26. How to Look at Your Duty
By Zhongcheng, China
Almighty God says, “The most fundamental requirement of man’s belief in God is that he have an honest heart, and that he fully devote himself, and truly obey. What is hardest for man is to provide his whole life in exchange for true belief, through which he can gain the entire truth, and fulfill his duty as a creature of God” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Duties are tasks entrusted to people by God; they are missions for people to complete. However, a duty is certainly not your own personally managed business, nor is it a counterweight to your standing out from the crowd. Some people use their duties as opportunities to engage in their own management and form cliques; some to satisfy their desires; some to fill the voids they feel inside; and some to satisfy their trust-to-luck mentality, thinking that as long as they fulfill their duties, they will have a share in God’s house and in the wonderful destination God arranges for man. Such attitudes about duty are incorrect; they disgust God and must be urgently resolved” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words tell us that duties are God’s commission for mankind, and that we must approach our duty with an honest heart. It’s essential that we put aside our own interests and do our utmost to fulfill our responsibilities. This is the attitude we should hold toward our duty. But in the past, I always treated my duty as if it were my own undertaking, exploiting it to help myself stand out and to gain others’ admiration. I wasn’t focused on putting the truth into practice, but instead I was thinking about what I stood to gain or lose. This hindered the church’s work. Going through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words gave me some understanding of the nature and consequences of performing my duty that way, and now I’ve shifted my outlook on it.
In 2017, my duty in the church was to edit documents. The church leader later arranged for Brother Lin to work with me and told me to be sure to really help him along. I agreed to this happily, thinking, “I’ve heard Brother Lin was really capable. If he can grasp the principles quickly, we’ll definitely see more and more success in our team’s work. The leader will think I’m capable and really value me, so I have to help him out as much as I can.” I gave Brother Lin all the relevant principles I’d put together for him to study so he’d get a handle on everything he needed to know as quickly as possible. When he hit a roadblock in his work, I would patiently fellowship with him and help resolve his problems. After a little while, he understood some of the principles, and achieved some results in his duty. Seeing him making such quick progress made me really happy. He had gotten a grasp on things so quickly, I figured he really had potential! Our team became much more efficient and a lot was taken off of my own plate. I figured that with a little more time for Brother Lin to train, we’d get even better results in our duty.
One day, the leader said there was a church in urgent need of someone to be in charge of the editing work, and since Brother Lin was good at it and responsible in his work, he would be transferred to that church to perform his duty. I was shocked to hear this, thinking, “What? You’re transferring him? You can’t do that. I’ve put all this effort into getting him familiar with the job and with the principles, and our team’s work has just started to pick up. If he’s transferred out now, our work will definitely take a hit. Then what will people think of me? They’ll say I’m incompetent.” I got more upset as I thought about it. The leader said that after Brother Lin was transferred, I could train someone else. I didn’t say a word, but I was resistant to that idea. I thought, “You say it like it’s nothing. You think training someone is so easy? It takes so much time and effort! Besides, after Brother Lin is transferred out, all the responsibility will fall on me again. Things are so busy as it is, so with one less pair of able hands, our work will definitely suffer.” The more thought I gave it, the more opposed to it I felt. Two days later, the leader had me write an evaluation of Brother Lin. I thought, “I should focus on his weaknesses and how he shows corruption instead of his good qualities. Maybe the leader won’t transfer him, then.” I felt a little guilty after I was finished with my evaluation, and wondered if I was being dishonest. But then I figured I was just thinking of the team’s work. So, I handed my evaluation in to the leader. A few days went by without any response from the leader, and I started to feel worried, thinking, “Maybe he hasn’t seen it and is still going to transfer Brother Lin? No, I can’t be too passive. I have to think of a way to keep him.” So I tried to feel it out, asking Brother Lin, “What would you think if you were asked to take on the editing duty for another church?” Without missing a beat, he said, “I’d submit to the church’s arrangements. I’m willing to go.” I quickly responded, “When responsible for editing work, it’s important to understand the principles and be capable. Without that, work progress will definitely be hindered. I feel it’s better for you to continue doing your duty here.” To my surprise, Brother Lin wasn’t affected at all, but just said very confidently, “If the chance presents itself, I’m willing to go and rely on God.” I was disappointed that I hadn’t achieved my aim, and I felt a bit frustrated with him. One time I saw that there were some problems in his duty, and I couldn’t stop myself from getting mad and lecturing him. During that time, whenever I thought about Brother Lin being transferred, I’d get really flustered. I just couldn’t find any sense of calm in my work. I didn’t have insight into any issues in work, either. I was constantly in a daze. I felt really tormented. So I prayed to God and asked Him to guide me to know myself.
I then read these words from God: “People rarely practice the truth; they often turn their backs on the truth, and live in corrupt satanic dispositions that are selfish and vile. They look out for their own prestige, reputation, status, and interests, and they have not gained the truth. Their suffering is therefore great, their worries many, and their fetters numerous” (“Life Entry Must Begin With the Experience of Performing One’s Duty” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out truth reality. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then you are without a doubt an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat Satan; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations toward God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What is the implication of ‘for your own sake’? For Satan. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. You will not be rewarded and God will not remember you. Is this not completely in vain?” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). As I pondered God’s words, I realized that God decides whether people are doing good or evil not by whether they superficially expend themselves, how much they suffer, or how much of a price they pay, but by mainly looking at people’s motives and whether their actions are for God, or for themselves, and whether they practice the truth. I reflected on my state over that period of time and saw that my effort to help Brother Lin quickly grasp the principles wasn’t for the work of the church. I just wanted to improve the team’s efficiency through him, so that I would look good. When I saw he was about to be transferred, I was afraid that the team’s work would suffer, that my reputation and status would be harmed, so when I wrote my evaluation I intentionally highlighted his faults, trying to mislead the leader. I even said some negative things to dampen his enthusiasm for duty. How was that practicing the truth and doing my duty? I was doing my duty selfishly, not considering the overall work of the church, but just the results of the work I was responsible for, and whether my reputation and status would be harmed. I was also deceptive and hindered the church work the leader had arranged. That was me disrupting the work of God’s house, doing evil and opposing God! When I saw what a dangerous state I was in, I said this prayer to God, “Oh God, I’m so selfish and despicable. I’ve disrupted the work of God’s house for my own interest. God, I wish to repent to You.”
I then read this in God’s words: “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). I found a path of practice within God’s words. I had to rectify my motives in my duty, accept God’s scrutiny, let go of my personal interests, and uphold the work of God’s house. Brother Lin was of good caliber, and he sought the truth when faced with problems, so if he could take on work in another church, that would benefit the work of God’s house. He’d gain more practice that way, too, so I should support him. After that, I sought out the leader and opened up about my selfish, cunning motives and gave an objective, fair assessment of Brother Lin. He did end up being transferred to the other church, and I finally felt some inner peace.
At the time, I thought I’d changed a little. I never imagined that when I encountered a similar situation, my satanic nature would come to the fore again.
In the winter of 2018, Brother Chen and I were working together as team leaders. We made up for each other’s weak points, and with God’s guidance, we were seeing better and better results in our work. I really enjoyed working with Brother Chen. One time after a gathering, the leader spoke with me and said that another team needed help, and that Brother Chen would probably be transferred. I felt that Brother Chen was of good caliber, he understood the truth quickly, and was responsible in his duty, so he was really useful in moving our team’s work forward. If he left and our work was impacted, what would the leader think of me? Would he think I wasn’t competent in my work? I really didn’t want to see Brother Chen go, but considering the church’s work, I had to agree. To my surprise, the leader then went on to say there was another urgent need in the church and he wanted Sister Lu, another team member, to go help out. My heart practically stopped when I heard this. I thought, “You’re taking Sister Lu away? Brother Chen’s being transferred, and now Sister Lu is going, too. Two of the primary people in our team will be gone, so our work is definitely going to suffer. No way! I can’t let you take Sister Lu.” But then it occurred to me, “If I just flat-out refuse, won’t the leader say I’m being selfish?” I then suggested another sister who didn’t have such great caliber. After reviewing everything, the leader still felt that Sister Lu was the better choice, and asked me to fellowship with her on this change of duty. I said I would, but in my heart I was dead against the idea. After that, I sounded off to another brother, complaining about the leader being inconsiderate of my difficulties, suddenly transferring two important people. How was I supposed to do my work as a team leader? I went on and on, then suddenly realized what I was saying was wrong. Wasn’t I trying to get this brother on my side and airing my grievances? That was offensive to God. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I quickly came before God in prayer and reflected on myself. After praying, I mulled over why every time someone within my purview was soon to be transferred out, I dug my heels in, trying everything to stop it. What was the real nature behind my acting that way?
I read these words of God: “Duties are tasks entrusted to people by God; they are missions for people to complete. However, a duty is certainly not your own personally managed business, nor is it a counterweight to your standing out from the crowd. Some people use their duties as opportunities to engage in their own management and form cliques; some to satisfy their desires. … Such attitudes about duty are incorrect; they disgust God and must be urgently resolved” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). “In the context of the work today, people will still do the same type of things as are represented by the words, ‘the temple is greater than God.’ For example, people see fulfilling their duty as their job; they see bearing witness to God and battling the great red dragon as political movements in defense of human rights, for democracy and freedom; they turn their duty to utilize their skills into careers, but they treat fearing God and shunning evil as nothing but a piece of religious doctrine to observe; and so on. Are not these behaviors essentially the same as ‘the temple is greater than God’? The difference is that, two thousand years ago, people were carrying out their personal business in the physical temple, but today, people carry out their personal business in intangible temples. Those people that value rules see rules as greater than God, those people that love status see status as greater than God, those that love their career see careers as greater than God, and so on—all their expressions lead Me to say: ‘People praise God as the greatest through their words, but in their eyes everything is greater than God.’ This is because as soon as people find an opportunity along their path of following God to display their own talents, or to carry out their own business or their own career, they distance themselves from God and throw themselves into their beloved career. As for what God has entrusted to them, and His will, those things have long since been discarded. What is the difference between the state of these people and those who conducted their own business in the temple two thousand years ago?” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
As I considered God’s words, I gained more clarity on the essence of my own actions. I was resistant and stood in the way every time the leader transferred someone from my team, mainly because I treated my duty as my own personal enterprise. I always thought of those brothers and sisters as people I had trained, so they should do their duty within my own scope, driving the work in my team forward, and they shouldn’t be transferred. My thinking was so unreasonable, so absurd. Whatever caliber or strengths those brothers and sisters had was all predetermined by God for His own work. They should be placed anywhere in God’s house where they were needed. That’s a given. But I was trying to keep them under my control, treating them as tools to render service to me, to labor for me. I was resistant to anyone who wanted to transfer someone out, and I even made judgments and tried to form cliques behind the scenes. How was I any different from the Pharisees who opposed the Lord Jesus? The Pharisees saw the temple as their own sphere of influence and wouldn’t allow believers to leave it to follow the Lord Jesus. They stopped at nothing to control believers so they could preserve their own status and income, and shamelessly claimed that the believers belonged to them. As for me, I had kept brothers and sisters under my control, not wanting God’s house to transfer them. Wasn’t I expanding my own sphere of influence and opposing God? I was taking an antichrist’s path, resisting God, and I had offended His disposition! This thought frightened me, and I started to detest my selfishness and meanness. I rushed to pray to God in repentance. After that I went and spoke with Sister Lu about her transfer, and then spoke with the brother I’d deceived, fellowshiping and dissecting the nature and consequences of what I’d said so that he had some discernment. I finally gained a bit of peace.
After Sister Lu and Brother Chen were transferred, Sister Li came to the team. She had good caliber and was quick to pick up on things. There was no delay in the team’s work. I truly experienced that doing my duty for the benefit of God’s house, not for my own ends, is the real way to see God’s blessings. God will arrange the right people for the job. He will uphold His own work. One day, three months after that, when my work partner Sister Lin was back from a gathering, she told me that a nearby church was doing well with gospel work, and they really needed people to water the newcomers. The leader suggested having Sister Li go take on watering duty. I felt a bit disgruntled again, but I realized immediately that my state was wrong. I thought of all the times before I’d disregarded the interests of God’s house for my own name and status. I felt so bad, so guilty, and then these words of God came to mind: “A duty is not your own private affair, and by fulfilling it you are not doing something for yourself or managing your own personal business. In God’s house, no matter what you do, you are not working on your own enterprise; it is the work of God’s house, it is God’s work. You must constantly bear this knowledge in mind and say, ‘This is not my own affair; I am doing my duty and fulfilling my responsibility. I am doing the work of God’s house. This is a task God entrusted to me and I am doing it for Him. This is not my own private affair.’ If you think it is your own private affair, and you do it in accordance with your own intentions, principles, and motives, then you are going to be in trouble” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words made it even clearer that my duty is God’s commission for me, not my personal enterprise. I can’t just do as I please to satisfy my own interests. I should consider the interests of God’s house, seek the truth, and do what God requires. That’s the only attitude and reason a created being should have in their duty. I used to always think about my own interests, and I did plenty of things that damaged the interests of God’s house and resisted God. I knew I couldn’t live that way anymore. I had to forsake my own selfish desires and practice the truth. At this thought, I felt really relieved. I said to Sister Lin, “The leader’s arranged this to benefit the work of God’s house. We should talk with Sister Li right away about this change in her duty. We can’t impact the work of God’s house.”
Learning to let go of my own interests in my duty, thinking of the work of God’s house, knowing my place, and having a bit of conscience and reason all came from experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. Thanks be to God!