Item Eight: They Would Have Others Submit Only to Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One) Section Two

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Xiaogang’s Dreams

Today I will begin again by telling a story. Are you interested in listening to stories? Can you gain something from stories? Things happen in stories, and these things contain truths. The people in stories have some states, some revelations, and some intentions and corrupt dispositions. In fact, these exist in everybody, and they are connected to everyone. If you understand and are able to recognize these things in stories, this proves that you have spiritual understanding. Some people say: “You say I have spiritual understanding—does that mean I’m a person who loves the truth?” Not necessarily; they are two different things. Some people have spiritual understanding but do not love the truth. They simply understand and nothing more, and they do not hold the truth against themselves for comparison or put the truth into practice. Some people have spiritual understanding, and after listening to stories, they discover that they have the same problems and consider how to enter and how to change going forward—these people have achieved the desired results. So today, I’ll go on to tell a story. The subject matter is light and everyone will be willing to listen to it. These last two days I have been mulling over which story can enable the majority of people to gain something and be edified after they listen to it, and can furthermore deeply impress an aspect of the truth upon them, as well as enable them to relate it to reality, and benefit from it through entering into an aspect of the truth or correcting a kind of deviation. I forgot to give a name to the last story I told, so today we shall give that story a name. What do you think it should be called? (Special Gifts.) Leave out the word “special”; let’s call it “Gifts.” The word “special” sounds a little strange here, and people will focus their attention on it. “Gifts” has a more ambiguous meaning. So, what story will I tell today? Today’s story is called “Xiaogang’s Dreams.” “Xiao” means “small,” as you all know, and what about “Gang”? (“Post.”) Correct. On hearing this name, you should know the content of the story—you should come close to guessing it. Now I will begin telling the story.

Xiaogang is an enthusiastic, studious, and diligent young man, and he is fairly smart. He loves to study, so he learns a little about some of today’s quite popular computer technologies, and in God’s house, he is naturally assigned to perform his duty in the Video Editing Team. When he first joins the Video Editing Team, Xiaogang is very happy and proud. Because he is young and has a command of certain technologies, he believes that video work is his specialty as well as his hobby, and that he can make use of his expertise by performing his duty there and also make progress in this field through the process of constant studying. In addition, most of the people he meets here are also young, and he very much likes the atmosphere here and enjoys this duty. So, every day he is busying himself with work and studying earnestly. It is in this way that Xiaogang gets up early to start work every day, sometimes not resting until late at night. Xiaogang pays many prices for his duty and suffers some hardships, and naturally he also learns a fair amount of relevant professional knowledge; he feels every day has been spent very productively. Xiaogang also frequently fellowships and attends gatherings with his brothers and sisters, and feels that after coming here, he has made more progress compared to when he believed in God in his hometown and that he has grown up, and can take up some work. He feels very happy and satisfied. When he originally studied computer technology, he hoped that he would work with computers one day, and now his wish has finally been fulfilled, so he really values this opportunity. A period of time passes, and Xiaogang’s work and his post have not changed. He holds to his job and holds to this responsibility and duty of his, and he appears to be more mature than before. He has also made progress in life entry, he frequently fellowships and pray-reads God’s words with his brothers and sisters at gatherings, and his interest in believing in God is becoming stronger and stronger. It can also be said that Xiaogang’s faith is increasing little by little. So, he has a new dream: “It would be great if I could become a more useful person while doing computer work!”

Time passes like this, day by day, and Xiaogang keeps performing the same duty. On one occasion he happens to watch a movie, and afterward it has a deep impact on him. Why? In the movie there is a young man of a similar age to Xiaogang, and he admires this young man’s performance, acting, and speech and deportment in the movie, also becoming a little jealous. After watching the movie, he occasionally imagines: “It would be great if I were that young man in the film. Every day, I’m in front of the computer making and uploading all kinds of videos, and no matter how busy or tired I am, or how hard I work, I’m still just a behind-the-scenes worker. How could anyone know how hard we’re working? If I could appear on the big screen one day like that young guy in the movie, and more people could see and know me, that would be great!” Xiaogang watches this film over and over, as well as all the different shots involving that young man. The more he watches, the more he envies him, and the more his heart yearns, longing to become an actor. Thus, Xiaogang’s new dream is born. What is his new dream? “I want to study acting, and strive to become a qualified actor, appear on the big screen, have an air about me like that young man’s, and get more people to envy me and yearn to be me.” From then on, Xiaogang starts working toward his dream. In his spare time, Xiaogang goes online and looks at all kinds of materials about acting. He also watches all kinds of movies and television shows, watching and learning at the same time, while fantasizing about having the opportunity to become an actor. The days still pass one by one in this way—Xiaogang is studying the acting profession while also holding to his post. Finally, thanks to his perseverance and diligence, Xiaogang masters certain fundamentals of acting. He has learned how to imitate, he has learned how to speak and perform in front of others, and he doesn’t have the slightest bit of stage fright. His repeated requests finally earn him an opportunity: There is a film that needs a young man for the leading role. From the audition, the director realizes his looks, his class, and his basic acting skills are up to the mark. If he has a little more training, he should be able to do it. Upon hearing this news, Xiaogang is overjoyed, and thinks to himself: “I can finally go from behind the scenes to being on screen—another dream of mine is about to be realized!” Xiaogang is then transferred to the Film Production Team to perform his duty.

After Xiaogang transfers to the Film Production Team, the new working environment brings him freshness and vitality. He feels that every day passes so happily, and that it’s not as dreary, dull, and restricted as before, because he lives and works there, and many of the things he comes into contact with every day are totally different to his computer work—he lives in another area of work, in another world. In this way, Xiaogang throws himself into the film production work. Every day he busies himself acting and learning his lines, listening to the director’s instruction and listening to his brothers and sisters analyze the plot. For Xiaogang, the most difficult part is getting into character, so he memorizes his lines over and over and keeps thinking about his own character, how he should speak and act, how he should walk and stand, even how he should sit, he has to re-learn all of these things. After continuing with this complex and varied work for a period of time, Xiaogang finally realizes just how difficult it is to be an actor. Every day he has to memorize the same lines. Sometimes he can recite them perfectly, but when it comes to the actual performance, he always makes mistakes and has to redo the scene. He is frequently reprimanded by the director because one of his actions or lines is not up to scratch. If several of his performances in a row go poorly, he will undergo being pruned, and he will lose face, endure suffering, and even attract strange looks and teasing. Faced with all of this, Xiaogang is a little discouraged, “If I’d known that being an actor on the big screen would be this hard, I wouldn’t have come here, but now I’m in a bit of a quagmire. I’m already here, so it would be unreasonable for me to give up before the filming has finished, and there’d be no way for me to account for it. This was my dream, I must make it a reality, but how long is the road ahead? Can I carry on?” Xiaogang begins to falter. In the following days, Xiaogang struggles to cope with his daily work and life. Each day is more unbearable than the last, but he still has to endure it and force himself to move forward. As one can well imagine, going forward Xiaogang is certain to have problems in various respects. He begins to do the work assigned to him very reluctantly. When the director tells him what to do, he listens and that is it. Afterward, he tries his best to achieve what he can, but if he can’t manage to do something, he doesn’t get serious with himself. What status is Xiaogang in at this moment? He is passing each day very reluctantly, very negatively, and very passively, without accepting the earnest guidance and help of the director or his brothers and sisters into his heart at all. He believes, “This is just how I am, there’s no room for improvement. You are pushing me beyond my abilities. If we can film it, let’s do it; if we can’t, then let’s just forget it. I’ll go back to my Video Editing Team to do my duty.” He thinks of how great it was working on the Video Editing Team, sitting in front of the computer every day. It was so comfortable and easy; he was so happy! His whole self and his whole world were all at the tap of a keyboard, he could have whatever he wanted just by activating a special effect. That virtual world is very attractive to Xiaogang. At this moment, Xiaogang misses his past and the time he spent performing his duty on the Video Editing Team even more. The days pass in this way, then one night, Xiaogang can’t sleep. Why can’t he sleep? He is thinking to himself: “Am I cut out to be an actor? If I’m not cut out for it, then I should return to the Video Editing Team right away. The duty of the Video Editing Team is relaxed and easy, I sit down in front of the computer and half of the day is just gone, and I don’t have to cook my own food. That duty is not strenuous, everything is possible at the touch of my keyboard, there is only the unimaginable, nothing is impossible. Nowadays, being an actor, I have to learn my lines every day and recite them over and over. Yet my performance still isn’t up to par, the director often berates me, and my brothers and sisters often criticize me. Doing this duty is too strenuous, it’s much better to work on the Video Editing Team!” The more he thinks about it, the more he misses it. He tosses and turns for half the night, unable to sleep, and is only able to drift off in the latter half of the night when he is simply too tired to stay awake. When Xiaogang opens his eyes early in the morning, his first thought is: “Ultimately, should I leave or not? Should I go back to the Video Editing Team? If I stay here, I don’t know if the film will even be deemed up to standard after we finish filming, and who knows how much hardship I will have to endure in the meantime? I’m just not cut out to be an actor! Back then, it was out of a momentary impulse and a whim that I wanted to be an actor, I was really muddled! You see, I made one wrong move and now things are so difficult to handle, and there’s no one for me to talk about this hardship with. Based on my current situation, it seems like it won’t be easy for me to become a good actor, so I should give up as soon as possible. I’ll tell the director right away that I’m going back, so that I don’t delay things for them.” Then, Xiaogang summons his courage to say this to the director: “Look, I’m not cut out to be an actor, but you guys just had to pick me—why don’t you just let me go back to the Video Editing Team?” The director says: “No way, we’ve already shot half of this movie. If we change actors, that will delay our work, won’t it?” Xiaogang persists and says: “So what? Replace me with whoever you want, it’s got nothing to do with me. No matter what, you have to let me go. If you don’t let me go, I won’t put any effort into acting!” The director sees that Xiaogang is insistent on leaving and that they won’t be able to finish shooting the movie, so he lets him leave.

Xiaogang finally returns to the Video Editing Team from the Film Production Team. He returns to his former workplace that he knows so well. He touches his chair and his computer, and they feel familiar. He prefers this place. He goes and sits down; the chair is soft and the computer is ready to go. “Making videos is better, this duty isn’t tiring. Working behind the scenes has its advantages, nobody knows if you make a mistake, and nobody criticizes you, you just correct it right away and that’s the end of it.” Xiaogang has finally discovered the advantages of being a behind-the-scenes worker. What is his mood at this moment? He feels incredibly comforted and happy, and thinks: “I made the right choice. God gave me an opportunity and allowed me to come back to this job. I’m honored to have this privilege!” He is glad that he has made the right choice for once. In the following days, Xiaogang keeps to the Video Editing Team’s daily working routine. Nothing special happens during this time, and Xiaogang passes each day in an ordinary way.

One day, when working on a video, Xiaogang suddenly discovers a humorous and classy young man in a dance program who performs very well. He thinks: “He is about my age; how come he can dance and I can’t?” Consequently, Xiaogang is tempted again. What idea comes to him? (Dancing.) Xiaogang has the idea to study dancing. He watches this video clip and the young man’s performance over and over. He then makes some inquiries about where to study dancing, how to learn it, and what the most basic dances are. He also frequently makes use of the convenience of being at work to search on his computer for teaching materials, videos, and study resources to do with dancing. Of course, while searching, Xiaogang is not only looking, he is also learning by practicing. In order to learn to dance, Xiaogang gets up very early every day and goes to bed very late. Building on his very limited foundation of gymnastic dance, he starts formally studying folk dance, getting up early every day to stretch and backbend. In the process of studying, Xiaogang endures a lot of physical pain, and spends a lot of his time, finally making some small gains. Xiaogang feels that his opportunity has finally come, that he can dance on stage because he believes his body is a bit more flexible and he can do some dance moves. Also, through imitation and study, he has just about mastered some of the beats when he plays music. Under these circumstances, Xiaogang feels it is time to apply to the church to change his duty. Again, after repeated requests, Xiaogang finally has his wish fulfilled and he joins the Dance Team to become a dancer. From then on, like the other dancers, Xiaogang gets up early for morning training and rehearses the dance program, and regularly attends gatherings, fellowships, and analyzes and plans out the dance program with these people. He just does this work every day, and when the day is over, he is so tired that his back is sore and his legs ache. Every day is like this, rain or shine. When he started, Xiaogang was full of inquisitiveness about dance, but once he has understood and become familiar with the life and various aspects of a dancer, Xiaogang feels that this is all there is to dance. Dancing a move over and over, sometimes twisting an ankle, sometimes tweaking the lower back, and there is risk of injury. As he dances, he thinks, “Oh no, working as a dancer is difficult too. Every day I tire myself out so much that my entire body stinks of sweat. It’s not that easy. It’s harder than video work! No, I must persevere!” This time he doesn’t give up so easily, and he persists until he finally gets to the dress rehearsal for the dance program, after which, their dance is sent for review. On the day of the review, what mood is Xiaogang in? He is so excited and full of anticipation for the results of his hard work that he doesn’t even eat lunch. “He has put in a lot of effort, hasn’t he?” Finally, when the results are released, their dance doesn’t pass the first round of reviews. The news hits Xiaogang like a thunderbolt, and his mood hits rock bottom. He falls down into a chair, “We spent so long on this dance, and you’re rejecting it with just one word? Do you know anything about dance? We dance with principles, we have all paid a price, and you’re rejecting our dance just like that?” Then he thinks, “The decision is in their hands, and if they don’t approve our dance, we must revise it again. There’s no one to argue about it with. There’s nothing else we can do, so let’s start over.” On the day their dance is rejected in the first round of reviews, Xiaogang doesn’t eat his lunch, and he only reluctantly eats a little at dinner. Do you think he’s able to sleep that night? (He can’t sleep.) He can’t sleep again, his mind is churning, “Why don’t things work out anywhere I go? God has not blessed me. The dance we’ve been working on for two months didn’t pass the first round of reviews. I don’t know when it’ll pass the second round of reviews, and I don’t know how much time we’ll have to spend for that to happen. When will I be able to get up on stage and officially perform? There’s no hope of me stepping into the limelight!” His mind goes back and forth, he ponders and ponders, and thinks, “Video work is better. I just go there and sit down, tap on the keyboard, and flowers, plants, and trees all appear. The birds call when I make them call, the horses run when I make them run, whatever I want, it’s there. But in dance, we have to pass reviews, and every day I tire myself out so much that I stink of sweat. Sometimes I’m so tired I can’t eat or sleep well, and then our dance doesn’t pass the first round of reviews. This duty is also hard. Wouldn’t it be better if I went back to work on the Video Editing Team?” He thinks and thinks, “But that’s so pathetic, why am I wavering again? I shouldn’t think like this, go to sleep!” He drifts off to sleep, puzzled. The next day he gets up and has almost forgotten all about it, so he carries on dancing and continues with the dress rehearsal. When it comes to the day of the second round of reviews, Xiaogang is nervous again. He asks: “Can our dance make it through this review?” Everyone says: “Who knows? If it doesn’t make it, then it proves our dancing isn’t good enough, and we’ll carry on working on it. When it passes, that’s when we’ll officially perform and film it. Let everything take its course and deal with this matter correctly.” Xiaogang says: “No, you can deal with it correctly, but I don’t have time for that.” Finally, the results of the second round come out, and their dance has not passed again. Xiaogang says: “Humph, I knew it! It’s not easy to be successful in this line of work! We are young, good-looking, and we can dance. Aren’t these strengths? Those reviewers are jealous of us because they can’t dance, that’s why they won’t pass our dance. It seems like it’ll never pass, dancing isn’t easy, I’m going back.” That night Xiaogang sleeps very peacefully, because he has made up his mind to pack up, leave, and say goodbye the next day.

In any case, Xiaogang finally has his wish fulfilled again and returns to the Video Editing Team, sitting in front of his computer again. He reflects on those familiar feelings from the past, and thinks, “I was born to do behind-the-scenes work. I can only be an unsung hero, I have no chance of being on stage or being famous in this life. I’ll just behave myself and keep tapping away at the keyboard. This is my duty, so I’ll just do this job.” He has steadied himself after all this back and forth. His second dream has been dashed, and gone unfulfilled. Xiaogang is a “diligent and studious” person, and an “enthusiastic and ambitious” person—do you think it’s likely that he’ll be so willing to sit at a computer and do such tedious work? No, he most likely won’t.

Recently, Xiaogang has become obsessed with singing. How can he change so quickly? Why is he obsessed with this, why can he not stay away from the stage? There is something hidden in his heart. This time he doesn’t rashly request to change his duty; he just searches for materials every day and practices his vocal skills and his singing. He frequently practices until he’s hoarse, sometimes until he can’t even make a sound. Even so, Xiaogang is still not discouraged, because this time he has changed strategy. He says, “This time I can’t change my duty without understanding the actual situation. I’ve really got to be careful, otherwise people will mock me. What will they think of me if I’m always changing my duty? They will look down on me. This time I need to keep on practicing until I think I can be a singing star, as good as the singers in the church, then I’ll sign up for the Hymn Team.” He puts effort into practicing like this every day, both in his spare time and at work, training tirelessly. One day, when Xiaogang is working, his team leader suddenly says to him: “Xiaogang, what kind of work are you doing? If you’re perfunctory like this again and don’t put effort into your work, you won’t be allowed to do this duty anymore.” Xiaogang says: “I didn’t do anything.” Then, everyone crowds round, saying “Xiaogang, what’s happened? Oh, you’ve made such a big mistake! The Above has corrected this kind of mistake so many times, how could you still make it? It’s because you’re practicing singing every day and don’t concentrate on video editing, so you keep making mistakes and delaying important matters. If you make a mistake like this again, the church will expel you. It won’t want you anymore, and we’ll all reject you!” Xiaogang keeps explaining: “I didn’t do it on purpose, I’ll be careful from now on, give me one more chance. Don’t expel me, I beg you, don’t expel me! God, save me!” When he calls out, he feels a large hand clap him on the shoulder, saying, “Xiaogang, wake up! Wake up, Xiaogang!” What is going on? (He’s dreaming.) He is dreaming. His eyes are closed and he’s in a daze, his hands are grabbing and scratching at the air. Everyone wonders what has happened and then they see Xiaogang bent over his keyboard sleeping. A brother pats him, and after a few pushes Xiaogang finally wakes up. When he is awake, he says: “Oh, what a fright, I was about to be expelled.” “For what?” Xiaogang thinks about it and sees that nothing has happened. It turns out that it was a dream after all, he was scared awake by a dream. That’s the end of the story, that was “Xiaogang’s Dreams.”

What problem does this story talk about? The fact that dreams and reality are often conflicting. A lot of the time, people think their dreams are legitimate, but they don’t know that dreams and reality are not the same thing at all. Dreams are just your wishful thinking, just a temporary interest of yours. Most of the time, they are people’s preferences, ambitions, and desires that become the goals of their pursuits. People’s dreams are totally inconsistent with reality. If people have too many dreams, what mistakes will they often make? They will overlook the work in front of them which they should be doing at that moment. They will ignore reality, and push aside the duties they should perform, the work they should complete, and the obligations and responsibilities they should fulfill at that time. They won’t take these things seriously and they’ll just keep following their dreams, constantly rushing about and working hard to realize them, and doing lots of meaningless things. In this way, not only will they fail to perform their duties properly, they may also delay and disturb the work of the church. A lot of people don’t understand the truth or pursue the truth. What do they treat performing a duty like? They treat it like a kind of job, a kind of hobby, or an investment of their interest. They don’t treat it like a mission or a task given by God, or a responsibility which they should fulfill. Even less do they seek to understand the truth or God’s intentions in the course of performing their duties, so that they may perform their duties well and complete God’s commission. Therefore, in the process of performing their duties, some people become unwilling as soon as they endure a bit of hardship and want to escape. When they encounter some difficulties or suffer some setbacks, they back down, and want to escape again. They do not seek the truth; they just think about escaping. Like turtles, if anything goes wrong, they just hide in their shells, then wait until the problem has passed before they emerge again. There are a lot of people like this. In particular, there are some people who, when asked to take responsibility for certain work, don’t consider how they can offer their loyalty, or how to perform this duty and do this work well. Rather, they consider how to shirk responsibility, how to avoid being pruned, how to avoid shouldering any responsibility, and how to emerge unscathed when problems or mistakes occur. They first consider their own escape route and how to satisfy their own preferences and interests, not how to perform their duties well and offer their loyalty. Can people like this gain the truth? They do not put in effort with regard to the truth, and they do not put the truth into practice when it comes to performing their duties. To them, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Today they want to do this, tomorrow they want to do that, and they think that everyone else’s duties are better and easier than their own. And yet, they do not put in effort with regard to the truth. They do not think about what problems there are with these ideas of theirs, and they do not seek the truth to solve problems. Their minds are always focused on when their own dreams will be realized, who is in the limelight, who is getting recognition from the Above, who does work without being pruned and gets promoted. Their minds are filled with these things. Can people who are always thinking about these things perform their duties adequately? They can never accomplish this. So, what kind of people perform their duties in this way? Are they people who pursue the truth? Firstly, one thing is certain: People like this do not pursue the truth. They seek to enjoy a few blessings, become famous, and step into the spotlight in God’s house, just like when they were getting by in society. In terms of essence, what kind of people are they? They are disbelievers. Disbelievers perform their duties in God’s house as they would do work in the outside world. They care about who is getting promoted, who is becoming a team leader, who is becoming a church leader, who is being praised by everyone for their work, who is exalted and mentioned. They care about these things. It is just like in a company: Who is getting promoted, who is getting a raise, who is receiving the praise of the leader, and who is becoming familiar with the leader—people care about these things. If they also seek these things in God’s house, and are preoccupied with these things all day, aren’t they the same as the nonbelievers? In essence, they are nonbelievers; they are typical disbelievers. Whatever duty they perform, they will just be laboring and acting in a perfunctory way. Whatever sermons they hear, they still won’t accept the truth, and even less will they put the truth into practice. They have believed in God for many years without undergoing any change, and no matter how many years they perform their duties for, they will not be able to offer their loyalty. They do not have true faith in God, they do not have loyalty, they are disbelievers.

Some people are afraid of shouldering responsibility while performing their duty. If the church gives them a job to do, they will first consider whether the job requires them to shoulder responsibility, and if it does, they will not accept the job. Their conditions for performing a duty are, first, that it must be a slack job; second, that it is not busy or tiring; and third, that no matter what they do, they do not shoulder any responsibility. This is the only kind of duty they take on. What sort of a person is this? Is this not a slippery, deceitful person? They do not want to shoulder even the smallest amount of responsibility. They even fear that leaves will break their skull when they fall from trees. What duty can a person like this perform? What use could they have in the house of God? The work of the house of God has to do with the work of battling Satan, as well as spreading the kingdom gospel. What duty does not entail responsibilities? Would you say that being a leader carries responsibility? Are their responsibilities not all the greater, and must they not bear responsibility all the more? Regardless of whether you spread the gospel, testify, make videos, and so on—no matter what work you do—so long as it pertains to the truth principles, it carries with it responsibilities. If the performance of your duty is unprincipled, it will affect the work of God’s house, and if you are afraid of shouldering responsibility, then you cannot perform any duty. Is someone who fears taking on responsibility in performing their duty cowardly, or is there a problem with their disposition? You must be able to tell the difference. The fact is that this is not an issue of cowardice. If that person were after wealth, or they were doing something in their own interest, how could they be so brave? They would take on any risk. But when they do things for the church, for God’s house, they take on no risk at all. Such people are selfish and vile, the most treacherous of all. Anyone who does not take on responsibility in performing a duty is not the least bit sincere to God, to say nothing of their loyalty. What sort of person dares to take on responsibility? What sort of person has the courage to bear a heavy burden? Someone who takes the lead and goes bravely forth at the most crucial moment in the work of God’s house, who is not afraid to bear a heavy responsibility and endure great hardship when they see the work that is most important and crucial. That is someone loyal to God, a good soldier of Christ. Is it the case that everyone who fears taking on responsibility in their duty does so because they do not understand the truth? No; it is a problem in their humanity. They have no sense of justice or responsibility, they are selfish and vile people, not true-hearted believers in God, and they do not accept the truth in the least. For this reason, they cannot be saved. Believers in God must pay a great price in order to gain the truth, and they will encounter many obstacles to practicing it. They must forsake things, abandon their fleshly interests, and endure some suffering. Only then will they be able to put the truth into practice. So, can one who fears taking on responsibility practice the truth? They certainly cannot practice the truth, let alone gain it. They are afraid of practicing the truth, of incurring a loss to their interests; they are afraid of being humiliated, of disparagement, and of judgment, and they do not dare to practice the truth. Consequently, they cannot gain it, and no matter how many years they believe in God, they cannot attain His salvation. Those who can perform a duty in God’s house must be people whose burden is the work of the church, who take responsibility, who uphold the truth principles, and who can suffer and pay the price. If one is lacking in these areas, they are unfit to perform a duty, and they do not possess the conditions for the performance of duty. There are many people who are afraid of taking on responsibility in performing a duty. Their fear manifests in three main ways. The first is that they choose duties that do not require taking on responsibility. If a church leader arranges for them to perform a duty, they first ask whether they must take on responsibility for it: If so, they do not accept it. If it does not require them to take on responsibility and to be responsible for it, they accept it reluctantly, but still must see whether the work is tiring or bothersome, and despite their reluctant acceptance of the duty, they are unmotivated to perform it well, preferring still to be perfunctory. Leisure, no labor, and no bodily hardship—this is their principle. The second is that when a difficulty befalls them or they encounter a problem, their first resort is to report it to a leader and have the leader handle and resolve it, in hope that they may keep their ease. They do not care how the leader handles the issue and pay this no mind—so long as they are not responsible themselves, then all is well to them. Is such performance of duty loyal to God? This is called passing the buck, dereliction of duty, playing tricks. It is all talk; they are not doing anything real. They say to themselves, “If this thing is mine to sort out, what if I end up making a mistake? When they look into who’s to blame, won’t they handle me? Won’t the responsibility for it fall first to me?” This is what they worry about. But do you believe that God scrutinizes all? Everyone makes mistakes. If a person whose intention is correct lacks experience and has not handled some sort of matter before, but they have done their best, that is visible to God. You must believe that God scrutinizes all things and the heart of man. If one does not even believe this, are they not a disbeliever? What significance could there be in such a person performing a duty? It doesn’t really matter whether they perform this duty or not, does it? They are afraid of taking responsibility and they shirk responsibility. When something happens, the first thing they do isn’t try to think of a way to handle the problem, rather the first thing they do is call and notify the leader. Of course, some people try to handle the problem themselves as they notify the leader, but some people don’t do this, and the first thing they do is call the leader, and after the call, they just wait passively, awaiting instructions. When the leader instructs them to take a step, they take a step; if the leader says to do something, they do it. If the leader doesn’t say anything or give instructions, they don’t do anything and just procrastinate. Without anyone spurring them on or supervising them they don’t do any work at all. Tell Me, is such a person doing a duty? Even if they are laboring, they have no loyalty! There is one more way in which a person’s fear of taking on responsibility in performing a duty manifests. When they perform their duty, some people do just a bit of superficial, simple work, work that does not entail taking on responsibility. Work that entails difficulties and taking on responsibility, they dump onto others, and if something should go wrong, they shift the blame onto those people and keep their own noses clean. When church leaders see that they are irresponsible, they patiently offer help, or they prune them, so that they may be able to take responsibility. But still, they do not want to, and they think, “This duty is hard to do. I’ll have to take responsibility when things go wrong, and I may even be cleared out and eliminated, and that will be the end for me.” What kind of attitude is this? If they have no sense of responsibility in performing their duty, how can they perform their duty well? Those who don’t genuinely expend themselves for God can’t perform any duty well, and those who fear taking responsibility will only delay things when they perform their duties. Such people are not trustworthy or dependable; they only perform their duty to get food in their mouths. Should “beggars” like this be eliminated? They should. The house of God does not want such people. These are the three manifestations of people who are afraid of taking on responsibility in performing their duty. People who are afraid of shouldering responsibility in their duty cannot even reach the level of a loyal laborer, and are not fit to perform a duty. Some people are eliminated because of this sort of attitude toward their duty. Even now, they may not know the reason and still complain, saying, “I did my duty with fiery enthusiasm, so why did they throw me out so coldly?” Even now, they do not understand. Those who do not understand the truth spend their whole lives unable to understand why they were eliminated. They make excuses for themselves, and keep defending themselves, thinking, “It’s instinctual for people to protect themselves, and they should do so. Who shouldn’t be looking out for themselves a bit? Who shouldn’t be thinking of themselves a bit? Who doesn’t need to keep an escape route open for themselves?” If you protect yourself whenever something befalls you and leave yourself an escape route, a back door, are you putting the truth into practice? This is not practicing the truth—it is being sneaky. You are performing your duty in the house of God now. What is the first principle of performing a duty? It is that you must first perform that duty with your whole heart, sparing no effort, and protect the interests of God’s house. This is a truth principle, one that you should put into practice. Protecting oneself by leaving oneself an escape route, a back door, is the principle of practice followed by nonbelievers, and their most elevated philosophy. Considering oneself first in all things and placing one’s own interests before all else, not thinking of others, having no connection with the interests of God’s house and the interests of others, thinking of one’s own interests first and then thinking of an escape route—is that not what a nonbeliever is? This is precisely what a nonbeliever is. This sort of person is not fit to perform a duty. There are still some people like Xiaogang from the story—he is a typical example. They can’t do anything in a down-to-earth manner. They want to save trouble in everything they do. They don’t want to suffer even a little hardship or frustration. Their flesh must be at ease, they must be able to eat and sleep at regular times, and the wind mustn’t blow on them nor the sun burn them. Furthermore, they don’t take any responsibility for their work. What they do must be something they like, something they are good at, something they are deeply willing to do. If they aren’t doing what they want, they don’t have the slightest obedience. They are constantly flip-flopping and in two minds. They are never committed in what they do—they always have one foot in and one foot out. When they suffer, they want to retreat. They cannot endure being pruned. High demands cannot be made of them. They cannot suffer. What they do is entirely dependent on their own interest and their own plan—there is not a shred of obedience within them. If this kind of person cannot seek the truth and reflect upon themselves, then these practices and corrupt dispositions are difficult to change. Performing a duty as a believer in God requires at the very least a little sincerity. Do you think these people are sincere? When serious effort is required, they cower. They have not one iota of sincerity. This is very troublesome and difficult to handle. They feel that they are great, and they feel wronged even when they are dismissed or pruned. It is so troublesome if people do not seek the truth or enter the truth reality. That’s enough for this topic—let’s get to the main point.

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