43. Guileless People Are Not Necessarily Honest People
Cheng Mingjie Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province
I consider myself to be an outgoing and forthright kind of person. I speak with people in a very straightforward manner; whatever I want to say, I say it—I’m not the type to beat around the bush. In my interactions with people I tend to be a pretty straight shooter. Often, I get cheated or ridiculed for too easily placing trust in others. It was only after I started going to church that I felt I had found a place I could call my own. I thought to myself: In the past my guilelessness has put me at a disadvantage and made me vulnerable to the deception of others; but in church God wants honest people, people who have been scorned by society, so I don’t have to worry anymore about being too guileless. I felt especially comforted when I heard that God loves the honest and simple, and that only the honest shall receive God’s salvation. When I saw how distressed my brothers and sisters had become as they began to recognize their treacherous nature but could not change it, I felt even more relieved that, being honest and straightforward, I wouldn’t have to go through such distress. One day, however, after receiving a revelation from God, I finally realized I wasn’t the honest person I thought I was.
One day, I heard God say in His fellowship: “People who are honest … are not pitiable, wretched, stupid, or simplehearted…. And so, do not put this crown upon your head, thinking that you are honest because you suffer in society, are discriminated against, and are pushed around and cheated by everyone you meet. This is utterly wrong. … Being honest isn’t as people imagine—people are honest simply because they are straightforward and plain-dealing—that’s not how it is” (“To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words were a perfect characterization of my situation. Indeed, I always thought that because I don’t speak in a roundabout way and am often cheated by others, that this somehow means there is no part of me that is treacherous or cunning. As a result, I never related personally to God’s exposition of treachery and cunning in man, instead crowning myself as the quintessence of honesty. I thought that everyone else was treacherous and that I was somehow different, that I had been born with this innate honesty. My thinking was revolting to God. At this point, I remembered another passage of God’s words: “Honesty means to give your heart to God; to never play Him false in anything; to be open with Him in all things, never cover the truth; to never do that which deceives those above and deludes those below; and to never do that which is done merely to ingratiate yourself with God. In short, to be honest is to refrain from impurity in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man. … If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are one who is very unwilling to practice the truth. If you have many unspeakable confidences and are very unwilling to lay bare your secrets—your difficulties—to others so as to seek the way of the light, then I say that you are one for whom salvation will not be easily received and who will not easily emerge from the darkness. If seeking the way of truth pleases you well, then you are one who lives often in the light. If you are glad to be a service-doer in the house of God, working diligently and conscientiously in obscurity, always giving and never taking, then I say that you are a loyal saint, for you seek no reward and are simply being an honest man. If you are willing to be candid, if you are willing to give your all, if you are able to sacrifice your life for God and stand witness, if you are honest and think only to please God, and never consider yourself or take for yourself, then I say that such people are those who are nourished by the light and shall live forever in the kingdom” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me realize that what God really means by honesty, is someone who gives their heart to God without thought to their personal advancement or future plans. There is no doing business with God, no demand on payment: An honest person lives to content God. An honest person is supremely faithful to God and never tries to deceive Him. In fulfilling their duties they are diligent and never try to cheat their way out of things or go through the motions. The honest lay themselves bare in all things before God, and are also willing to share their private matters and personal troubles with their brothers and sisters. Honest people don’t give the watered-down version of the story, they call a spade a spade. Honest people hold the truth and are humane. As for me, I just didn’t get what it meant to be an honest person. In my worldly judgment of things, God’s “honest person” was what we refer to in the secular world as a “guileless person.” Little did I know that God’s “honest person” and my “honest person” hold very little in common. How ignorant I was, how preposterous!
Satan has corrupted man for thousands of years: We all grow up in an environment permeated with the repugnance and evil of Satan. Our words and behavior, the way we conduct ourselves in society, is all subject to the bidding of Satan. “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Speak out of both sides of one’s mouth,” these most famous phrases of Satan have already planted themselves in the collective unconscious of man: They are part and parcel of our lives even as they drive us to treachery and cunning. Given that all mankind is afflicted by treachery and cunning, what made me think I was somehow immune, or innately honest? I speak straightforwardly and without equivocation because I’m a frank and outright person. I’m often cheated by others because I’m ignorant and stupid, but this doesn’t mean that I’m really an honest person. When I think back, how many times have I used fakery and lies to preserve my reputation and standing? How many times have I wallowed in anxiety over my future prospects instead of believing in God with a pure and unitary heart? I feared that in giving up everything for God, that I’d be left with nothing, so I always wanted a promise from God, a guarantee that I would one day enter His kingdom. Only in that way would I be able to seek truth wholeheartedly without worry. How many times was I unfaithful to God, fussing over small losses and gains in the process of fulfilling my duties? And how many times did I make and break resolutions, speaking “high-sounding but empty words” to curry God’s favor? How many times did I refrain from opening myself up to my brothers and sisters and sharing my personal troubles and private affairs with them for fear that they would look down on me? How many times did I say only what I believed would yield me personal benefit, putting up my guard and being suspicious of others? … Looking back, it seemed that my thoughts, words and actions were all filled with treachery and deceit. As a result, my concept of faith, my contributions, my interactions with others and with God and my fulfillment of duties were all infected with treachery. You could say I was living every moment in accordance with the very essence of treachery.
Thank You God for enlightening me, for showing me that honest people are not just frank-speaking and guileless, but rather possessors of truth and humanity. Thank You also for showing me that I am not honest by God’s definition, but a person afflicted by the treacherous nature of Satan, a treachery which God has exposed. Dear God, from now on I will invest myself in becoming an honest person. I ask that You expose me and allow me to have a deeper understanding of my own treacherous nature, so that I may despise myself, deny my flesh, and soon become an honest man possessed of truth and humanity.