s outcomes not by how long they’ve believed, how much they can preach, or how much they’ve worked, but by whether they pursue the truth, whether they’ve changed their corrupt dispositions, and whether they can do the duty of a created being. These are the most important things. Before, I never knew God’s righteous disposition. I’d believed for a while, I had a few years’ experience as a leader, and I’d had some success in my duty. I used all this to my advantage. I thought if I kept on pursuing in that way, I’d be saved by God, so I didn’t focus on experiencing being judged, chastised, dealt with, and pruned by God. I particularly disregarded seeking the truth in my duty to resolve my corrupt dispositions. As a result, my life disposition hardly changed after years of faith in God, and I was living by my satanic, arrogant nature, doing evil and resisting God. I saw that we can’t know ourselves or truly repent to God if we don’t pursue the truth in our faith. No matter how much work we’ve done, how much we’ve preached, without change in our life disposition, we’ll still be condemned and eliminated by God. This is determined by God’s righteous disposition and holy essence. After understanding God’s will I no longer took advantage of how long I’d believed or how much work I’d done, but started to focus on putting effort into God’s words, reflecting and knowing myself, and pursuing change in my satanic dispositions.
After that, I was given another duty in the church. When working with brothers and sisters, I was more humble, and when they raised different views, sometimes I felt I was right and wanted them to listen to me, but I quickly realized that I was showing my arrogant disposition again, so I would pray to God and put myself aside to seek the truth alongside brothers and sisters, and resolve things through discussion. Brothers and sisters all said I wasn’t as arrogant as before, that I was much more mature. Hearing this assessment from them was really moving for me. I knew this had been achieved by the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. Even though I haven’t entirely gotten rid of my arrogant disposition and I’m still a far cry from the standards God requires, I’ve seen God’s love and salvation. I’ve seen that God’s work and words truly can transform and purify people.