42. Breathing Easy Without Jealousy
By Anjing, China
In January of 2017, I was given the duty of watering within the church. I was so grateful to God for the chance to train on this duty, and resolved to do it attentively and well. After some time, I achieved some results, whether in helping brothers and sisters put their states right, or fellowshiping with them in gatherings. My brothers, sisters and the church leaders all thought highly of me, and I began to feel very pleased with myself, that I was doing great.
In June, my church leaders arranged for Sister Wenjing to work with me on this duty, and asked me to help my sister out where she needed it, which I happily agreed to do. As we got to working together, I found that Sister Wenjing pursued the truth, and her caliber and her way with words were all pretty good. Seeing this, I became a little wary of her. I began to think: “With a bit more training, she’s going to surpass me. Our brothers and sisters will surely start looking up to her, the leaders will spend more time nurturing her talent, and then no one will look up to me anymore.” But what I was afraid of eventually happened. After a gathering one day, I went to see a church leader to give her experience testimonials, written by myself and Sister Wenjing. After reading them, our church leader smiled and said, “Sister Wenjing’s testimonial article isn’t bad. There are some practical experiences here, and she writes very well.” Hearing her praise Sister Wenjing like this, I felt very unhappy. I thought to myself: “Sister Wenjing has a good caliber, it’s true. But I’ve resolved more problems in work than she has. I’m still better than her in that respect. I’ll have to work harder—I can’t let her overtake me, otherwise I’ll lose my position here.”
A few days later, Sister Wenjing wrote another experience testimonial. Our church leader read it, and once again praised Sister Wenjing’s caliber and the positivity with which she had written her article, and asked me to spend more time on mine. I bristled at her words, and began to blame the leader, thinking: “You’re always going on about how great Wenjing’s caliber is. Is she better than me at everything? Sister Wenjing only has to attend a handful of gathering places, leaving her plenty of time to write these articles. If I wasn’t so busy with church work, I’d have lots of free time to write articles, too.” I was sick of hearing her being praised, so I just said to my church leader, bluntly: “I can write, too.” A week later, the other church leader praised Sister Wenjing’s experience testimonials as being highly practical, and encouraged her to write more, while also asking me to write as proactively as her. I was really upset—she’d only been here for a short time and had already written two experience testimonials, and she was being praised by the church leaders. I’d been doing this duty for some time but had only written one—what would the church leaders think of me? Would they say that I wasn’t able to organize my time, that I wasn’t willing to suffer or pay a price to write my testimonials? I’d already been shown up by the quality of Sister Wenjing’s superior caliber, and now that she was able to write these articles, the leaders were sure to think her better than me. If she kept on writing them, wasn’t I going to look even worse? What I had to do, I decided, was to find a way to keep her busy, so that she wouldn’t have time to write these articles and there wouldn’t appear to be much difference between us in the eyes of the leaders. In order to maintain my status in the church, I began to dial up the pressure on her, and delegated several fellowship meeting groups to her. Seeing how busy she became every day after this, I thought about offering to take back some of her responsibilities. But I thought to myself: “If you weren’t this busy, then you’d have time to write those articles. It’s best to keep you busy.” One evening, I caught her writing one, and in a stern tone I pressed her for details about the work of all the groups she was in charge of, and found out that there were a few new believers whose problems had not been resolved. I reprimanded her, telling her that she wasn’t being attentive in her duty. After I was done dressing her down, she just lowered her head, and said nothing.
A month later, a church leader saw how Sister Wenjing hadn’t been having much success with the groups she was responsible for and how there were still some problems she had left unresolved, and she asked me what was going on. I thought to myself: “You thought so highly of her, but now you know she hasn’t been achieving much in her duty, you won’t be regarding her so highly anymore!” But, to my surprise, she made a point of asking me to help her out even more! I was very resistant to this. “You only have eyes for Sister Wenjing,” I thought. “Her caliber is better than mine. If I keep on helping her out, she’ll end up replacing me.” I started making excuses, but the church leader saw through to my state. She exposed my selfishness and meanness, and said that I wasn’t upholding the work of God’s house. She also said that Sister Wenjing had a good caliber and was worth training, that I had to fellowship with her and help her more, and that I couldn’t only be concerned about my own status and reputation. Later on, I forced myself to ask Sister Wenjing if she was having any difficulties performing her duty. I saw that she felt constrained by me and didn’t want to open up to me. That should have given me cause to reflect on myself, but I disliked her and thought to myself: “I tried to help her, but she doesn’t want to say anything.” Little by little, my spirit became darker. When discussing the work of the church, I became oblivious to a number of obvious problems that were arising. The more I saw her, the more annoyed I was by her presence. One day I saw her making a mistake, and I became angry and reprimanded her sternly, saying, “We’ve already discussed this problem, and you still haven’t resolved it. You always take care when you’re writing those articles—it’s a shame you can’t do the same when you’re doing your duty!” After this, Sister Wenjing felt very constrained by me and dared not write any more testimonials. I knew that I’d hurt her, but I couldn’t help it—I always found myself getting angry with her, without meaning to. I was suffering at heart, too, so I prayed to God to help me get out of this state.
The next day, during a gathering, Sister Wenjing said that she felt as though her deficiencies were too great, that she wasn’t up to doing this duty and wanted to go back to the duty she was doing before. Hearing this, I immediately thought: “Is this all because of the pain I’ve caused her? If that’s true, then I’ve really done something evil.” I became a little panicked and afraid. I asked her the reason behind all this, and fellowshiped on God’s will to help her. After fellowshiping with her, her state greatly improved, and—to my great relief—she said that she was willing to carry on with this duty. Just then, a church leader came by. When she found out that I’d been stifling Sister Wenjing and that Wenjing hadn’t wanted to keep working with me, she dealt with me harshly. She said, “Why can’t you fellowship with her calmly and help her when you see her doing things wrong? Instead, you get hot-blooded and treat her badly. The results of your duties have been noticeably bad of late—you need to engage in some earnest self-reflection.” What she said really got to me. I became tearful, and inside I felt wronged and started to protest: “If things haven’t been going well with work recently, it hasn’t only been because of me—why am I the only one being dealt with?” But then, I thought of God’s words: “If you believe in God’s sovereignty, then you have to believe that everyday occurrences, be they good or bad, do not happen at random. It is not that someone is deliberately being hard on you or targeting you; this was all arranged by God. Why does God orchestrate all these things? It is not to reveal you for who you are or to expose you; exposing you is not the end goal. The goal is to perfect you and save you” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Gain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You). It was true—it was by God’s permission that I was encountering all these people, events, and things now. It wasn’t that the church leader was making things difficult for me deliberately; it was my own corrupt disposition that I needed to reflect on and resolve. I had to stop making excuses and complaining—I had to keep an obedient heart and accept what was going on. When I thought of this, I felt a little less aggrieved by everything that had happened.
That evening, I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed, tossing and turning, while everything that had happened that day kept playing itself over in my head, like a movie. I kept asking myself: “If God arranged for the church leader to deal with and prune me, what is it that I should learn from all this? How have I been treating Sister Wenjing?” I knew well that she was of good caliber, but I hadn’t tried to learn from her—instead, I had tried to compete with her. She had wanted to write articles bearing witness for God, but I had tried to destroy her enthusiasm for writing these articles. How could I have done something so wicked? What had been the thinking behind that, and where did it come from?
The next day during my devotionals, I read a passage of God’s words: “Some people are always afraid that others will steal their limelight and surpass them, obtaining recognition while they themselves are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only of oneself, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for the duties of others, and thinking only about one’s own interests and not the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them. If you are truly capable of being considerate of God’s will, then you will be able to treat other people fairly. If you give someone your recommendation, and that person is cultivated into someone of talent, thereby bringing one more talented person into God’s house, will you not then have done your work well? Will you not then have been loyal in performing your duty? This is a good deed before God, and it is the sort of conscience and reason people should possess” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). “Cruel mankind! The connivance and intrigue, the snatching and grabbing one from another, the scramble for fame and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? Despite the hundreds of thousands of words God has spoken, no one has come to their senses. People act for the sake of their families, sons and daughters, for their careers, future prospects, position, vainglory, and money, for the sake of food, clothing, and the flesh. But is there anyone whose actions are truly for the sake of God? Even among those who act for the sake of God, there are but few who know God. How many people do not act out of their own interests? How many do not oppress or ostracize others in order to protect their own position?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Wicked Will Surely Be Punished). What God’s words spoke of was exactly my own state. As it turned out, I had been vying with my sister for recognition and reputation. I had been trapped by my desire for fame and status, and I was unable to extricate myself from it. Since I had started working together with Sister Wenjing in this duty and saw her good caliber and her passion for writing experience testimonials, and her being praised by the church leaders, I’d been jealous and unwilling to accept it. I’d been pitting myself against her, privately competing with her in my own mind. I had put her in charge of multiple meeting groups so that she wouldn’t have the time to write her articles, and when she’d been having problems in her duty, not only had I not helped her, but I’d scolded her until she became passive and constrained. I knew that she was of good caliber and was worth training, and that I should’ve been helping her more. But I’d been envious of her abilities, and I hadn’t wanted anyone else to be better than me. When I realized that she was better than me, I’d become jealous and spiteful. To maintain my own status and reputation, not only did I not help her, but I oppressed her and tried to destroy her enthusiasm for writing articles. I was so malicious and despicable! God had graced me, allowing me to train in performing watering duty. I hadn’t performed my duty properly to repay God’s love, but had instead been jealous of Wenjing’s abilities and vied with her for fame and gain. I was without a shred of conscience or reason. I felt filled with remorse and self-blame, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to find the source of this problem.
Afterward, I read God’s words: “Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). As I pondered God’s words, I understood that fame and gain were shackles that Satan uses to bind us, and tools used by Satan to corrupt us. I had been unable to free myself from the shackles and restraints of fame and gain because my life goals, ideas and views had always been wrong. I hadn’t been conducting myself based on God’s words and in accordance with His demands—I had been doing so in accordance with the satanic rules of living which Satan instills in us of, “Stand out above the rest,” “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” and “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries.” Whether it was at school or working in society, I had always struggled day and night to win fame and gain, to be number one and satisfy my ambition to stand out from the crowd. After believing in God, I had still lived in thrall to reputation and status. When I was praised and held in high esteem by brothers and sisters in my duty, and my desire for fame, gain, and status was being met, I would revel in the joy of standing out and I’d feel so happy. But, when I saw that Sister Wenjing was better than me, I’d grown jealous of her abilities. I was afraid that she would outshine me and constitute a threat to my position, so I’d done everything I could to suppress and oppress her without sparing a thought for the interests of God’s house, or for her feelings. In that moment, I saw clearly that I’d become a devoted slave to fame and gain, and that in the hunt for those things I’d lost my conscience and reason. I’d become insidious, malicious, growing more and more selfish and mean-spirited, and I had lived out nothing but an image of the devil Satan. Fame, gain, and status had truly become the tools by which Satan had corrupted and ensnared me into resisting and betraying God. I thought of those antichrists who had been expelled from God’s house before: They had prized status above all else. For the sake of status, they had excluded and oppressed their brothers and sisters and had punished and expelled people at will. In the end, they committed all kinds of evil and were eliminated. I’d revealed my own antichrist’s disposition in the way I’d treated and behaved toward Sister Wenjing, and I knew that if I didn’t accept God’s judgment and purification, and earnestly repent, then sooner or later I’d be eliminated too just like those antichrists. I saw that I was in a dangerous state, that the darkness in my spirit and my failures in my duty were God’s stern judgment and discipline. God’s will was that I should reflect on myself and turn back, and quit the wrong path I was following, before it was too late.
So, I prayed to God, and asked Him to guide me toward the path of practice. I then read this in God’s words: “Consider this: What sorts of changes must a person make if he wants to refrain from becoming ensnared in these conditions, be able to extricate himself from them, and become liberated from the vexations and bondage of these things? What must a person obtain before he is truly able to be free and liberated? On the one hand, he must see through things: Fame and fortune and positions are but tools and methods that Satan uses to corrupt people, to entrap them, to harm them, and to cause their depravity. In theory, you must first gain a clear understanding of this. Furthermore, you must learn to let go of these things and set them aside. … You must learn to let go and set aside these things, to recommend others, and to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle or rush to take advantage the moment you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain glory. You must learn to back off, but must not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who works in quiet obscurity, and who does not show off to others while you loyally perform your duty. The more you let go of your prestige and status, and the more you let go of your own interests, the more peaceful you will become, and the more space will open up within your heart and the more your state will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker your state will be. If you do not believe it, try it and see! If you want to turn this sort of state around, and not be controlled by these things, then you must first set them aside and give them up” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). “The functions are not the same. There is one body. Each does his duty, each in his place and doing his very best—for each spark there is one flash of light—and seeking maturity in life. Thus will I be satisfied” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 21). God’s words showed me the path of practice. They showed me that, when jealous thoughts occurred to me, I must pray to God and forsake my own flawed intent, cast aside my own personal interests, put the work of God’s house before all else, and be considerate toward God’s will. All of us have our own strengths and weaknesses—but God’s will is that we learn from each other’s strengths and compensate for our weaknesses, so that everyone can stand at their post and serve their purpose as best they can. Sister Wenjing was of good caliber, one who pursued the truth. The reason God’s house arranged for her to work with me was not so that I would become jealous of her abilities and compete with her in showing off, but so that I could learn from her strengths and make up for my own weaknesses. This was God’s kindness toward me. I had to correct my attitude; Sister Wenjing was better than me and had her strong points, I had to face the facts, and admit to my own weaknesses and shortcomings. I had to learn from my sister. I’d been doing this duty for a while and understood more of the principles. As such, I had to do what I could to help my sister, so that we could do our duty together in harmony.
I later approached Sister Wenjing and opened up to her about the corruptions I’d been revealing. I apologized to her, and she opened her heart to me and fellowshiped about what she’d learned in this situation. She comforted me and encouraged me, and I felt so very ashamed and guilty. Afterward, when I saw her having difficulties in her duty, I’d sometimes think to myself: “If I help her resolve this problem, the leaders will only see her doing a good job. No one will know what I did to help her. The opportunity to stand out and show off will be hers alone.” Because of this, I’d feel a little reluctant to help her—but I’d quickly become aware that, once again, I was trying to compete with her for fame and gain, and I would pray for God’s help in setting right my motives, and would take the initiative to go help her. Over time, my state improved. I no longer felt that pain and dejection I used to have in the bottom of my heart, and my relationship with Sister Wenjing became much more harmonious. Sister Wenjing would fellowship with me openly about her state or what she had gained, and my heart was filled with sweetness and joy.
Going through this experience allowed me to recognize the true corruption of my jealousy and my malicious humanity. It caused me to despise myself, while at the same time helping me to come to some practical understanding of God’s righteous disposition. It helped me learn how to escape from the shackles and restraints of my own jealousy, and I tasted the peace and stability that come from conducting myself in accordance with God’s word the truth. It gave me the will to pursue the truth, cast off my corrupt disposition, and do my duty well. Thanks be to the salvation of God!