68. Reaping a Harvest From Being Pruned and Dealt With
Almighty God says: “People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words). When I read these words of God before, “People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him,” I couldn’t quite understand why people couldn’t change their own dispositions. I read God’s words earnestly every day, I always attended gatherings on time, and I submitted to whatever duty I was assigned by the church. I figured as long as I didn’t sin, did my duty well, had been a believer for years, and had read God’s words a lot, then surely my corrupt disposition would change. Why did I still have to be judged and chastised, and pruned and dealt with by God? I never truly understood these words of God until after I had been harshly pruned and dealt with a few times, and reflected on myself. Only then did I see how deeply corrupted by Satan I was, that my arrogant and conceited satanic nature was deeply rooted in me, and without being judged and chastised, and being pruned and dealt with by God, I’d never know myself, much less be purified or transformed.
In early 2016 I was doing the duty of a church leader. When I first started out, I felt I was really lacking a lot, so I constantly prayed to God and leaned on Him in my duty. I’d seek and fellowship with co-workers when I encountered an issue I didn’t understand, and I was able to accept other people’s suggestions. I was pretty humble. After more than six months of practice, I had a grasp of some principles and I could help resolve some brothers’ and sisters’ difficulties by fellowshiping on the truth. I slowly started becoming complacent, thinking, “Even though I’ve never been a church leader before, I have good caliber and I’m quick to understand God’s words. After more practice I’m sure I’ll get even better.” I was later given responsibility for an important duty and became even more smug. I was the youngest among my co-workers and I’d been in the faith for less time, but I felt that to be able to take on something so important, I must really be talented! For a while, I held my head up high even when I was walking, feeling like I had the most important duty out of everyone, as if no one could equal me. Over time, I became more and more arrogant. In discussions on church work, when co-workers made suggestions, I’d stick to my own ideas, thinking, “Is it really the way you’re making it out to be? I’ve handled things like this before, so don’t I have a better understanding of the principles? I know the best way to deal with this matter.” Sometimes when the sister I worked with took something a little too seriously, I’d lose patience, thinking that such a simple matter was easy to take care of and there was no need to go fellowshiping and seeking over and over again. Sometimes in co-workers’ meetings, I saw her suggestions weren’t adopted by other brothers and sisters, and I began to look down on her. I thought, “Even though you have been a leader longer than me, you have nothing on me at all.” One time she told me that I dragged my feet in my duty, that my progress was slow. I couldn’t take it and retorted, “I can’t accept this fellowship from you. Aren’t you involved in this work, too? Are you not responsible for it as well? How can you be so lacking in self-awareness and just push everything onto me?” At that, I just got up and walked out. The leader later learned about my behavior and dealt with me, saying I was too arrogant. I just verbally acknowledged it, saying, “I am too arrogant, and I don’t accept the truth.” I didn’t reflect on or try to understand my nature and essence, and in my duty I kept swaggering around, doing things my own way. I had some co-workers at that time who were replaced because they were lacking in caliber and they couldn’t do practical work. But I’d never been concerned about being replaced. I thought, “I’m a real talent in the church now and I’m responsible for quite a few tasks. Without me, would they be able to find another suitable person on short notice?” Just as I was becoming senselessly arrogant, I was pruned and dealt with pretty sternly.
Once, I read some articles of experience and testimony by brothers and sisters that I felt were a little superficial. I rejected them without even discussing the matter with anyone. The leader got really angry when he found out about this. He asked me, “Why’d you reject such good articles? Did you even discuss it with co-workers?” I said, “No, at the time I just felt that they were kind of superficial.” No sooner had I said this than the leader dealt with me sternly, saying, “Though these articles may be a little superficial, their experiences are genuine and they show practical understanding. They’re edifying for people. That’s what makes a good personal experience testimonial. You don’t seek the truth in your duty, and you’re wanton and arrogant. You don’t understand the truth or discuss things with others. Just tossing out perfectly good articles, stifling testimonies of experiencing God’s work, isn’t that foolish? Isn’t that something Satan would do? You are just being disruptive!” I’d been pruned and dealt with before, but never that harshly. The words “foolish,” “Satan,” “disruptive,” “wanton and arrogant” kept echoing in my head over and over, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt like I was even having a hard time breathing. Yet I still felt wronged. Even though I hadn’t discussed it with my co-workers at the time, hadn’t I told them about it afterward? God really does see into our innermost hearts. Just as I was thinking of excuses, the leader went on sternly, “You’re a law unto yourself in your actions. You could ask when you don’t understand something or discuss it with the others, but you don’t even do that. You’re so arrogant and totally lacking a God-fearing heart!” At this, I reluctantly submitted. If I really did have a bit of a God-fearing heart, I would’ve done some seeking before taking action, but instead I just did things however I wanted without asking for others’ opinions. I really was arrogant and self-righteous.
The leader conducted an inquiry on me and found that I was too arrogant, that I didn’t understand the truth, and that I wasn’t fit for such an important duty, and so I was replaced. I really fell into a state of negativity. I felt that the leader had seen right through me with this issue and thought I wasn’t someone who pursued the truth, that I was incredibly arrogant, and wasn’t even worth cultivating. I thought I didn’t have any prospects in God’s house anymore. I became more and more negative, and I was filled with misunderstandings. I felt like I had become Satan. How could I even be saved? I figured the brothers and sisters definitely thought I wasn’t the right sort of person, so what good would it do to continue pursuing? During that time, though I reluctantly appeared to be doing some duties, I didn’t want to pursue the truth. The responsible person fellowshiped with me on God’s will a number of times, but I didn’t turn myself around. She then pruned and dealt with me, saying I was intentionally difficult in my duty, always negative, that I was opposing God, and if I didn’t make a change, I’d be eliminated by God sooner or later. Hearing this scared me, and I realized the gravity of the situation. I hurried to come before God to pray and seek, and to reflect on myself. Over those six months, why hadn’t I been able to properly handle being pruned and dealt with? As I reflected, I read these words of God: “Some people become passive after being pruned and dealt with; they lose all energy to perform their duties, and end up losing their loyalty as well. Why is this? It is partly due to their lack of awareness of the essence of their actions, and this leads to their not being able to submit to being pruned and dealt with. This is determined by their nature that is arrogant and conceited, and that has no love for the truth. It is also partly due to their not understanding what the significance of being pruned and dealt with is. People all believe that being pruned and dealt with means that their outcomes have been determined. As a result, they mistakenly believe that if they possess some loyalty to God, then they should not be dealt with and pruned; and, if they are dealt with, then this is not indicative of God’s love and righteousness. Such misunderstanding causes many people to dare not be ‘loyal’ to God. Actually, when all is said and done, it is because they are overly deceitful; they do not want to suffer hardship. They just want to obtain blessings the easy way. People are not aware of God’s righteousness. It is not that He has not done anything righteous or that He is not doing anything righteous; it is simply that people never believe that what God does is righteous. In human eyes, if God’s work does not conform to their human desires, or if it is not in line with what they expected, then He must not be righteous. However, people never know that their actions are inappropriate and do not conform to the truth, nor do they ever realize that their actions resist God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Implications of God’s Determination of People’s Outcomes Based on Performance). After reading this revelation in God’s words, I finally understood that the reason I’d been so negative was that I was too arrogant and conceited and didn’t recognize the nature of my own behavior. I thought I’d just made a mistake, that dealing with me like that was way over the top. That’s why I stayed stuck in negativity, misunderstanding God and being defensive. While reading God’s words I asked myself if I’d really been pruned and dealt with so harshly for just one single mistake. There are principles in how God’s house deals with people. It’s all based on people’s nature and essence, and their general behavior. The leader didn’t deal with me for no good reason. So then, what problems really existed within me that resulted in me being pruned and dealt with so sternly?
I later 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” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition). There are also sermons that mention that when some people have some gifts, or have some caliber, they look down on others. They don’t want to listen to anyone else, thinking they’re better than everyone else. That kind of person is arrogant, conceited, and self-righteous. I thought about how since I’d been a believer, I hadn’t focused on pursuing the truth, but had done my duty by relying on my caliber and my arrogant disposition. I felt I was well-spoken and had some small successes in my duty, so the leader really valued me. I thought I was great and capable in work, more so than the others, so I didn’t think much of the brothers and sisters I worked with. I insisted on doing things my own way, and my arrogant disposition grew and grew. Later on, I developed a really casual attitude toward the church’s work. I never sought the principles of the truth or went seeking or fellowshiped with others. Instead, I did things arbitrarily, however I wanted to, and ended up disrupting the church’s work. I always felt like I was of good caliber and that I understood some of the truth, but only after I was exposed did I finally see that what I understood was just a bit of doctrine, that I didn’t have a shred of the reality of the truth, nor could I fellowship on the truth to resolve practical issues. Despite this, I was still incredibly arrogant and acted unilaterally in everything. I was arrogant to the point that I’d lost all reason and had lost sight of God. My issue was only exposed when the leader came to review my work. I thought about how I’d been doing my duty that way all along. Not only had I not helped or benefited my brothers and sisters, but I’d also revealed so many corrupt dispositions that constrained them. I hadn’t been doing my duty, I’d been simply doing evil! The more I thought about it, the more alarmed I became. I knew that when someone acts out of arrogance, it’s impossible for them to avoid resisting God and doing evil. I thought about some brothers and sisters who seemed to be of lower caliber than me, but they were careful and attentive in their duties. They knew how to seek the truth and accept others’ viewpoints, while I was so arrogant that I was utterly lacking in self-awareness. I had absolutely no awareness of how to seek the truth. The more I reflected, the more I felt my path wasn’t one of pursuing the truth. I had been so arrogant and had thought nothing of God, so when I was pruned and dealt with, and dismissed from my duty, that was actually God protecting and saving me. Without that, who knows how much more evil I might have done. I would’ve even gotten to the point of no return and facing expulsion. Then it would be too late for regrets. After understanding God’s good intentions, I was filled with remorse. For the past six months, I’d been misunderstanding and blaming God, being negative and slacking off in work. I just couldn’t be reasoned with! From then on, I just wanted to do my duty well to make up for my past transgressions.
Six months later, I was elected as a team leader. At the time, I was really afraid that I’d stumble and fail again because of my arrogant nature. When issues cropped up in my duty, I was pretty cautious, and I often held discussions and fellowshiped with the brothers and sisters who worked with me, seeking the truth to resolve problems within the church. I felt much more at ease when I was doing my duty that way and I was getting along much better with brothers and sisters. A few months later I saw some success in my duty and began to feel secretly delighted again, thinking that I must be a real talent, and that no matter what duty I was doing, I could get things going quickly. Over time, my arrogant disposition started to rear its head again. Sometimes when brothers and sisters had issues they wanted to seek about with the leader, I would lose my patience with them. I would think, “Haven’t we sought about this before? Why do you need to seek more? I know the principles, so my fellowship should be adequate.” Without thinking things over, I would share my understanding with brothers and sisters and want them to accept it, but they felt uneasy and then sought about the matter with the leader. The leader later fellowshiped with us on the principles of practice, which were different from what I’d understood before. I was taken by surprise, and I thought, “Thank goodness for seeking, otherwise our duty would have been impacted.” But after the fact, I didn’t reflect on or try to know myself. I remained arrogant and unreasonable. When I saw mistakes in brothers’ and sisters’ duties, I scolded them imperiously, thinking, “If you can’t even get this little thing right, what can you do? I don’t think you’re putting your heart into it.” Over time, the others started feeling constrained by me and began to distance themselves. I constrained one sister so much that she didn’t even want to do her duty anymore. I did know I was in the wrong, but whenever something came up, I just couldn’t help but reveal my arrogant disposition. Thinking of how I’d stumbled and failed before, I did feel a faint sense of fear, but at that time I didn’t seek the truth to resolve the problem.
I later made the unilateral decision to have a sister take on an important duty. A brother warned me that she was deceitful, that she wasn’t well-suited to an important duty. I thought, “She does have a bit of an issue, but it’s not as bad as you say it is. Who doesn’t have corruptions and shortcomings?” I didn’t take this brother’s suggestion seriously at all, but just sought out the sister for fellowship and reminded her of her issues. I was shocked later when she turned out to be totally two-faced and negligent in her duty. This caused a severe loss to the work of God’s house. When the leader found out about this, he dealt with me very sternly, saying: “You just did your own thing, promoting a deceitful person. A brother warned you, but you didn’t listen to him or look into it yourself. And now it’s had really serious consequences and created such a large disruption. This is down to your lack of responsibility in your duty. You don’t understand the truth and you’re arrogant. You must be replaced!” Being pruned and dealt with so severely was excruciating for me. I’d been dismissed from my duty right in front of so many other brothers and sisters, and the leader had stressed what a disruption I’d caused and that I had to be replaced. I felt like that was it for me, that I’d certainly be eliminated, and to pursue any longer was useless. I became really negative after I was replaced. I’d think about what had happened in bed every night and start crying. I felt too ashamed to see anyone else for quite a while. I saw that the brothers and sisters were all happily doing their duties and felt like I was nothing like them because of my arrogant nature. Without discussing it with anyone or taking advice, I had promoted a deceitful person, seriously disrupting the church’s work. Could I still be saved by God? I never imagined my path of faith would come to an end at such a young age. I even started to suspect that when God said being pruned and dealt with was salvation, not elimination, that didn’t apply to me. My heart was full of misunderstandings. Once when the leader came to fellowship on work with us, I hid in the very farthest corner. I was really taken aback when he suddenly called my name and asked me what progress I’d made recently. He went on to ask if I’d become negative after being pruned and dealt with, and then he earnestly fellowshiped with me and exhorted me, saying “You’re still young. You should pursue the truth and focus on dispositional change.” Hearing these heartfelt words from the leader was so comforting and encouraging for me that I couldn’t stop crying. I’d been so arrogant and conceited, irresponsible and slipshod in my duty, and had seriously harmed the church’s work. The leader had been right to replace me and to prune and deal with me, but I never imagined he’d also encourage me. I thanked God from my heart for His mercy. That night, I prayed to God through my tears and resolved to really and truly reflect on myself, and seek the truth to resolve my arrogant disposition.
I later read this passage of God’s words: “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. People who are arrogant and conceited, especially those who are so arrogant as to have lost their sense, cannot submit to God in their belief in Him, and even exalt and bear testimony for themselves. Such people resist God the most. If people wish to get to where they revere God, then they must first resolve their arrogant dispositions. The more thoroughly you resolve your arrogant disposition, the more reverence you will have for God, and only then can you submit to Him and be able to obtain the truth and know Him” (God’s Fellowship). Only through the revelation of God’s words did I see that acting based on my arrogant nature wasn’t merely an issue of revealing a bit of corruption, but mainly it made me totally disregard others and even God. It led me to rebel against and resist God, in spite of myself. Thinking back on when I’d been doing my duty, I always felt like I was a clever person and was of good caliber, so I relied on my gifts and my caliber to do my duty. I had so much confidence in myself that I hardly ever prayed to God or sought the principles of the truth. There was no place for God in my heart at all. When my duty bore no fruit, I was better-behaved, but the moment I understood the principles a bit and had a little success, I used that as my capital. I felt anything I did would be fine, I could do anything, that I could assess people and situations, and so I became even more arrogant, conceited and self-righteous, going my own way in everything, being autocratic. I even stood in the way of brothers and sisters seeking the truth with the leader and imposed my thinking upon them, as if it were the truth, getting them to accept it and submit to it. The facts showed me that I was acting according to my arrogant nature, that I did nothing but constrain and harm brothers and sisters, and seriously disrupt the work of the church. I had even played the part of Satan’s minion. The leader dealing with me, calling out this severe disruption, was entirely correct. Being dismissed from my duty completely showed God’s righteousness. I finally saw how terrifying, how deadly that kind of arrogant nature is. If it’s left unresolved, I could be liable to do evil and resist God at any point, and I could disrupt the work of God’s house, offend God’s disposition, and be eliminated and punished. After I was replaced other problems in my duty came to light. Faced with brothers’ and sisters’ reproaches, and the problems exposed in my work, I felt a lot of regret and self-reproach. I really hated myself. Why was I so arrogant? I had always felt like I was talented, that anything I did was fine, but had I done even a handful of things that satisfied God? The duty I’d performed was a tattered mess, and I’d been nothing but disruptive. If I’d had even a modicum of reverence for God, if I’d prayed or sought more, or if I’d fellowshiped and discussed things with others, if I’d been just a little more cautious, I wouldn’t have gotten to the point of me doing so much in defiance of God.
In my effort to resolve my arrogant nature, I later read some of God’s words, “People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words). Reading this passage again, I really appreciate that the only path to resolving a person’s arrogant nature is to accept being judged, chastised, pruned, and dealt with by God. Our corruption by Satan goes so deep, so if we just rely on reading God’s words and personal reflection, our understanding of ourselves will be superficial and our corrupt dispositions won’t change. Without God exposing me, pruning and dealing with me time after time, I’d still be overconfident and think I was really something. I wouldn’t know myself at all. I really wouldn’t know just how arrogant I was or how serious my satanic disposition was. Now, when I think back on everything I did, I feel so ashamed and full of regret. I cringe to think of it and can’t even hold my head up. But it was precisely that kind of painful lesson that allowed me to gain a little understanding of my arrogant nature, and to know where I was likely to stumble and fail. It also gave me some reverence for God. I also saw that I completely lacked both the reality of the truth and a truth-seeking heart in my duty. I was presumptuous, arbitrary, and disruptive. And I fell far short of those brothers and sisters of average caliber, but who did their duty conscientiously. My arrogance was baseless. After realizing all this, I was more humble in my duty and wasn’t overly confident anymore. I consciously practiced putting myself aside and denying myself, I sought the principles of the truth more and listened to brothers and sisters more. I started having open discussions to resolve any problems in the church. Sometimes when I showed my arrogance again, or violated principles in my duty, I would practice putting myself aside, and accept being pruned and dealt with, as well as others’ guidance and help. Over time, I felt that practicing that way was really beneficial. Since my understanding of the truth was shallow and I lacked insight in a lot of things, by working with brothers and sisters and getting everyone’s views aligned, I could gain more understanding of things. By doing my duty that way, before I knew it, I had God’s protection. I no longer made big mistakes or had big issues, and under the supervision of brothers and sisters, my arrogant nature was reined in a bit. Putting this into practice gave me a sense of peace and calm, and gradually, I was acting out of arrogance less and less. Once, the sister working alongside me said, “I’ve known you for almost two years now. You used to be so arrogant and other people always felt constrained by you, but now you’ve really changed.” At that point I felt like I was about to cry. I had been so incredibly arrogant. Changing even this little bit hadn’t come easily. Thinking back over the last few years, those two unforgettable times of being pruned and dealt with were the most helpful and beneficial for me. If I hadn’t gone through that, even now I’m certain I wouldn’t possess normal humanity, that I wouldn’t think of God at all. I’d be on a dangerous precipice, on the verge of opposing God at any moment. I now truly know that being pruned and dealt with is God’s protection and salvation for me.