How to Pursue the Truth (20)
The diverse topics we are fellowshiping about involve practical matters of daily life. After listening to this content, don’t you feel that the truth is not empty, that it isn’t a slogan, a kind of theory, or especially a kind of knowledge? What is the truth related to? (It is related to our real life.) Truth is related to real life, to various events happening in real life. It touches upon all aspects of human life, on various issues people encounter in daily life, and it especially relates to the goals people pursue and the paths they take. None of these truths are empty, and they are certainly not dispensable; they are all essential for people to have. In daily life, when it comes to certain practical issues, if you can approach, resolve, and handle these things based on the truth principles we fellowship about, then you are entering into the truth reality. If in your daily life, you stick to your original thoughts and viewpoints toward these issues involving the truth and do not change, if you approach these issues from your own human perspective, and the principles and basis for how you view these things have nothing to do with the truth, then obviously you are not someone who is entering into the truth reality, nor are you someone who pursues the truth. No matter what aspect of the truth we are fellowshiping about, the topics involved are all about correcting and reversing the erroneous thoughts, viewpoints, notions, and imaginings people have in diverse matters, so that they might have correct thoughts and viewpoints on the various matters they come into contact with in daily life, and that they might view these things that happen in real life from the correct perspectives and standpoints, then use the truth as their criterion to resolve and handle them. Listening to sermons is not about being equipped with doctrine or knowledge, it’s not about broadening one’s horizons or gaining insight—it’s about understanding the truth. The purpose of understanding the truth is not to enrich one’s thoughts or spirit, or to enrich one’s humanity, but to enable people not to break away from real life while on the path of believing in God, and, whenever they encounter various things in daily life, to view people and things, comport themselves, and act with God’s words as their basis and the truth as their criterion. If you have been listening to sermons for this many years and have made progress in the areas of doctrine and knowledge, and you feel spiritually enriched and your thoughts have become more elevated, but when you encounter many things in daily life, you still cannot view these issues from the right perspective, nor can you persist in practicing, viewing people and things, comporting yourself, and acting according to the truth principles, then clearly, you are not someone who pursues the truth, nor someone who is entering into the truth reality. More seriously, you have not yet reached the point of submitting to the truth, submitting to God, or fearing Him. Of course, it can be very clearly confirmed that you have not embarked on the path to salvation. Isn’t that so? (Yes.)
Based on your real stature and circumstances right now, in what aspects do you feel that you have entered into the truth reality? In what aspects do you have hope for salvation? In which areas have you yet to enter into the truth reality but fall far short of the standard for salvation? Can you measure this? (In situations where antichrists and evil people disturb the work of the church, causing harm to the interests of God’s house, I lack a sense of justice and genuine loyalty to God. I am unable to stand up and defend the interests of God’s house, and I do not have a testimony in these crucial matters. In this respect, I am clearly falling far short of the standard for salvation.) This is a real problem. Let everyone discuss it further. Apart from recognizing your stature involving issues of discerning and rejecting antichrists, in other respects, what things have you encountered in your daily life that make you feel that you haven’t entered into the reality, that you cannot practice according to the truth principles, and although you understand doctrine, you still lack clarity in the truth, you lack a clear path, and you don’t know how to align with God’s will, or how to abide by the principles? (After fulfilling my duty for so many years, I thought I could leave my family, abandon my career, and let go to some extent of my emotions toward my parents and relatives. However, occasionally I have met with certain real-life situations that made me realize that there are still emotions inside of me, and I want to be by my parents’ side taking care of and being filial to them. If I am unable to do this, I feel that I owe them. Through listening to God’s recent fellowship about parents not being our creditors, I realized that I don’t understand this aspect of the truth, and I haven’t submitted to the truth or to God.) Who else would like to keep going? Do you not encounter difficulties in your daily life? Or do you live in a vacuum and never face any problems? Do you encounter difficulties when fulfilling your duties? Are you ever perfunctory? (Yes.) Do you ever indulge in fleshly ease and comfort? Do you work for fame and status? Do you often worry or feel anxious about your prospects and alternatives? (Yes.) Then how do you handle these situations when you face them? Are you able to use the truth to resolve them? You hold on to a backup plan when you are promoted, and you worry about your prospects and destination, misunderstand and blame God, or flaunt your qualifications when being let go from your position—do you have these problems? (Yes.) How do you handle and resolve these situations when you meet with them? Do you follow your selfish desires, or can you uphold the truth principles, forsake the flesh, and forsake your corrupt disposition in order to practice the truth? (God, whenever I encounter these situations, I doctrinally understand that I shouldn’t act according to the preferences of my flesh or my corrupt disposition. Sometimes my conscience is stirred and feels a sense of reproach, and I make some changes in my behavior. But it’s not because my viewpoints on these matters have changed, or I am able to practice the truth. Sometimes, if my selfish desires are relatively strong, and I feel that this difficulty is too great, then even if I get a burst of energy, I still can’t practice it. At that point, I will follow my corrupt disposition, and not even the outward good behavior remains.) What kind of situation is this? Do you end up practicing the truth and standing firm in your testimony, or do you fail? (I fail.) Do you reflect afterward and feel remorse? Can you make improvements when facing similar situations again? (After failing, I will feel a bit of unease in my conscience, and when I eat and drink God’s words I can relate them to myself, but the next time I encounter these situations, the same corrupt disposition still reveals itself. There’s relatively little progress in this aspect.) Don’t most people find themselves in this state? How do you view this matter? Whenever they meet with similar situations, in the ways that people handle them, apart from their behavior improving due to the effect of their consciences, or their behavior sometimes being relatively noble and sometimes relatively base according to their situations and states at the time, and according to their differing moods—aside from these, their practice has nothing to do with the truth. What is the problem with this? Does it represent a person’s stature? What kind of stature is it? Is it a small stature, or is it weakness, a deficiency in their humanity, or a manifestation of not practicing the truth? What is it? (A small stature.) When one’s stature is small, they cannot practice the truth, and because they cannot practice the truth, their stature is small. How small is it? It means that you haven’t yet obtained the truth in this matter. What does it mean that you haven’t yet obtained the truth? It means that God’s words have not yet become your life; God’s words are still a kind of text, a doctrine, or an argument to you. They have not yet been wrought into you or become your life. Consequently, these so-called truths that you understand are merely a kind of doctrine or slogan. Why do I say this? Because you can’t turn this doctrine into your reality. When you face things in daily life, you don’t handle them according to the truth; you still handle them according to Satan’s corrupt disposition and under the influence of conscience. So obviously, at the very least, you don’t have the truth in this matter, and you haven’t obtained life. Not obtaining life means not having life; not having life means that in this matter, you haven’t been saved at all, and you are still living under Satan’s power. No matter whether what is practiced under the influence of conscience is good behavior or a kind of manifestation, it does not represent life; it is merely a manifestation of normal humanity. If this manifestation has the influence of conscience thrown in, at best, it is a kind of good behavior. If conscience is not the leading factor, but rather one’s corrupt disposition is, then this behavior cannot be regarded as good behavior; it is the corrupt disposition revealed. So, in which matters have you already made the truth a reality, and obtained life? In which matters have you not yet gained the truth and made it your life, and not yet made the truth your reality? In other words, in which matters are you living out God’s words and taking them as your criteria, and in which matters have you still not done so? Calculate how many there are. If you have calculated them all, yet unfortunately there isn’t a single matter in which you acted or lived out based on God’s words, but instead acted according to your hotheadedness, to your notions, to the preferences or desires of the flesh, or to your corrupt disposition, then what will be the final result? The result will be bad, will it not? (Yes.) As of today, you have listened to sermons for many years, forsaking your family, abandoning your career, suffering hardship, and paying the price. If this is the result, is it something to be happy and celebrate or something to be sad and worried about? (Sad and worried.) A person who doesn’t make the truth a reality, who doesn’t make God’s words their life, what kind of person is that? Isn’t it a person who lives under the complete control of Satan’s corrupt disposition, who is unable to see the hope of salvation? (Yes.) Have you ever thought about these questions when you normally read God’s words and examine yourselves? Most people haven’t, right? Most people just think, “I started believing in God at the age of seventeen, and now I’m forty-seven. I’ve believed in God for so many years, and I’ve been hunted several times, but God has kept me safe and helped me to escape. I’ve lived in caves and grass huts, gone days and nights without eating, and spent so many hours without sleep. I’ve endured so much suffering and run so many miles, all for the sake of fulfilling my duty, doing my job, and completing my assignment. My hope for salvation is so great, I’ve already begun walking the path of salvation. I’m so lucky! Thanks truly be to God. This is His grace! I was worthless in the eyes of the secular world, no one thought much of me, and I never considered myself anyone special, but because of God’s raising up, because He lifted me—the needy—out of the dung heap, I was put on the path of salvation, allowing me the honor to fulfill my duty in His house. He elevated me and He loves me! Now I understand so much truth and have worked for so many years. Receiving my reward in the future is a definite thing. Who could take that away?” If these were the only things you could think of when you examine yourselves, wouldn’t that be troublesome? (Yes.) Tell Me, you’ve believed in God for so many years, you’ve suffered so much, traveled so far, and done so much work. Why after this much believing have some people now been moved to Group B? Why do many leaders and workers now have to repay offerings and carry the burden of debts? What’s going on? Haven’t they already been saved? Don’t they already have the truth and haven’t they obtained life? Some people considered themselves to be the pillars and cornerstones of God’s house, to be rare talents here. How are things now? If this many years of suffering and paying the price had resulted in them receiving life and having the truth reality, in them submitting to God’s words, having true reverence for God, and faithfully fulfilling duties, would these people have been dismissed or moved to Group B? Would they have been burdened with debt or received a major demerit? Would these problems have happened? This is quite embarrassing, isn’t it? (Yes.) Have you ever thought about what the issue is? How much suffering a person can endure or how much of a price they pay for their belief in God is not a sign of salvation or of entering into the truth reality, nor is it a sign that they have life. Then, what is a sign of having life and the truth reality? Broadly speaking, it’s whether a person can practice the truth and handle matters according to principles; specifically, it’s whether a person views people and things, comports themselves and acts with the truth principles, whether they can act according to the truth principles. If, in your fulfillment of duties, you can overcome your own self, endure suffering, and pay the price in everything you do, but unfortunately you are unable to achieve the most crucial point, that is, you cannot uphold the truth principles; if no matter what you do, you always consider your own interests, always seek a way out for yourself, always want to preserve yourself; and if you never uphold the truth principles, and God’s words to you are mere doctrine, then don’t even talk about whether you are valuable, or whether your life has worth or not; at the most basic point, you do not have life. A person without life is the most pitiable. To believe in God and yet not enter into the truth reality, to not obtain life, is the most pitiful kind of person and the most lamentable thing. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) I don’t ask that you are able to practice according to the truth principles in everything, but at the very least, in the performance of your significant duties and in important matters in your daily life involving principles, you should be able to act according to the truth principles. You must at the very least achieve this standard in order to see the hope of salvation in yourself. But as for right now, you haven’t even risen to the most fundamental requirement, you haven’t achieved any of it. This is a very lamentable and deeply concerning matter.
In the first three years that they believe in God, people are happy and joyful. Every day they think about receiving blessings and having a wonderful destination. They believe that external good behaviors, such as suffering for God, running around and helping others more, doing more good deeds, and offering up more money, are things that believers in God ought to do. After believing in God for three to five years, although they understand some doctrines, people still believe in God according to their notions and imaginings. They live according to good behaviors, their consciences, and good humanity, rather than living according to the truth principles, or making God’s words their life and the criterion by which they view people and things, and comport themselves and act. What path are such people following? Is it not the path that Paul followed? (It is.) Do you not currently find yourself in this state? If you find yourself in this state most of the time, then is listening to so many sermons useful? Regardless of which kind of sermons you listen to, you are not listening in order to understand the truth, or to view people and things, and comport yourself and act based on the truth principles in your daily life, instead you are listening for the sake of enriching your spiritual world and your human experiences. In that case, there is no need for you to listen to them, is there? Some people say, “Not listening to sermons won’t do. If I don’t listen to sermons, I lack enthusiasm in my belief in God, and I don’t have enthusiasm or motivation when it comes to performing my duty. By listening to sermons every now and then, I have a bit of enthusiasm in my belief, I feel a bit more fulfilled and enriched, and then when I encounter any difficulties or negativity in my duty, I have some motivation, and I don’t become negative most of the time.” Is listening to sermons done for the sake of achieving this effect? Most people who have listened to sermons over the years don’t leave the church, no matter how they are dealt with, disciplined, or chastened. Achieving this effect has a certain relationship with listening to sermons, but what I want to see is not merely that the dwindling fire in your heart is reignited after you listen to each sermon. It’s not just about that. Mere enthusiasm is useless. Enthusiasm shouldn’t be used for doing evil or for violating the truth principles. Enthusiasm is for making you pursue the truth with more of a goal and direction—you should strive toward the truth principles and practice them. So, can listening to sermons achieve this effect? After each sermon, it is like there is a fire in your heart, it is like you have been charged with electricity or pumped full of air. You feel replete with enthusiasm again, you know which area you should push toward next, without ever slacking or being negative, and seldom being weak. However, these manifestations are not the conditions for attaining salvation. There are several conditions for attaining salvation: Firstly, you must be willing to read God’s words and listen to sermons; secondly, and this is also the most important condition, no matter what big or small matters you encounter in your daily life, especially matters related to performing your duty and to the major work of God’s house, you must be able to seek the truth principles, rather than acting based on your own ideas, doing whatever you wish, or being arbitrary and reckless. The purpose of Me tirelessly fellowshiping with you about the truth and explaining the principles of various matters like this is not to make you do the impossible or to force you beyond your capabilities, and it isn’t merely to make you enthusiastic. Rather, it’s to make you understand God’s will more accurately, to understand the principles and basis for doing various things, and how people should act in order to satisfy God’s will, not acting based on their corrupt dispositions, thoughts and viewpoints, and knowledge when faced with matters, but replacing these things with the truth principles. This is one of the principal ways God saves people. It’s so that you can take God’s words as your basis and principles in everything you encounter, and so that His words reign in every matter. In other words, it is so that you are able to handle and resolve every matter based on God’s words, rather than relying on human intellect and preferences, or approaching them according to human tastes, ambitions, and desires. Through this manner of preaching and fellowshiping about the truth, God’s words and the truth are wrought into people, enabling them to live with the truth as their reality. This is the mark of salvation. No matter what things you face, you should put more effort into the truth principles and God’s words. This is the kind of person who pursues salvation and is wise. Those who always put effort into outward behaviors, formalities, doctrines, and slogans, are foolish people. They are not those who pursue salvation. You have never considered things like this before, or rarely considered them, so when it comes to these matters of practicing the truth principles, your mind is basically blank. You don’t think that this matter is important, so whenever you face situations that involve the truth principles, especially when it comes to certain major situations, when you face antichrists or wicked people disrupting and disturbing the church’s work, you are always very passive. You don’t know how to handle these matters, and you approach them based on your own selfish motives and feelings. You are unable to stand up to defend the work of the church, and ultimately, you always end up failing, and carelessly and hastily wrapping up the matter. If no investigations are made into these matters, you will be able to muddle your way through. If investigations are conducted to find out who is responsible, you might be removed from your position or reassigned to a different duty; or worse, you might be relegated to Group B, or some people might even be cleared out. Are these outcomes that you wish to see? (No.) If one day you really are removed from your position or made to stop doing your duty, or in a more severe case, if you are sent to an ordinary church or Group B, will you reflect on yourself? “Did I believe in God just to end up here? Did I give up my job, my prospects, my family, and forsake so much just to be put in Group B or cleared out? Did I believe in God in order to oppose Him? Surely that shouldn’t be the purpose of my faith in God? What am I believing in God for, then? Shouldn’t I ponder this? Setting aside believing in God in order to satisfy His will for now, at the very least, I should obtain the life and enter into the truth reality. At the very least, I should be able to sense which aspect of God’s words and the truth has become my life. I should be able to rely on the truth to live, and to triumph over Satan and over my own corrupt dispositions, and I should be able to forsake my own flesh and abandon my own notions. When things befall me, I should absolutely uphold the truth principles. I shouldn’t act according to my corrupt dispositions, I should be able to smoothly and naturally act according to God’s words, without any difficulties or obstacles. I should sense deeply that God’s words and the truth have already been wrought into me, become my life, and become a part of my humanity. This is an enjoyable thing, and it is something worth celebrating.” Do you normally feel this way? When you take stock of the suffering you’ve endured and the prices you’ve paid in your belief in God over the years, you will feel wonderful in your heart, you will feel that there is hope for your salvation, and that you have tasted the sweetness of understanding the truth and expending yourself for God. Have you felt or experienced such things? If you haven’t, what should you do? (Start pursuing the truth seriously from now on.) Start pursuing it seriously from now on—but how should you pursue it? You need to reflect upon the matters in which you often rebel against God. God has arranged circumstances for you again and again in order to teach you a lesson, to change you through these matters, to work His words into you, to make you enter into an aspect of the truth reality, and to stop you from living according to Satan’s corrupt disposition in those matters, and for you to instead live according to God’s words, for His words to be wrought into you and become your life. But you often rebel against God in these matters, neither submitting to God nor accepting the truth, not taking His words as principles that you should follow, and not living out His words. This hurts God, and time and time again, you lose your opportunity for salvation. So, how should you turn yourself around? Starting today, in matters which you can recognize through reflection and clearly sense, you should obey God’s orchestration, accept His words as the truth reality, accept His words as the life, and change the way you live. When you encounter situations like this, you should forsake your flesh and your preferences, and act according to the truth principles. Isn’t this the path of practice? (It is.) If you merely intend to earnestly pursue in the future, but lack a specific path of practice, that’s no good. If you have this specific path of practice and are willing to forsake your flesh and start anew like this, then there is still hope for you. If you are not willing to practice in this way and instead stick to the same old paths, sticking to old ideas, and living by your corrupt dispositions, then there’s nothing more for us to say. If you’re content just being a service-doer, then what more is there to say? The matter of salvation has nothing to do with you, and you’re not interested in it, so there’s nothing more to discuss. If you really are willing to pursue the truth and salvation, then the first step is to begin with breaking away from your corrupt dispositions, from your various erroneous thoughts, notions, and actions. Accept the environments that God has arranged for you in your daily life, embrace His scrutiny, testing, chastisement, and judgment, strive to gradually practice according to the truth principles when things befall you, and progressively turn God’s words into the principles and criterion for how you comport yourself and act in your daily life, and into your life. This is what should be manifested in a pursuer of the truth, and it’s what should be manifested in a person pursuing salvation. It sounds easy, the steps are simple, and there is no lengthy exposition, but putting it into practice isn’t so easy. This is because there are too many corrupt things within people: their pettiness, little schemes, selfishness, and baseness, their corrupt dispositions, and all kinds of tricks. On top of this, some people possess knowledge, they have learned some philosophies for living and manipulative tactics in society, and they possess some shortcomings and flaws in terms of their humanity. For example, some people are gluttonous and lazy, others are glib-tongued, some have a severely scummy nature, others are vain, or rash and impulsive in their actions, along with many other faults. There are many deficiencies and problems that people need to overcome in terms of their humanity. However, if you wish to attain salvation, if you wish to practice and experience God’s words, and gain the truth and the life, you must read God’s words more, attain an understanding of the truth, be able to practice and submit to His words, and start off by practicing the truth and upholding the truth principles. These are just a few simple sentences, yet people do not know how to practice or experience them. Regardless of your caliber or education, and regardless of your age or years of faith, in any case, if you’re on the right path of practicing the truth, with the correct goals and direction, and if what you pursue and exert is all for the sake of practicing the truth, what you ultimately gain will undoubtedly be the truth reality and God’s words becoming your life. First determine your goal, then gradually practice according to this path, and in the end, you will certainly gain something. Do you believe this? (Yes.)
What we are fellowshiping about at this stage is letting go of one’s pursuits, ideals, and desires. At our last gathering, we fellowshiped about letting go of certain burdens that come from one’s family. With regard to the topic of burdens that come from one’s family, we first fellowshiped about expectations that parents harbor, then about the expectations that parents have for their offspring. All of these are things that people should let go of in the process of pursuing the truth, aren’t they? (Yes.) With regard to letting go of one’s pursuits, ideals, and desires, we listed four items in total. The first item is interests and hobbies, the second is marriage, and the third is family—we’ve fellowshiped about these three already. What is the last, remaining item? (Careers.) The fourth item is careers; we should fellowship about this item. Have any of you pondered on this topic before? If you have, you can talk about it first. (I used to think that someone’s success or failure in their career reflects their success or failure as a person. I thought that if someone lacks dedication in their career or makes a mess of their career, it signifies that they have failed as a person.) Now, when it comes to the issue of letting go of careers, what should be let go of? (People should let go of their ambitions and desires regarding their careers.) That’s one way to view it. What things can you think to let go of when it comes to “careers” within the topic of letting go of people’s pursuits, ideals, and desires? Shouldn’t you resolve the various troubles that a career brings upon you in the process of pursuing the truth? (In the past, when I was in the secular world, I used to believe that I needed to be successful in my career, that I needed to achieve some recognition. As a result, I desperately pursued my career, wanting to distinguish myself. Even after I came to believe in God, I still wanted to stand out in God’s house, to make others look up to me. This issue became a significant obstacle to my life entry.) What you understand by career is essentially an individual pursuit; it also touches on the path that one takes. So, in our fellowship on “careers” under the topic of letting go of people’s pursuits, ideals, and desires, I won’t mention any content that touches on people’s pursuits for now. We will primarily speak about the literal meaning of “career.” What does “career” refer to? It is the work or labor that people engage in to provide for their families while living in the world. This topic falls within the scope of “careers” under the topic of letting go of people’s pursuits, ideals, and desires, that we wish to fellowship on. It is the scope and principles for engaging in a job in order to provide for one’s family, and for selecting an occupation in society, while believing in God and pursuing the truth. Naturally, this will more or less touch on part of the content about people’s pursuits and on God’s requirements for the work that a believer engages in. It can also be said to relate to the thoughts and viewpoints that a believer should have toward various jobs and careers in the world. The topics that touch on careers are quite extensive; we will sort them into categories, and by doing so help people to understand what standards and requirements God has for the careers engaged in by believers and pursuers of the truth, as well as what thoughts and viewpoints God requires believers and pursuers of the truth to have as they engage in or approach occupations. This will enable people to let go of the pursuits and desires related to careers that exist within their notions and wishes. At the same time, this will also rectify the incorrect viewpoints people have about the occupations they engage in or the careers they pursue in the world. We will separate the content on careers that people should let go of into four major items: The first item that people need to understand is to not engage in charity; the second item is to be content with just having food and clothing; the third item is to stay away from various societal forces; the fourth item is to stay away from politics. We will fellowship about issues related to letting go of careers based on the content of these four items. Have a think, does the content of these four items have any relevance to what you’ve been fellowshiping about? (It does not.) What have you been fellowshiping about? (Personal pursuits.) What you’ve been fellowshiping about doesn’t involve the truth principles, it just relates to a bit of small, personal pursuits. These four points we’re fellowshiping about involve various principles within the topic of careers. If people understand these various principles, it will be easy for them to let go of what they ought to let go of in relation to careers during the process of pursuing the truth. It will be easy for them to let go of these things because they comprehend these aspects of the truth. However, if you don’t understand these truths, it will be very hard for you to let go of these things. Let’s fellowship on these four principles for letting go of careers, one by one.
First, do not engage in charity. What does it mean to not engage in charity? It’s easy to understand the literal meaning of the words. You all more or less have some conception of the matter of charity, do you not? For example, orphanages, shelters, and such and such charitable organizations in society—these are all organizations and designations related to charity work. So, when it comes to the careers that people engage in, God’s first requirement is that they do not engage in charity. What does this mean? It means that people shouldn’t do things involving charity or be engaged in any industry related to charity. Isn’t this easy to understand? As a person who believes in God, who lives in a physical body, who has a family and a life, and needs money to support yourself and your family, you need to engage in an occupation. No matter what type of occupation you engage in, God’s first requirement for people is to not engage in charity. You should not do charity because you believe in God, or do charity for the sake of your own physical livelihood. That work is not the occupation you should engage in. It’s not an occupation entrusted to you by God, and it is certainly not a duty entrusted to you by God. Things like charity are not relevant to believers in God or to those pursuing the truth. Conversely, one could say that if you engage in charity, God will not commemorate it. Even if you do it well, to satisfaction, and you gain the recognition of society and even of the brothers and sisters, God will not recognize or commemorate it. God won’t commemorate you, or ultimately bless you, or make an exception and allow you to attain salvation, or give you a wonderful destination because you once engaged in charity, because you were once a great philanthropist, helped many people, did numerous good deeds, benefited many people, or even saved many lives. That is, engaging in charity work is not a necessary condition for salvation. Then what do matters of charity include? In reality, to a greater or lesser extent, everyone has one or two things in their minds that can definitively be considered to be a kind of charity work. For example, adopting stray dogs. Because some countries do not have strict pet control, or due to poor economic conditions, you often see stray dogs on the streets or in certain areas. What is meant by “stray dogs”? It means that some people can’t afford to keep their dogs or don’t want to, so they abandon them, or maybe the dogs got lost for some reason, and now they wander the streets. You might think, “I believe in God, so I should adopt these animals, because doing good deeds is God’s will, it is something that brings glory to God’s name, and it’s a responsibility that believers in God should take up. It’s an obligation that can’t be shirked.” So, when you see stray dogs or cats, you take them home and adopt them, living frugally in order to buy them food. Some people even invest their salaries and living expenses into this, and they ultimately adopt more and more dogs and cats, and need to rent a house. In doing so, the money for their own living expenses becomes increasingly insufficient, and their salary doesn’t cover it anymore, so they have no other option but to borrow money. But no matter how tough things get, they feel that this is an obligation they cannot shirk, a responsibility they cannot cast aside, and that they should regard it as a good deed and do it accordingly. They think that they’re practicing the truth and upholding the principles. They spend a large amount of money, energy, and time adopting these stray cats and dogs in order to engage in the work of charity, and they feel very at ease and accomplished in their hearts, they feel really good about themselves, and some people even think, “This is glorifying to God, I am adopting creatures that God has made—this is an immeasurably good deed, and God will surely commemorate it.” Are these thoughts correct? (They are not correct.) God has not entrusted you with this task. It is neither your obligation nor your responsibility. If you come across stray cats or dogs and you take a liking to them, adopting one or two is fine. However, if you treat adopting stray animals as a form of charity work, believing that charity is something that a believer in God should do, then you are greatly mistaken. This is a fallacious understanding and comprehension.
There are also people who, believing in their own capacity for survival, use the little extra money they have to relieve the poor around them. They offer them clothing, food, daily necessities, and even money, considering it a kind of obligation they should fulfill. They may even bring some poor people into their homes, share the gospel with them, and offer money for them to spend. These poor people agree to believe in God, and afterward, they supply them with food and shelter, thinking that they are fulfilling their own duty and obligation. There are also people who notice that certain orphans in society have not yet been adopted. They have a little extra spending money, so they go and help these orphans, establishing welfare homes and orphanages, and adopting the orphans. After adopting them, they provide for their food, shelter, and education, and even raise them to adulthood. Not only do they continue doing this, they also pass it on to the next generation. They believe that this is an immeasurably good deed, something that must be blessed, and an action worthy of God’s commemoration. Even during periods of spreading the gospel, some people see potential recipients of the gospel from impoverished areas who have religious convictions and feel compelled to help them and give them alms. But spreading the gospel is spreading the gospel, it isn’t charity work or providing assistance. The purpose of sharing the gospel is to bring those who can understand God’s words and accept the truth, that is God’s sheep, into His house, into His presence, giving them an opportunity for salvation. It’s not about aiding impoverished people so they can have something to eat and wear, so they can have the life of a normal person and not starve. Therefore, from any perspective and in any regard, whether it’s giving aid to pets or animals, or assisting impoverished individuals or those who can’t meet their basic needs, this matter of engaging in charity is not what God requires as part of the duty, responsibility, or obligation a person should fulfill. It is unrelated to people believing in God and practicing the truth. If people have a kind heart and are willing to do this, or occasionally come across particular people who need assistance, they can do it if they are able. However, you shouldn’t see this as a task entrusted to you by God. If you have the ability and the conditions, you can help on occasion, but this merely represents you personally, not God’s house, and certainly not God’s requirements. Of course, doing this doesn’t mean you’ve satisfied God’s will, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are practicing the truth. It simply represents your personal conduct. If you do it on occasion, God won’t convict you for it, but He won’t commemorate it either—that’s all. If you turn it into a career, opening nursing homes, welfare homes, orphanages, animal shelters, or even stepping forward during times of disaster and raising funds from the brothers and sisters in the church or from the community to donate to disaster-stricken areas or people, how well do you think you’re doing? Furthermore, some people, when certain places experience earthquakes, floods, or other natural or man-made disasters, approach the church to solicit donations from the brothers and sisters. Worse still, some even use offerings to assist these disaster-stricken places and people. They believe that this is the obligation of every believer, and an obligation that the church, as a social community organization, should fulfill. They consider this a righteous cause, not only demanding contributions from the brothers and sisters but also urging the church to allocate offerings to aid these disaster-stricken areas. What do you think of this? (It is bad.) Is it merely bad? Discuss the nature of this matter. (Offerings are meant for spreading the gospel, for expanding the work of the gospel. They are not meant for disaster relief or assisting the poor.) (Disaster relief is unrelated to the truth; doing it doesn’t signify that the truth is being practiced, and it certainly doesn’t bear witness to a change in disposition.) Some people believe that since everyone lives on the same planet, Earth’s inhabitants form one big family, and when one party is in trouble, others should band together to provide support. They think they should fully make it so people in a disaster area feel the warmth of their fellow human beings, and experience warmth and assistance from the church. They consider this an immeasurably good deed, an act that honors God, and a wonderful opportunity to bear witness to God. Some people, when you require that they stick to the principles while fulfilling duties and align their practices with God’s words and work arrangements, feel unenthusiastic and unmotivated. They don’t contemplate these things in their heart. But as for devoting offerings to provide aid to the people of impoverished or backward nations, buying them equipment for the fulfillment of duties, and helping them to lead a life of sufficient food and clothing, they become particularly enthusiastic and eager to get to work, wanting to do more and more. Why are they so enthusiastic? Because they wish to become great philanthropists. As soon as a great philanthropist is mentioned, they begin to feel especially noble. They feel particularly honored to sacrifice their efforts for the sake of these poor people’s lives and exercise their own light and warmth. They feel extremely excited about it, and consequently some people are especially willing to engage in these activities. But what’s the purpose behind this remarkable willingness to do these things? Is it really to honor God? Does God need this kind of honor? Does God need this kind of testimony? Can it be that God’s name will suffer humiliation if you don’t give money or provide assistance? Will God lose His glory? Is it possible that God will be glorified when you do this? Will He be satisfied? Is this the case? (No, it isn’t.) Then what’s the deal? Why are these people so willing to do this? Is their intention to satisfy their own vanity? (Yes.) It’s to get a thumb’s-up from those they’ve helped, to be commended for their generosity, magnanimity, and wealth. Some people always have a heroic spirit: They wish to be saviors. Why don’t you save yourself? Do you know what kind of thing you are? If you have the ability to save others, why can’t you save yourself? If you’re so generous, why not sell yourself and give the money to those people to help them? Why use offerings? If you have this ability, you should stop eating and drinking, or eat only one meal a day, and use the money you save to help those people, to let them eat well and dress warm. Why do you misuse God’s offerings? Is this not being generous at the expense of God’s house? (Yes.) Being generous at the expense of God’s house, earning the title of “great philanthropist” from others, satisfying your own vain desire to be needed by others—is this not shameless? (Yes.) Since this is a shameless affair, should it or should it not be carried out? (It should not.) The nature of God’s house expanding the gospel is not to do charity; it is about seeking out sheep who can understand God’s words, bringing these people back into God’s presence, accepting God’s chastisement and judgment, and receiving God’s salvation. This is cooperating with God’s management plan for saving humankind, not engaging in charity, not offering assistance or preaching the gospel wherever there’s poverty. That is doing charity work under the guise of spreading the gospel, in order to ensure these people are well-fed and well-clothed, use modern technology, and enjoy a modern life—can these actions save people? Such actions cannot achieve the purpose of spreading the gospel and saving people. Spreading the gospel is not engaging in charity; it’s about winning hearts, bringing people before God, enabling them to accept the truth and God’s salvation—it’s not about providing relief. Due to the needs of work in the church, some individuals abandon their work and family to focus full-time on their duties, and God’s house provides them with living expenses. But this is not relief, neither is it engaging in the work of charity. When God’s house spreads the gospel and establishes the church, it does not set up welfare institutions or shelters. It’s not about using these benefits or funds to buy people off or let them into God’s house to bum food and drink. God’s house does not support parasites or beggars, nor does it accommodate vagrants or orphans, nor does it provide relief for people who have nothing to eat. If someone can’t afford to eat, it’s because they’re lazy or incapable. It’s their own fault, and it has nothing to do with us spreading the gospel. We spread the gospel in order to win over people, to win over those who can understand God’s words and accept the truth, not to see who’s poor, who’s pitiable, who’s oppressed, or who has no one to turn to, so that we can take them in or help them. Spreading the gospel has its own principles and standards, and there are requirements and standards for potential recipients of the gospel. It’s not about seeking beggars. Therefore, if you regard spreading the gospel as a charitable endeavor, you’re mistaken. Or if you believe that when you’re fulfilling this duty of spreading the gospel and engaging in this work, you’re engaging in charity, that’s even more wrong. This direction, as well as the starting point, are both inherently wrong. If anyone holds such a viewpoint or applies such a direction to their actions, they should quickly correct and shift their point of view. God never pities the poor or those oppressed at the bottom of society. Who does God have compassion for? At the very least, it must be someone who believes in God, someone who can accept the truth. If you don’t follow God, and you resist and blaspheme God, will God have compassion on you? This is impossible. Therefore, people should not mistakenly think, “God is a compassionate God. He pities those who are oppressed, who are unpopular, who are put down, who are marginalized and have no one to turn to in society. God pities them all, and God lets them enter into His house.” This is wrong! This is your notion and imagining. God has never said or done things like that. It is merely your own wishful thinking, your ideas of human kindness, which are unrelated to the truth. Look at the people whom God chose and brought into His house. Regardless of their social class, did God pity or feel sorry for anyone because they had nothing to eat, and bring them into His house? Not a single one. On the contrary, those people who were chosen by God, no matter their social class—even if they were farmers—there are no instances of them being unable to eat, and no beggars among them. This is a testament to God’s blessings. If God has chosen you, and you are one of God’s chosen people, He will not let you become so destitute that you can’t afford to eat, or get to the point where you have to beg for food. Instead, God will provide you with clothing and food in abundance. Some people who believe in God always carry certain misconceptions with them. What do they think? “The majority of believers in God come from the lowest levels of society, and some might even be beggars.” Is that the case? (No, it’s not.) There are even people spreading rumors that I used to be a beggar. I said, “Well then, did I ever put on sackcloth or carry a staff? If you say that I used to be a beggar, how come I didn’t know about it?” I’m the one we’re talking about, yet even I don’t know; this is completely nonsensical! When God said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay His head,” what does it mean? Is God saying that He became a beggar? Is He saying that He was unsupported and couldn’t afford to eat? (No, He’s not.) He isn’t. Then what does this statement mean? It means that the world and humankind had abandoned God; it shows that there was no place for God, and God came to save humankind, yet they did not accept Him. No one was willing to receive God. This statement points to the ugly side of corrupt humankind and reflects the suffering that God incarnate endured in the human world. When God said this, some people think, “God likes beggars, and we are much better off than beggars, so our status is more elevated in God’s eyes.” Consequently, they are willing to help beggars. This is a complete misunderstanding on the part of humans, it belongs to people’s mistaken thoughts and viewpoints. It has absolutely no relation to God’s essence, His disposition, or His compassion and love.
Some people say, “You talk about letting go of the ‘career’ within the topic of letting go of people’s pursuits, ideals, and desires, and You tell people not to do charity. But why do You always emphasize treating animals well and not harming them? What is the meaning of this? Dogs and cats are even kept in God’s house, and it isn’t allowed for people to harm them.” Tell Me, is there a difference between this and doing charity? Are they the same thing? (No, they’re not.) What’s going on here? (Not harming various types of animals is an expression of normal humanity.) This is an expression of normal humanity. Then what should the practice and manifestation of normal humanity be? (Since one chooses to keep them, they have to fulfill their responsibility.) Fulfilling one’s responsibility—is there anything more specific? (They have to take care of them.) That’s a specific action. What principles should be followed? This involves the truth. Let Me explain, and you listen and see if it involves the truth. Caring for the creatures God has created is an expression of normal humanity. More concretely, it means fulfilling your responsibility toward them and taking good care of them. Since you have chosen to keep them, you must fulfill your responsibility. Pets are meant to be kept and cared for by humans. They are unlike wild animals that don’t need you to take care of them. The greatest respect and care you can show wild animals is to avoid intentionally destroying their habitat and to not hunt or kill them. As for the domestic fowl, livestock, or pets that people can keep in their homes, since you choose to keep them, you should fulfill your responsibility. That is, based on your circumstances, accompany them for a bit if you have time, and if you’re busy, just ensure that they are fed and comfortable. In essence, you should cherish them. What does it mean to cherish them? Respect the life God has created and care for the creatures He created. Cherish them, care for them: this isn’t charity, this is treating them properly. Is this a principle? (Yes.) This isn’t engaging in charity. What does charity refer to? It’s not about fulfilling a responsibility or cherishing life. It’s about going beyond the scope of your capacity and energy and making this thing into a career. This has nothing to do with raising pets. If someone can’t even muster basic love or responsibility for the pets they keep, what kind of person are they? Do they possess humanity? (They do not possess humanity.) At the very least, this person lacks humanity. In reality, dogs and cats don’t place very high demands on people. Regardless of how deeply you love them or whether you like them or not, at the very least, you should be responsible for taking care of them, you should feed them on time, and avoid mistreating them—that’s enough. Depending on your economic situation, whatever food or living situation you can afford you should provide to them. That’s it. Their survival conditions do not demand a lot. You should just refrain from mistreating them. If people can’t even muster this little bit of love, it shows how lacking their humanity is. What does mistreatment entail? Hitting and scolding them for no reason, not feeding them when they need to be fed, not walking them when they need a walk, and not taking care of them when they’re sick. If you’re unhappy or in a bad mood, you take your anger out on them by hitting and scolding them. You treat them in a way that isn’t human. That’s mistreatment. If you avoid mistreatment and can simply fulfill your responsibility, that’s enough. If you don’t even have this bit of compassion to fulfill your responsibility, then you shouldn’t keep a pet. You should release it, find someone who likes it and let them take care of it, give it a chance to live. Some people who keep dogs aren’t even able to refrain from mistreating them. They keep dogs with the sole purpose of venting their frustrations, using these dogs as an outlet when they’re in a bad mood or their spirits are low and they need to let off steam. They don’t dare to hit or scold another person, they fear the consequences and liabilities they’ll have to bear. They happen to have a pet at home, a dog, and so they vent their frustrations on the dog, because after all it doesn’t understand and won’t dare resist. Such people lack humanity. There are also people who keep dogs and cats but can’t fulfill their responsibilities. If you don’t like it, then don’t keep a pet. But if you choose to keep it, you have to fulfill your responsibility. It has its own life and emotional needs. It needs water when it’s thirsty and food when it’s hungry. It also needs to be close to people and to be comforted by them. If you’re in a bad mood and you say, “I don’t have time to pay attention to you, go away!”—that’s not good treatment for a pet. Is there conscience or reason in this? (No.) Some people say, “How long has it been since you last bathed your dog and cat? They’re so dirty!” “Humph, bathe them? I don’t even know who’s going to bathe me. When it’s been days since I last bathed no one seems to care!” Is this humane, or does it reflect any human sensibility? (No.) Regardless of whether they’re in a good mood or not, when a cat or dog rubs up against them and is affectionate to them, they just kick it away with their foot, saying, “Go away, pest! Just like a debt-collector, there’s always trouble when you are around. You only want something to eat or drink. I’m in no mood to play with you!” If you don’t even have a little bit of compassion, then you shouldn’t keep any pets. You should release them straight away. That cat or dog is suffering because of you! You’re too selfish and don’t deserve to have pets. Whenever you keep a cat or a dog, their food and water depend on your care. You should understand this principle. Why are you competing with animals? You say, “I have no one to give me a bath, who’s going to bathe me?” Who’s going to bathe you? You’re a human. You should bathe yourself. You can take care of yourself, but the cats and dogs need your care because you’re raising them, and because you’re raising them, you have an obligation to take care of them. If you can’t even fulfill this obligation, then you don’t deserve to keep them. What need is there to compete with them? You even say, “I take care of you, but who is taking care of me? When you’re in low spirits, you come to me for comfort. When I’m feeling down, who comforts me?” Aren’t you a human? Humans should self-regulate and self-adjust. Cats and dogs are much simpler: They can’t self-regulate, so they need humans to comfort them. This is the distinction between how you treat animals and doing charity. What is the principle for how you treat animals? Cherish life, respect life, and do not mistreat them. In dealing with all things God has created, keep to their natural laws, treat various creatures created by God correctly in accordance with the laws He has set, maintain proper relationships with all kinds of creatures, and don’t destroy or squander their habitats. These are the principles for respecting and cherishing life. However, the principles for respecting and cherishing life are not about doing charity. This is a principle from among the universal laws set by God that every created being should adhere to. But following this principle does not equate to performing acts of charity.
But some people ask, “Why doesn’t God let us do charity with respect to a career? If He doesn’t let us do charity, then what should be done in society about those people or living things that need assistance? Who will come to their aid?” Does it have anything to do with you who comes to their aid? (It has nothing to do with us.) Aren’t you a member of humanity? Does it have anything to do with you? (No, it’s not the mission of humans.) Exactly, it’s not your mission, nor is it what God has entrusted to you. What is your mission? To fulfill the duty of a created being, listen to God’s words, submit to God’s words, accept the truth to attain salvation, do what God tells you to do, and stay away from the things God tells you not to do. Who will take care of matters related to charity? Who will take care of them is not your concern. In any case, you are not required to take care of or worry about them. Whether it’s the government or various community organizations that handle matters of charity, this is not our topic of concern. In short, those who believe in God and pursue the truth should take following God’s way and His will as their criteria, goal of practice, and direction. This is something people should understand, and it’s an eternal truth that will never change. Of course, occasionally doing something to assist others is not a career; it’s an occasional action, and God doesn’t hold it against you. Some people ask, “Doesn’t God commemorate such things?” God does not commemorate them. If you once gave money to a beggar or to someone without the fare to get home, or assisted a homeless person; if you occasionally did something like this, or even just a few times in your lifetime, then in the eyes of God, does He commemorate such things? No, God doesn’t commemorate them. How then does God appraise these actions? God does not commemorate or condemn them—He does not appraise them. Why? They have nothing to do with pursuing the truth. These are personal actions that have no relevance to following God’s way or carrying out His will. If you are personally willing to do them, if you do something good out of a momentary burst of goodwill or temporary prodding of your conscience, or if you do something good in a moment of enthusiasm or impulse, whether you regret it later or not, whether you receive a reward or not, it has no relevance to following God’s way or carrying out His will. God does not commemorate it, neither does He condemn you for it. What does it mean that God doesn’t commemorate it? It means God won’t exempt you from His chastisement and judgment over the course of your salvation because you once did this thing, neither will He make an exception and let you become saved because you did some good or charitable deeds. What does it mean that God doesn’t condemn you for it? It means that these good deeds you did have nothing to do with the truth, they only represent your own good behavior, they do not go against God’s administrative decrees, nor do they infringe upon anyone’s interests. Of course, they don’t humiliate the name of God either, let alone glorify His name. They do not violate God’s requirements, nor do they involve going against God’s will, and they certainly don’t involve rebelling against God. Consequently, God will not condemn you for them, they merely represent a kind of personal good deed. Although such good deeds may gain praise from the world and recognition from society, in God’s eyes, they have no connection to the truth. God does not commemorate them, nor does He condemn one for them, which means that before God these actions do not amount to much. However, there is one possibility, that is, if you save someone, and provide them financial assistance or some form of material aid, or even offer them emotional help, and you enable that wicked person to succeed in their efforts, allowing them to commit more crimes and pose a threat to society and humanity, resulting in certain losses, then that would be a different matter altogether. In the case of an ordinary charitable act, God’s viewpoint is that He neither commemorates nor condemns it. But the fact that He neither commemorates nor condemns it doesn’t mean that God supports or encourages you to engage in charity work. Regardless, it is still hoped that you won’t invest your energy, time, and money into matters completely unrelated to salvation or to practicing the truth and fulfilling your duty, because you have more important things to do. Your time, energy, and life are not meant for charity work, and they’re not meant to showcase your personal character and charisma through a career of charity. Especially for those who open factories, manage schools, or run a business with the purpose of providing basic needs for more impoverished people or helping them realize their ideals, they do these things to assist the poor. If you choose to assist the poor through these methods, it will undoubtedly consume a significant amount of your time and energy. You’ll end up spending and using up a significant chunk of time and energy in your life on this cause, and consequently you will have little time to pursue the truth; you may even have no time to pursue the truth, and you certainly won’t have the opportunity to fulfill your own duty. Instead, you’ll squander your energy on people, events, and things unrelated to the truth or church work. This is foolish behavior. This foolish behavior boils down to some people always wanting to change human destiny and the world through their own good intentions and a few limited abilities. They wish to change human destiny through their own efforts and goodwill. This is a foolish endeavor. Since it is a foolish endeavor, do not undertake it. Of course, the premise for not undertaking it is that you are someone who pursues the truth, that you wish to pursue the truth and salvation. If you say, “I’m not interested in salvation, and pursuing the truth isn’t that important to me,” then you can do as you like. Regarding the matter of charity, if it is your ideal and pursuit, if you believe that it is how your value is expressed, that charity is the only thing that can convey the value of your life, then by all means, go ahead. You can use whatever skills and abilities you have, no one is restraining you. The premise we are fellowshiping about here for not engaging in charitable affairs is that, since you wish to pursue the truth and salvation, you should let go of the ideal and desire to do charity. Don’t pursue it as your life’s ideal and desire. Do not engage in this affair on a personal level, and God’s house will not engage in it either. Of course, there is one situation in God’s house, that is, caring for the home lives of certain impoverished brothers and sisters. This comes with a premise. I think all of you are aware of this premise: It isn’t charity, it’s a work arrangement internal to God’s house with respect to the lives of brothers and sisters. It’s unrelated to engaging in charity. In God’s house, apart from not engaging in charity, there is also no involvement in any of society’s charitable activities; for example, God’s house does not build schools, open factories, or run businesses. If anyone opens factories, builds schools, runs a business, or participates in any commercial activities in the name of securing economic resources for the normal operation of church work, all of this goes against the administrative decrees of God’s house and should be checked. So, what is the financial source for the operation of the work of God’s house? Do you know? It comes from the donations of brothers and sisters, from offerings to sustain the normal operation of the work. What does this imply? The money donated by brothers and sisters, their donations to God, are offerings, and what is the use of an offering? It is to safeguard the normal operation of the church’s work. Of course, there are various expenses associated with this normal operation, and these expenses should be managed according to the principles and should not violate these principles. Consequently, when the work of the church involves financial issues, and some leaders and workers squander offerings and cause significant losses to those offerings, God’s house will impose severe punishment for them. Why will there be severe punishment? Why does no one who squanders offerings get away with it? (Because God’s offerings are given by brothers and sisters to God, and only God may enjoy them. In another respect, these offerings are meant to maintain the proper operation of the work of God’s house. If leaders or workers squander the offerings, it will directly lead to the work of God’s house being impacted and suffering loss. This disrupts and interferes with the work of God’s house, so the house of God must impose severe punishment.) Tell Me, should God’s house impose severe punishment? (Yes.) Why should it do so? Why must it impose severe punishment? (Squandering offerings is behavior belonging to antichrists. A person’s attitude toward offerings is reflective of their attitude toward God. If this person can squander offerings, it indicates their heart completely lacks reverence for God.) What you have said is indeed one aspect. Today, let’s fellowship for a bit about this matter of why severe punishment is necessary for those who squander offerings.
Why should people who squander offerings be severely punished? First, let’s talk about where offerings come from. Offerings are given by brothers and sisters. According to biblical statutes, people should give a tenth of their earnings, though of course, many people donate more than just a tenth nowadays, and certain wealthy individuals give more than a tenth. Additionally, for certain impoverished brothers and sisters who give a tenth, where does their money come from? There is no lack of people who save it up by living frugally. Like in the countryside and in rural areas, some people give a tenth of their earnings from selling grain, some from selling chicken eggs, and some from selling goats and chickens. Many people live frugally in order to give a tenth or more—that is where this money comes from. The majority of people know this money is hard to come by. So, why do brothers and sisters donate? Is it required by God’s house? Is it that without donating, salvation is impossible? Is it to comply with the statutes of the Bible? Or is it to support God’s house in its work, thinking that the work of God’s house is significant and can’t be done without funding, and so they should give more? Is this their only reason? (No.) Then, why do brothers and sisters donate? Can it be that they’re naive? Or do they have money to spare? Are they donating extra money, or money they haven’t been able to spend? To whom are these donations being given? (To God.) Why do people donate? Forget the rest, the most basic reason for many people to donate is that they acknowledge God’s work. God speaks and works to freely provide life and truth to people, and to lead them. Thus, people should offer a tenth of what they earn. This is the offering. Throughout history, God has blessed people with food, water, and life’s necessities, and He prepared everything for them. When people are able to enjoy all this, they should offer a tenth of what God gave them back on the altar, representing a portion that humans return to God, and allowing God to enjoy their harvest. This is the token of affection that people, as created beings, should possess and offer up. Apart from this aspect, there is another. Some people say, “God’s work is so great, I can’t do much by myself, so I will give an offering, my portion.” In this way they show their support for the work of God’s house, and act as backers. Regardless of the source or amount of these donations, there is no dearth of people among them whose money is saved up through frugal living. In short, if it weren’t for God and for His work, if there were only the church and these human organizations and associations, then people’s donations would have no value or significance, because without God’s work and His words they wouldn’t have any use. But with God speaking and working, with the advancement of God’s work to save humankind, these donations and offerings become particularly important. The reason they are particularly important is that this donation money is used for the church’s work, and it should not be embezzled, seized, misappropriated, or even squandered by those with wrongful intentions. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Since it is very important, every single penny should be used in key areas; nothing should be squandered or spent irresponsibly. Consequently, for those who squander, misappropriate, seize, or embezzle donations and offerings, we must handle them specially and punish them severely. Because these donations and offerings are crucial for God’s work, and considering the purpose behind brothers and sisters giving this money and these offerings, these donations should be allocated to the most critical areas. Every penny should be used with the principles and achieve results; it should not be squandered, and it should certainly not be seized by wicked individuals. This is one aspect. In addition to this, regardless of whether the donation is large or small, it comes from the donation of brothers and sisters. The source of this money isn’t derived from the church engaging in commercial activities, opening businesses, or running factories to earn a profit from society. It doesn’t come from the dividends earned by producing something, it doesn’t come from the dividends or income of the church, but from people’s donations. In simple terms, a donation is something given to God by brothers and sisters; the money given to God ought to belong to God. What is God’s money used for? Some say, “God’s money and offerings are used for God’s enjoyment.” Is it all for God’s enjoyment? How much of it can God enjoy? It’s quite limited, isn’t it? During the time when God becomes flesh, His food, clothing, shelter, and needs, as well as His three meals a day, are average, and what He enjoys is limited. Of course, that’s quite normal. The principal use of the donations and offerings from brothers and sisters is to maintain the normal operation of the work of the church, not to satisfy certain people’s desire to spend. Offerings are not for people to spend, nor are they for people to use. It’s not that whoever manages the finances is given priority to use this money, or that whoever is a leader has the special authority to allocate funds. Regardless of which individual puts donations to use, they should be used according to the principles set by God’s house. That is the principle. So, what is the nature of someone violating this principle? Haven’t they transgressed against the administrative decrees? (Yes.) Why is it said that they’ve transgressed against the administrative decrees? The offerings people give to God are meant for God’s enjoyment. So how does God use them? God uses them for the work of the church, to maintain the normal operation of its work. This is the principle by which God makes use of offerings. However, antichrists and wicked people do not use offerings in this manner. They squander, waste, or recklessly donate them, openly violating this principle in order to use the offerings. Isn’t this transgressing against the administrative decrees? Did God let you use them this way? Did He give you the right to use them this way? Did He tell you to use them this way? He didn’t, did He? Then why are you using them this way, so recklessly and wastefully? This is transgressing against the principle! This principle isn’t an ordinary one; it is related to administrative decrees. Because these offerings are not earned through engaging in business or commercial activities, but are donations offered by brothers and sisters to God, consequently every expenditure needs to be closely controlled and rigorously managed. There should be no squandering or wastefulness. Wasting or squandering any amount of money not only leads to significant losses in the work of God’s house, but also constitutes a significant financial loss for the house of God. Squandering offerings isn’t just squandering the offerings; it also shows a lack of responsibility toward the love expressed when brothers and sisters donate. Therefore, those who squander offerings must be severely punished. Admonish those with lighter offenses, and demand restitution at the same time. For those with more serious offenses, in addition to restitution, it is necessary to clear them out or expel them. There is another primary reason why severe punishment should be imposed on those who squander offerings. The church is distinct from any social organization. It is isolated in the midst of any country and any social environment, abandoned by the world and by humanity. Not only is the church unable to receive support or protection from any country, at the same time it cannot obtain any assistance or welfare from the state. At most, in Western countries, after registering and establishing a church, donations made to the church are exempt from personal taxation, or donated materials can be used to receive some tax deductions. Apart from this, the church cannot receive any welfare or assistance from any country or under any social system. If the church’s congregation becomes small and it can no longer stay in operation, the state won’t come to its aid. Instead, it would rather let it wither away on its own, because the church doesn’t generate any income and cannot pay any taxes to the state. Hence, whether the church exists or not is inconsequential to the state. The church finds itself in such a survival state under any social system. Tell Me, is this easy? (It isn’t easy.) Indeed, it really isn’t easy. The church is rejected by society and humanity, not receiving any recognition or sympathy, let alone support, from any social system. The church exists under these survival conditions. If someone is still able to squander offerings, still able to be heartless, pouring money down the drain, not taking any responsibility, blowing through 100,000 yuan in a moment, spending 1,000,000 yuan as if it were just a number, without blinking an eye, without feeling any reproach, do you think such a person possesses humanity? Are such individuals not deserving of curses? (Yes.) Summing up the various circumstances listed above, for those who squander offerings, who waste them, or who even harbor ill intentions toward the offerings, wishing to embezzle them or, not daring to embezzle them, squander them instead: All should be severely punished, there should be no leniency shown to them. Tell Me, is this a right approach? (Yes.) Then, if in the future you are given the opportunity to have authority to use offerings, how will you behave? If you cannot control yourselves, if you squander the offerings, then when it comes time for the church to punish you severely, will you have any complaints or grievances? (No.) It’s good that you won’t have any grievances. It will be what you deserve!
As for those people who squander offerings, don’t you hate them? Don’t they make you angry? Are you able to supervise or stop them? This takes things up a notch—it’s time for you to be tested. If there’s someone around you who squanders offerings, and insists on spending 20,000 yuan on a machine that could be bought for 2,000 yuan—who wants to buy the best, the top grade, the most modern, and the most fashionable machine, who wants to spend money on the most expensive machine, just because the money belongs to God’s house and does not come out of their own pockets—are you capable of stopping them? If you can’t stop them, can you warn them? Can you report them to the higher-ups? If you’re in charge of managing offerings, can you refuse to sign off in this situation? If you can’t do any of this, then you should also be severely punished. You’re also squandering offerings; you’re in league with that evil person, you’re their accomplice, and you both should be severely punished. What kind of attitude does someone have toward God if they can squander and be irresponsible with offerings? Is God in their heart? (No.) In My opinion, people like this have the same attitude toward God that Satan does. Some people say, “Anything related to God, to God’s name, His offerings, or His testimony—none of that concerns me. What does those people squandering offerings have to do with me?” What kind of thing are they? There are certain leaders and supervisors who sign off on everything, no matter what the church applies to purchase. They never question the applications, or examine them closely, or check them for problems; every application to purchase goods, whether the goods are expensive or cheap, practical or impractical, necessary or unnecessary—every single one gets approved with their signature. What is your approval? Is it just a signature? In My view, it’s your attitude toward God. Your attitude toward God’s offerings is your attitude toward God. Every stroke of your pen, every time you write your name, it’s evidence of your sin of blaspheming and disrespecting God. Why shouldn’t those who blaspheme and disrespect God in this way be severely punished? They must be severely punished! God supplies you with the truth, with life, with everything you have, and you approach Him and the things that belong to Him with this kind of attitude—what kind of thing are you? Each signature on an invoice is evidence of your sin of blaspheming God, and of your disrespectful attitude toward God; this is the most conclusive evidence. No matter what materials are being purchased, no matter the amount, you don’t even check the approval form, you just sign away with a swipe of your pen. You’re ready to sign off arbitrarily on 100,000 or 200,000 yuan purchases. Someday you will have to pay the price for your signature—whoever signs bears the responsibility! Since you behave in this way, since you can sign at random without even reviewing the applications first, and arbitrarily squander offerings, you should bear responsibility and pay the price for your own actions. If you’re not afraid to face the consequences, then go ahead, sign your name. Your signature represents your attitude toward God. If you can act like this even toward God, treating Him like this in an open and brazen manner, then how do you expect God to treat you? God has already been patient enough with you, He has given you breath, and allowed you to live up until now. Instead of continuing to treat God in the same way and with the same attitude, what you should do is confess and repent to God, and reverse your attitude. Don’t keep blindly contending with God. If you continue treating God in the same way and with the same attitude, then you know what the consequences will be. If you are unable to obtain God’s forgiveness, your belief will have been in vain. What use will your belief be then? You believe in God but squander His trust in you and His commission to you. Tell Me, what kind of thing are you? Some people act as leaders or supervisors in God’s house. They’ve performed their duties for many years, and it can be said that I’ve interacted with them for many years. Ultimately, I’ve come to a conclusion about them: These people are worse than dogs. Their actions are not only heartbreaking, even more so, they are repulsive. I like raising dogs and interacting with them. The dogs I’ve raised over the years have all turned out quite well. The dogs I like generally don’t deliberately antagonize people. If you show a dog a bit of kindness, it will return it ten-fold. As long as you are truly good to it, even if you place a newspaper or a pair of shoes in the yard, it will lie down beside them and guard them for you. Sometimes, if you throw something you don’t want away, the dog will think you lost it, and guard it for you without wandering away. After a while, I summed up what I learned and said, “People are worse than dogs!” Dogs guard houses—they use their abilities and skills to guard your house with their lives. People don’t even have hearts, let alone do they guard things with their lives. They won’t even say a word to safeguard the work of the church. They are less than a guard dog! This is the distinction I’ve drawn between people and dogs. These people who squander offerings are lower than guard dogs. Do you agree that they should be severely punished? (Yes.) God puts His trust in people, and entrusts them with work and duties. This is God exalting them and thinking well of them. It’s not that they deserve to do that work, or that they have good caliber and humanity, or are up to the job. And yet, people fail to recognize the favor shown to them, they always think they are capable of doing the church’s work, that they’ve earned this through their own hard work and expenditures. Everything they have is given to them by God. What have they earned? Are they resting on their laurels? God exalts people to do their duties, but they fail to recognize the favor shown to them, or to understand what is good for them. They don’t live up to His trust and His exaltation. They squander God’s trust and His exaltation. In such cases, I am sorry, but they must be severely punished. God gives people opportunities, but people don’t know what is good for them, they don’t know to cherish the opportunities God gives them. He gives them a chance, but they do not want it. They think that God is easy to push around, that He’s forgiving, that He won’t see or know what’s going on. Consequently, they dare to unscrupulously squander offerings, betraying God’s trust, lacking even the most basic human character and conscience. What are they still believing for? They shouldn’t bother believing, they ought to just go worship Satan. God doesn’t need their worship. They are not worthy!
Have we not more or less fellowshiped enough on the first topic of letting go of careers—not engaging in charity? Have you understood the truth principles contained within this topic? What are the principles here? (The principles are that doing charity is not the mission given to humans by God. It has no relation at all to practicing the truth or pursuing salvation. When a person does a few good deeds, they are merely a reflection of their individual behavior.) Engaging in charity is unrelated to the pursuit of the truth. Don’t mistakenly believe that by doing charity work, you are practicing the truth, or someone who has attained salvation. This is a huge misconception. Practicing the truth does not include doing charity, nor does it include engaging in charity work. The goal of believing in God is to attain salvation. Believing in God is not about accumulating merits or doing good deeds, it is not about enjoying doing good things or philanthropy, nor is it about engaging in charity. Believing in God has no connection to engaging in charity; it is about pursuing the truth and accepting God’s salvation. So, people’s ideas that faith in God is about doing charity or engaging in charity work, or that doing charity is equivalent to believing in God and satisfying Him, are all horribly misguided. Whatever charity you get involved in, and whatever things you do that relate to charity, these merely represent you personally. Whether they are occasional actions or something you engage in as a career, these things merely reflect your own good behavior. This behavior may have a connection to a religion, social behavior, or moral criteria, but it absolutely has no relation to believing in God and pursuing the truth, or to following God’s way, and it has absolutely nothing to do with His requirements. But then again, why should one not do charity? God is a God who takes compassion on people, who has compassion and love. He pities humanity, so why doesn’t God commemorate people’s charitable deeds? Why doesn’t doing charity earn God’s commemoration? Isn’t this a problem? Is demanding that people not do charity a sign that God doesn’t love humanity? Doesn’t this contradict the pity that God has for humanity? (No.) Why not? (Because there are principles to God’s compassion and love, and His compassion and love are directed toward specific individuals. He grants them to those who accept the truth, practice the truth, and genuinely repent. As for those nonbelievers who cannot accept the truth, they are not the ones that God intends to save.) There are principles to God’s compassion and love, and His compassion and love are directed toward specific individuals. Go on, what else is there? Is there a connection between engaging in charity work and believing in God? (No.) So, does engaging in charity conflict with believing in God? When participating in any form of charity work, do people not need to invest time, energy, and even money? When you engage in charity work, you can’t simply pay lip service to it without contemplating or considering the work. If you genuinely treat it as a profession, you’ll certainly need to invest time, energy, and even considerable sums of money. Once you’ve invested time, energy, and money, won’t you then be bound and controlled by the charity work you’re doing? Will you still have energy to pursue the truth? Will you still have energy to fulfill your duty? (No.) When you pursue any career in life, no matter what career you engage in, if you do it full time, you will inevitably invest and sacrifice your lifetime’s energy and your whole life. It will cost you your home, your feelings, your fleshly pleasures, and your time. Similarly, if you truly treat charity as a profession and carry it out accordingly, all the time and energy you have will get wrapped up in it. An individual has a finite amount of energy. If you’re controlled by charity work, and you want to give consideration to both charity work and your belief in God in an equal and balanced manner, and furthermore, wish to do both things well, this will not be an easy task. If you want to balance these two things at the same time, but you aren’t able to, you will have to make a choice. If you are to choose which to keep and which to discard, how will you decide? Shouldn’t you select the most meaningful and valuable endeavor to carry out? Then if both believing in God and engaging in charity appear in your life at the same time, what choice should you make? (I should choose to believe in God.) Don’t most people choose to believe in God? Seeing that you all made that choice, isn’t it quite normal that God doesn’t let people engage in charity? (Yes.) Engaging in charity has helped many living things and provided sustenance to many people, but what will you ultimately gain from it? You will satisfy your vanity. Is this truly gaining something, and is it what you should be gaining? Your ideal will have been realized, your value will have been demonstrated, that’s it—but is this the path you should walk in life? (No.) What will you eventually gain from it? (Emptiness.) You will gain nothing at all. Your vanity will be temporarily satisfied, you will receive a bit of praise from others, or medals and honors in society, but that’s it, and all your energy and time will have been used up. What will you have gained? Honor, a good reputation, and accolades—these are all empty things. However, the truths that people ought to comprehend and the life paths they should take in this life cannot be understood or gained merely by engaging in charity. Believing in God is different. If you sincerely expend yourself for God and pursue the truth, then your investments of time and energy will yield good and positive results. If you know and understand the things that people should comprehend the most—how people should live, how they should worship God, how they view different matters, what viewpoints and stances they should have when they act, what the most correct way to comport oneself is, and how to comport oneself in a way that will be commemorated by the Creator, in a way that means one is walking the proper path—then this is the proper path and it is truly gaining something. Within your life, you will have gained much that unbelievers cannot learn, things that someone with humanity should possess. These things come from God, from the truth, and they will have become your life. From this, you will transform into a person who takes the truth as their life; your life will no longer be empty, and you will no longer be perplexed or waver. Are these not higher and more valuable gains? Are they not more valuable than doing some charitable work to satisfy your vanity for a moment? (Yes.) These gains that involve the truth, and the path that people should walk, will grant you a new life. There is nothing in the human world that can compare to this new life, and nothing can replace it. Of course, this new life is priceless and eternal. It is something that you attain after you have dedicated your time, energy, and youth, after you’ve paid a certain price and made certain sacrifices. Isn’t it worth it? It is most certainly worth it. But what will you gain if you engage in charity? You won’t gain anything. Those honors and medals are not gains. Others’ approval and affirmation, other people saying that you are a good person or a great philanthropist—can these be considered gains? (No.) All these are temporary things, and they will soon fade away with time. When you can no longer grasp these things, when you can no longer feel them, you will be filled with regret, and say, “What have I done in my life? I’ve cared for a few cats and dogs, adopted some orphans, helped some poor people to live good lives, to eat good food and to have nice clothes to wear, but what about me? What have I lived for? Is it possible that I lived only for them? Is that my mission? Is this the responsibility that Heaven entrusted to me? Is this the obligation that Heaven gave me? Surely not. Then, what does a person live for in this life? Where do people come from, and where do they go in the future? I don’t understand these most fundamental issues.” And so, when you reach this stage, you will feel that those honors are not gains, and that they are just external things. This is because you would have been the same person if you hadn’t been involved in charity, as after doing charity up until that day, obtaining all those accolades and honors—in either case, your inner life won’t have changed. The things you don’t understand will still be unknown to you, you’ll still be puzzled and perplexed. And at that time, not only will you be more perplexed, and more confused, but you will also feel more uneasy. At this point, it will be too late for regrets. Your life will have passed, your best times will be gone, and you will have chosen the wrong path. Therefore, before you make the decision to engage in charity work, or when you have just started doing charity work, if you wish to pursue the truth and attain salvation, you should let go of such ideas. Of course, you should also let go of all activities related to this work and throw yourself wholeheartedly onto the path of believing in God and pursuing salvation. In the end, even if what you obtain and gain is not as much or tangible as you initially imagined, at the very least, you won’t be filled with regret. No matter how little you gain, it will still be more than what those who’ve spent their whole lives in religion believing in the Lord will receive. That is a fact. Therefore, while choosing a career, in one respect, people need to let go of their ideas and plans to engage in charity. In another, they should also rectify their notions with regard to their thoughts. There’s no need for them to envy those in society who are engaged in charity work, or to think how altruistic, great, noble, and selfless they are, saying, “Look at how noble and selfless they act while assisting other people. Why can’t we be selfless? Why can’t we achieve that?” Firstly, you don’t need to envy them. Secondly, you don’t need to reprove yourself. If God hasn’t chosen them, they have their own missions and pursuits. Regardless of what they’re pursuing, whether it’s fame and profit, or realizing their own ideals and desires, you don’t need to concern yourself with that. What you should be concerned with is what you ought to pursue and what sort of path you should take. The most practical issue is that, since God has chosen you, and you’ve come into God’s house, and you are a member of the church, and furthermore, as you are in the ranks of those performing their duties, you should ponder over how to embark upon the path of salvation while fulfilling your duty, how to practice the truth, how to enter into the truth reality, and reach the point where God’s words are wrought within you and become your life through your pursuits and the various prices you pay. In the not-too-distant future, when you look back at the state you were in when you first came to believe in God, you’ll find that your inner life has changed. You will no longer be a person whose life is based on their corrupt dispositions. You will no longer be an arrogant, ignorant, aggressive, and foolish person who thinks themself second to none, as you once were. Instead, the word of God will have become your new life. You will know how to follow God’s way, and you will know how to handle everything you encounter in life according to God’s will, and in accordance with the truth principles. You will spend every day in such a grounded manner, and you will have a precise goal and direction in everything you do. You will know what you should and shouldn’t do. All these things will be as clear in your mind as a mirror. Your daily life won’t be bewildering, exhausting, or depressing. Instead, it will be filled with light, it will have goals and a direction. At the same time, you will feel a drive in your heart. You will feel that you’ve changed, that you’ve gained a new life, and that you’ve become a person who has made God’s words their life. Isn’t this good? (Yes.) We will conclude our fellowship here on not engaging in charity, which is the first principle within the topic of letting go of careers.
What is the second principle of the topic of letting go of one’s career? Being content with food and clothing. In order to survive in society, people engage in various kinds of labor or jobs to sustain their livelihoods, ensuring they have a source and security for their daily meals and living expenses. Consequently, whether they belong to the lower classes or to a slightly higher tier, people maintain their livelihoods through various occupations. Since their purpose is to maintain a livelihood, it’s pretty straightforward: having a place to live, eating three meals a day, affording meat on occasion if they wish to eat meat, going to work regularly, having an income, not going around in rags or unable to get sufficient nourishment—that’s good enough. They are people’s basic necessities in life. When one achieves these basic necessities, isn’t it relatively easy to achieve food and warmth? Isn’t it within the scope of their ability? (Yes.) So, if the nature of one’s career is solely for the sake of food and warmth, for the sake of their livelihood, regardless of what career they are involved in, as long as it’s legal, it will generally align with the standards of humanity. Why do I say that it aligns with the standards of humanity? Because the motive, intention, and purpose you have behind engaging in this profession have nothing to do with any matter or idea other than maintaining livelihoods—it is purely for the sake of having enough to eat, having enough warm clothes to wear, and being able to support your family. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) These are the basic necessities. Once these basic necessities are provided for, people may enjoy a basic quality of life. When they can achieve this, they can sustain a normal existence. Is it not enough for a person to be able to sustain a normal existence? Is this not what people should achieve within the range of humanity? (Yes.) You are responsible for your own life, you bear it on your shoulders—this is a necessary manifestation of normal humanity. It is sufficient and appropriate for you to achieve this. However, if you are not content, then whereas a normal person might eat meat once or twice a week, you insist on having it every day, and more left over. For instance, if you consume a quarter pound or half a pound of meat daily when you only need three ounces to maintain proper physical health, this excess nutrition might lead to illness. What causes such diseases as fatty liver, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol? (Eating too much meat.) What is the problem with eating too much meat? Isn’t it due to a lack of control over one’s diet? Isn’t it due to gluttony? (Yes.) Where does this gluttony come from? Isn’t it because one’s appetite is excessive? Are excessive appetite and gluttony in line with the necessities of normal humanity? (No.) They exceed the necessities of normal humanity. If you constantly wish to exceed the necessities of normal humanity, it means you’ll have to work more, earn more money, and work many times more than normal people. Whether through overtime or taking multiple jobs, you’ll need to generate more income to afford eating meat three times a day and whenever you desire. Doesn’t this go beyond the scope of normal humanity? Is it good to go beyond the scope of normal humanity? (No.) Why is it not good? (In one respect, people’s bodies are prone to illness; in another, in order to satisfy their desires and appetites, people have to invest more time, energy, and cost into their work. This takes up the time and energy they could use to pursue the truth and fulfill their duties, affecting how they walk the path of believing in God and pursuing the truth.) People should be content with having basic necessities, not feeling hungry or cold, and achieving the food and warmth needed for normal humanity. You should earn enough money to keep in accordance with the normal bodily requirements for nutrition. That is enough, that is the kind of life that people with normal humanity should have. If you’re always craving pleasures of the flesh, satisfying your fleshly appetite without considering your physical health, and disregarding the right path; if you always want to eat good food, enjoy good things, have a good living environment and a good quality of life, eat rare delicacies, wear brand-name clothes and gold and silver jewelry, live in mansions, and drive luxury cars—if you constantly wish to pursue this, then what kind of occupation do you need to have? If you only take an ordinary job to meet your basic needs and address food and warmth, can it fulfill all these desires? (It cannot.) Certainly not. For instance, if you want to do business, and a small business with just one stall can provide enough for the food and warmth of your whole family, you may have less than those above you, but you have much more than those below. You can eat meat on occasion, and your whole family can dress decently. You can use the remaining time to believe in God, attend gatherings, and fulfill your duties, and you can still have the energy to pursue the truth. This is good enough. Because, based on your life having assurance, while engaging in this occupation you will be able to free up time and energy to pursue faith in God and the truth. This is in alignment with God’s will. However, if you are never content, you will always think, “This business has potential. I can earn this much money per month with just one stall. It can provide for my family’s food and warmth. If I have two stalls, then I can double my earnings. Not only can my family have food and warmth, we can also save a bit of money. We can eat whatever we want and even travel and buy a few luxury goods. We can eat and enjoy things that most people can’t. That would be so great. Let me add another stall!” After adding another stall, you grow wealthier; you get a taste of the perks and think, “It seems that this market is quite large. I can add yet another stall, expand my business, and bring in different goods to expand it further. Not only can I save money, I can buy a car and upgrade to a bigger house. My whole family can travel both domestically and internationally!” The more you think about it, the more appealing it becomes. At this point, you’re set on adding another stall. The business grows bigger and bigger, you earn more and more money, your enjoyment increases, but you go to fewer and fewer gatherings, from weekly gatherings to bi-monthly or monthly, and eventually, only once every six months. You think in your heart, “My business has grown, I’ve earned a lot of money, I support the work of God’s house and give a large offering.” You’re driving a convertible, your wife and children are adorned in gold and diamond jewelry, dressed head-to-toe in brand-name clothing, and you’ve even traveled abroad. You think, “Having money is great! If I knew making money would be this easy, why didn’t I start earlier? Having money is so great! A wealthy person’s days are spent in such comfort and ease! When I eat delicious food, the taste is unparalleled. When I put on designer brands, I feel elated, and wherever I go, I receive envious and jealous looks from others. I’ve gained people’s respect and admiration, and I feel different, my back feels like it’s straightened up a bit.” The desires of your flesh have been satisfied, as well as your vanity. But the dust on the cover of God’s words keeps getting thicker and thicker, you haven’t read them in a long time, and your prayers to God have become shorter. The gatherings have moved to a different place, and you’re not even sure where they’re held now. You don’t even occasionally report to church anymore. Tell Me, is this getting closer to salvation or farther away? (Farther away.) Your quality of life is improving, your body is well-fed, and you’ve become more particular. In the past, you wouldn’t even go for a medical check-up once every eight years or a decade, but now that you’re wealthy, you go for a check-up every six months to see if you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol. You say, “One must take care of their body. As the saying goes, ‘If you must be something, don’t be sick. If you must not be something, don’t be poor.’” Your thoughts and viewpoints have changed, haven’t they? Now that you’re rich and no longer an ordinary person, you feel that you’re valuable, that your identity is honorable, and you treasure your body even more. Your attitude toward life has changed as well. Before, you didn’t bother with medical check-ups, thinking, “We poor folks don’t need to worry about that. Why should I get a check-up? If I’m seriously ill, I can’t afford the treatment anyway. I’ll just sit and bear it, and if I can’t, I guess this flesh will just go ahead and die. No big deal.” But now it’s different. You say, “People shouldn’t live with an illness. If they’re sick, who will spend the money they’ve earned? They won’t be able to enjoy life. Life is short!” It’s different, isn’t it? Your attitudes toward money, toward the life of the flesh, and toward enjoyment have all changed. Similarly, your attitudes toward believing in God, pursuing the truth, and receiving salvation have also grown increasingly indifferent.
Once a person embarks on the path of not being content with food and clothing, they will pursue a higher quality of life and the enjoyment of better things. This is a sign of danger, it’s falling into temptation, it will cause trouble, and it is a bad omen. Once someone enjoys and experiences the taste of wealth, they start worrying that one day they will lose their money and become poor. As a result, they particularly cherish the days of having money now and value the position and status of being rich. You often hear unbelievers say, “Going from bitter to sweet is easy, going from sweet to bitter is not.” This means that when you have nothing, you don’t mind being asked to let go; you can let go at the drop of a hat, because there’s nothing worth holding on. These monetary and material possessions do not become obstacles for you, and it’s easy for you to let go of them. But once you possess these things, it becomes difficult for you to let them go, more difficult than ascending to heaven. If you’re poor, then when it’s time to leave your house and fulfill your duties you can readily walk away. However, if you’re a wealthy bigwig, your mind becomes filled with thoughts and you say, “Oh, my house is worth two million yuan, my car is worth five hundred thousand yuan. Then there are fixed assets, bank savings, stocks, funds, investments, and other things, adding up more or less to a total of ten million yuan. If I leave, how am I going to take all of this with me?” It’s not easy for you to let go of these material possessions. You think, “If I give up these things and leave this house and my current family, will the place I inhabit in the future have similar conditions? Would I be able to tolerate living in a mud hut or a house of straw? Could I bear the stench of a cattle shed? Right now, I can take a hot shower every day. Could I endure a place where I can’t even take one hot shower per year?” Your thoughts multiply, and you can’t take it. While you have money, you pull out fistfuls of cash to buy things, buying whatever you want without hesitation, you’re particularly generous, and you’re never tripped up by money. But if you were to give up all this, you’d feel embarrassed every time you reached into your wallet, wondering what would happen if there’s nothing there. If you wanted to eat a bowl of hot noodles, you’d have to calculate which restaurant is the cheapest and how many meals you can still eat with the money you have left. You’d have to keep to a strict budget, living the life of a poor person. Could you tolerate that? Previously, if you washed a piece of clothing twice and it lost its shape, and wearing it out would make you feel embarrassed, you’d throw it away and get a new one. Now, you wash and wear the same T-shirt over and over again, and even if the collar tears you can’t bear to throw it away. You stitch it back together and keep wearing it. Could you tolerate that? Wherever you go, people would see that you’re poor, and they wouldn’t want to interact with you. When you’re out shopping and ask for the price, no one would pay attention to you. Could you bear that? It’s not an easy feeling, is it? But if you didn’t have these monetary and material possessions, you wouldn’t need to let go of them, and you wouldn’t need to face this challenge. It would be much easier for you to abandon everything and pursue the truth. Therefore, God has long told people they should be content with food and clothing. No matter what profession you engage in, do not treat it as a career, and don’t see it as a springboard or a means to rise to prominence or accumulate wealth and live comfortably. Regardless of the work or profession you engage in, it’s enough to see it solely as a means to sustain your livelihood. If it can sustain your livelihood, you should know when to stop and not pursue riches anymore. If earning two thousand yuan per month is enough to cover your three meals a day and the basic necessities of life, then you should stop there and not try to expand the scope of your job. If you have any special necessities, you can take on additional shifts part-time or a temporary job to make ends meet—that’s acceptable. God’s requirement for people is this: No matter what profession you engage in, regardless of whether it involves knowledge or any technical skills, or if it calls for any physical labor, as long as it is reasonable and lawful, it is within your capabilities, and this profession can sustain your livelihood, then that is enough. Do not turn the profession you engage in into a stepping stone for realizing your own ideals and desires for the sake of satisfying your life in the flesh, thereby letting yourself fall into a temptation or quagmire, or leading yourself down a path of no return. If earning two thousand yuan per month is enough to sustain your personal life or the life of your family, then you should keep that job and use the remaining time to practice faith in God, attend gatherings, fulfill your duties, and pursue the truth. This is your mission, the value and meaning of a believer’s life. And any profession you engage in is merely for sustaining the basic physical necessities of a normal human life. God will not demand that you rise to prominence, become outstanding, or make a name for yourself in your profession. If your profession is related to scientific research, it will require a significant portion of your energy, but the principle of practice remains unchanged—be content with food and clothing. If your profession offers you opportunities for promotion and a substantial income based on your capabilities, and this income exceeds the range of being content with food and clothing, what should you choose to do? (Refuse the offer.) The principle you should obey is that which God has admonished—be content with food and clothing. No matter what profession you engage in, if it goes beyond the scope of being content with food and clothing, you will inevitably invest energy, time, or costs outside the range of basic necessities to earn that additional income. For instance, you might currently be a junior employee earning enough to sustain your basic needs, but due to your good performance on the job, your superiors want to promote you to a managerial position or to such-and-such senior executive with a salary several times higher. Is this income earned in vain? When your income increases, the corresponding amount of labor you invest also increases. Does investing effort not require energy and time? This is equivalent to saying that the money you earn is obtained by trading a large chunk of your energy and time. To earn more money, you need to invest more of your time and energy. As you earn more money, a large chunk of your time and energy is then occupied, and at the same time, the time you allocate to your faith in God, attending gatherings, fulfilling duties, and pursuing the truth decreases proportionately. This is a plain fact. When your energy and time are dedicated to accumulating wealth, you lose out on the rewards of your faith in God. God will not treat you favorably, nor will His house fill you in on what you missed just because you’ve been promoted and a large amount of your time and energy are now occupied, causing you to have no time to fulfill your duties or attend the gatherings in God’s house. Is this the kind of thing that happens? (No.) God’s house won’t catch you up or let you have special treatment, and God will not treat you favorably because of this. In short, if you wish to have rewards for your belief in God, if you want to attain the truth, it depends on your own efforts to secure time and energy. This is a matter of choice. God doesn’t forbid you from sustaining a normal life. Your income is sufficient to cover food and warmth, sustaining your bodily survival and life activities. It’s enough to support your continued existence. But you are not content; you always want to earn more. Then your energy and time will be taken away by this sum of money. What are they being taken away for? To enhance the quality of your physical life. As you improve the quality of your physical life, you gain less from believing in God, and your time for fulfilling duties is gone, it is occupied. What occupies it? It is occupied by the pursuit of a good physical life, by physical enjoyment. Is it worth it? (No.) If you’re good at weighing the pros and cons, you know it’s not worthwhile. You gain enjoyment in your physical life, you eat better food and keep your belly satisfied; you dress well, stylishly and comfortably. You acquire a few more designer items and luxury goods, but your job is tiring, more demanding, and it takes up your time and energy. As a believer, you have no time to attend gatherings or listen to sermons. You also lack time to ponder the truth and God’s words. There’s a lot of truth you still don’t understand and cannot recognize, but you lack time and energy to ponder and seek after them. Your physical life improves, but your spiritual life fails to grow, and faces decline. Is this a gain or a loss? (A loss.) This loss is too great! You have to weigh the pros and cons! If you’re a clever person who genuinely loves the truth, you should weigh both sides and see what is the most valuable and meaningful thing for you to gain. If promotion comes, and you have the opportunity to earn more money and provide a better physical life for yourself, what should you choose? If you’re willing to pursue the truth and have the determination to pursue the truth, then you should forgo such opportunities. For example, suppose someone at your company says, “You’ve been doing this job for ten years. Most people in the company see their salaries rise and receive promotions in three to five years. But your compensation is the same as before. Why won’t you give a better account for yourself? Why aren’t you improving your performance? Look at so-and-so, she has been here for three years, and now she drives a convertible and lives in a bigger house: She switched out her 1-1 for a 3-2. When she came, she was just a poor student. Now, she’s a wealthy woman, dressed head to toe in designer clothes, staying in luxury hotels, living in a mansion, and driving a luxury vehicle.” When you see how well off she is, wouldn’t you begin to feel the itch? Wouldn’t you feel bad? Could you withstand such temptations? Would you still stick to your original intention? Would you stick to the principles? If you genuinely love the truth, are willing to pursue the truth, and believe that gaining something in the truth is the most important thing, the most valuable thing in your life, and that you’ve chosen that which is the most important and valuable thing in your life, then you won’t regret it, and you won’t be swayed by things like promotions. You will be persistent, saying, “I am content with food and clothing; whatever occupation I take, it is for the sake of food and warmth, to allow my body to continue living, not for bodily enjoyment, and certainly not for achieving prominence. I don’t pursue promotions or high salaries; I will utilize my limited lifetime to pursue the truth.” If you possess this determination you won’t waver, and your heart won’t itch; when you see others getting promoted, receiving raises, or wearing gold and silver jewelry and brand-name clothes, enjoying a better quality of life than you, and surpassing you in style, you won’t feel envious. Isn’t that so? (Yes.) However, if you don’t love the truth and don’t pursue the truth, you won’t be able to restrain yourself, and you won’t persist for very long. On such an occasion and in such an environment, if people lack the truth as their lives, if they lack a bit of determination, if they lack true insight, they will frequently vacillate back and forth and feel weak. After persisting for a while, they will even grow depressed, thinking, “When will these days come to an end? If God’s day doesn’t come, how long will I remain a footman in the company? Others are earning more than me. Why am I only able to maintain basic food and warmth? God doesn’t tell me to earn more money.” Who’s stopping you from earning more money? If you have the capability, you can earn more. If you choose to earn more money, to lead a wealthy lifestyle, and to enjoy living extravagantly, that’s fine; no one is stopping you. However, you need to be responsible for your own choices. In the end, if you don’t attain the truth, if God’s words haven’t become life within you, you will be the only one regretting it. You need to be responsible for your own actions and choices. No one can foot the bill or take responsibility for you. Since you chose to believe in God, walk the path of salvation, and pursue the truth, don’t regret it. Since this is what you’ve chosen, you shouldn’t see it as a rule or commandment to follow; rather, you should understand that your persistence and choices have meaning and value. Ultimately, what you gain is the truth and life, not just a rule. If your persistence and choices make you feel particularly embarrassed, uncomfortable, or unable to face people around you, then don’t continue to persist. Why make things difficult for yourself? Whatever you wish for in your heart, whatever you want, pursue that thing—no one is stopping you. Right now, us fellowshiping like this is just giving you a principle. In the world, every profession that people engage in is associated with fame, profit, and physical enjoyment. The reason why people earn more money is not to achieve a certain number, but to improve their physical enjoyment through earning that money, and also to become wealthy people known to the public. This way, they will have fame, profit, and position, all of which exceed the range of basic necessities. Any price people pay is for physical enjoyment, none of it has meaning; all of it is empty, like a dream. What they gain in the end is pure emptiness. Today you might have dumplings for your meal and find it delicious, but after careful reflection, you see that you’ve gained nothing. If you eat it every day, you might get tired of it, stop eating it, and switch to something else, like corn buns, rice, or pancakes. You adjust yourself like this, and your physical body grows healthier. If you eat rich foods every day, your physical body might grow unhealthy, won’t it?
Being content with food and clothing, is this the correct path? (It is correct.) Why is it correct? Is the value of a person’s life about food and clothing? (No.) If the value of a person’s life is not about food and clothing or enjoyment in the flesh, then the profession a person engages in should only fulfill the need for food and clothing; it shouldn’t go beyond this scope. What is the purpose behind having food and clothing? To ensure the body can survive normally. What is the purpose of survival? It’s not for the sake of fleshly enjoyment, nor for the sake of enjoying life’s course, and it certainly isn’t for the sake of enjoying all the things that humans experience in life. All of these are unimportant. So what is the most important? What is the most valuable thing a person should do? (One should walk the path of believing in God and pursuing the truth, and then fulfill their own duties.) No matter what kind of person you are, you are a created being. Created beings should do what they are meant to do—this is what has value. So, what is it created beings do that has value? Every created being has a mission entrusted to them by the Creator, a mission they are meant to fulfill. God has determined the destiny of each person’s life. Whatever their life’s destiny is, that is what they should do. If you do it well, then when you stand before God to give an account, God will provide a satisfying answer. He will say that your life was lived valuably and fruitfully, that you turned God’s words into your life, and that you are a competent created being. However, if your life is just about living, struggling, and investing for the sake of food, clothing, pleasure, and happiness, then when you finally stand before God, He will ask, “How much have you fulfilled of this life’s task and mission that I gave you?” You will tally it all up and find that the energy and time of this life were spent on food, clothing, and entertainment. It seems like you haven’t done much with your faith in God, you haven’t fulfilled your duty, you haven’t persisted to the end, and you haven’t carried out your devotion. With regard to pursuing the truth, though you had some willingness to pursue it, you haven’t paid much of a price, and you haven’t gained anything. In the final test, God’s words have not become your life, and you are still the same old Satan. Your methods for viewing things and acting are all based on human notions and imaginings, and Satan’s corrupt disposition. You are still completely opposed to God, and are incompatible with Him. In that case, you will be rendered useless, and God will not want you anymore. From this point on, you will no longer be God’s created being. That is a pitiful thing! Therefore, no matter what profession you engage in, as long as it’s legal, it is arranged and predestined by God. But that doesn’t mean God supports or encourages you to earn more money or to rise to prominence in the career you have taken. God doesn’t approve of this, and He never required it from you. God will moreover never use the profession you engage in to push you toward the world, to hand you over to Satan, or to allow you to willfully pursue fame and profit. Instead, through the profession you engage in, God allows you to address your needs for food and warmth—that is all. Additionally, within God’s words He has told you such things as what your duty is, what your mission is, what you should pursue, and what you should live out. These are the values you should live out and the path you should walk throughout your life. After God has spoken and you understand what He said, what you should do? If working three days a week is enough to meet your needs for food and warmth, but you still choose to work on the other days, then you cannot fulfill your duty. When a duty requires your cooperation, you say, “I’m at work, I’m at my post,” and when someone tries to contact you, you always claim to have no time. When do you have time? Only after 8 p.m., when you’re worn out, tired, and drained, you have the will but not the strength. You work six days of the week, and whenever someone tries to contact you by phone you always claim that you don’t have time. Only on Sundays do you have time, and even then you need to spend time with your family and your children, do household chores, and recharge yourself and relax a while. Some people even go out on vacation, spend some time on leisure activities, and go off spending money and shopping for things. Some people build on their relationships with colleagues, and network with leaders and higher-ups. What kind of belief is this? This is a nonbeliever through and through; what’s the point of engaging in the formality? Don’t say you believe in God; you have no relationship with believers in God. You don’t belong to the church; at most, you’re just a friend of the church. God’s house needs someone to handle external affairs, and you may agree to help out, but it’s just that you’re not refusing. Whether you can fill your post, or when you can fill it, is unknown. And after you’ve arrived at your post, whether you can give it all of your time, and your whole heart, and strength, is uncertain—these are all unknowns. Who knows when you might get too busy with work, or go on a business trip, and disappear without a trace for two weeks or a month—no one can reach you. This is no longer genuine faith, it is a mere formality. When it comes to people like this, their books of God’s words should be taken away, and then they should be cleared out and told, “If you can’t let go of work, have no time for gatherings, and can’t fulfill your duty, God’s house won’t force you. Let’s part ways here. When you can come to be content with just having food and clothing, give up your demands for a high-quality life, and allocate more time to fulfilling your duty, then we’ll formally accept you into the fold and count you as a member of the church. If you can’t achieve this, and you just report in, help out, and build tenuous relationships with brothers and sisters in your spare time, that doesn’t count as fulfilling your duty as a created being, and it certainly doesn’t qualify as formally believing in God.” What do we call people like this? (Friends of the church.) Church friends, good friends of the church. “For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mark 9:40). Therefore, these kinds of people are referred to as church friends. Calling someone a friend of the church indicates that they’re still in the observation phase, they aren’t yet formal believers in God, they aren’t counted among the church members, nor are they yet considered as people fulfilling a duty; at most, they still have to be observed, as it’s still unclear whether they can fulfill their duty. However, some people, due to restrictions placed on them by family environment or conditions, must work several days a week to address making a living and support their children. We won’t make any peremptory demands on them. If they can fulfill their duties in their remaining time, then they count as members of God’s house, as formally believing in God, because they have already met the basic condition of being content with food and clothing. They have objective difficulties, and if you prevent them from working, their entire family will have no means of support, and they’ll suffer from cold and hunger. If you don’t let them work, who will support their family? Are you going to support them? Therefore, church leaders, supervisors, and anyone related to them are not justified in demanding that they quit their jobs and not worry about their families. This ought not to be done. It would be asking the impossible of people; they should be given a means to live. People don’t live in a vacuum, they are not machines. They need to survive, to sustain a livelihood. As we discussed before, if you have children and a family, then as a mainstay or a member of the family, you should take on the responsibility of supporting your family. The principle for fulfilling this responsibility is to achieve food and warmth, that is the principle. For some people, this is the condition they are in, and they can’t do anything about it. After performing their responsibilities to their family, they adjust their schedule to fulfill their duty. This is allowed and permitted by God’s house; you can’t ask the impossible of people. Is this a principle? (Yes.) No one is justified in demanding that those who have just recently believed in God and have yet to establish roots must quit their jobs, abandon their families, get divorced, neglect their children, or reject their parents. None of these are necessary. What God’s words require people to follow are the truth principles, and these principles include various situations and conditions. Based on these different situations and conditions, requirements and measures should be made according to the truth principles; only this is accurate. Therefore, in matters of a career, it is crucial to be content with food and clothing. If you can’t see this point clearly, you might lose your duty and jeopardize your chances of being saved.
The last days are also a special time. In one respect, the affairs of the church are busy and complicated; in another, facing this moment when the gospel of the kingdom of God is expanding, more people are needed to dedicate their time and energy, to contribute their efforts and fulfill their duties in order to meet the needs of various projects within the house of God. Therefore, regardless of your occupation, if outside of meeting your basic living needs, you are able to devote your time and energy to fulfill your duty in God’s house, cooperating in various projects, then in the eyes of God, this is not only desirable but also particularly valuable. It is worthy of God’s commemoration, and of course it is worth it for people to invest and spend this much too. That is because although you sacrificed the enjoyments of the flesh, what you gain is the priceless life of God’s words, an everlasting life, a priceless treasure that cannot be exchanged for anything in the world, with money or any other thing. And this invaluable treasure, the thing you gain through investing time and energy, through your own efforts and pursuits: This is a special favor and something you have been lucky to receive, isn’t it? God’s words and the truth becoming one’s life: This is a priceless treasure in exchange for which people should offer everything. So, based on your occupation allowing you to have the food and clothing, if you are able to pay the price and invest time and energy into pursuing the truth—if you choose this path—then it is a good thing worth celebrating. You shouldn’t feel discouraged or confused about it; you should be certain that you made the right choice. You might have missed out on opportunities for promotions, for salary increases and a higher income, for more enjoyment of life in the flesh, or for a wealthy life, but you have seized the opportunity for salvation. The fact that you have lost or let go of those things, means that your choice has brought you hope and vitality for salvation. You haven’t lost anything. On the contrary, if, after having the food and clothing, you exert extra time and energy, earn more money, acquire more material pleasures, and your flesh is satisfied, yet in doing so, you’ve ruined the hope of your own salvation, then this undoubtedly is not a good thing for you. You should be upset and anxious about it; you should adjust your work or your attitude about life and demands concerning physical life quality; you should let go of certain desires, plans, and agendas for life in the flesh that do not align with reality. You should pray to God, come into His presence, and resolve to fulfill your own duty, throwing your mind and body into the various tasks in God’s house, striving so that in the future, on the day when God’s work is concluded, when God examines the work of every person, and measures the statures of all classes of people, you will be a part of them. When God’s great work is accomplished, when the gospel of God’s kingdom has spread throughout the universe, when this joyous scene unfolds, there will be your toil, your investment, and your sacrifice. When God receives glory, when His work is expanded throughout the universe, when everyone is celebrating the successful accomplishment of God’s great work, at the unfolding of that moment of joy, you will be the one who is connected to this joy. You will be a partaker in this joy, not the one who will weep and gnash their teeth, who will beat their breast and pound their back while everyone else is shouting and jumping for joy, not the one receiving severe punishment, who will be thoroughly despised and cast out by God. Of course, even better is that when God’s great work is accomplished, you will possess God’s words as life. You will be a person who has been saved, no longer rebelling against God, no longer violating principles, but someone who is compatible with God. At the same time, you will also rejoice over everything you gave up initially: the high salary, fleshly pleasures, good material treatment, a superior living environment, and the appreciation, promotion, and elevation given by leaders. You won’t regret things like not giving up opportunities for promotion, not pursuing opportunities to increase your salary and build wealth, or the chance to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle. In short, the requirements and standards for the profession one engages in, which are also principles of practice they should obey, are all summed up in this saying: “Be content with food and clothing.” Pursuing the truth to attain life is what people should hold on to. They should not forsake the truth and the right path in order to satisfy their own fleshly desires and enjoyment. This constitutes the second principle people should uphold with respect to a career.
Regarding the topic of letting go of one’s career, today we discussed two principles. Have you understood these two principles? (Yes.) With the principles clear, the next step is to evaluate, based on these principles, how to practice them. Ultimately, those who can uphold these principles are the ones following the way of God, while those who cannot uphold the principles are deviating from God’s way. It’s as simple as that. If you can uphold the principles, you will attain the truth; if you don’t uphold the principles, you will lose the truth. Attaining the truth provides the hope of salvation; failing to attain the truth will lead to losing the hope of salvation—that’s just how it is. Alright, let’s conclude the fellowship here for today. Goodbye!
June 10, 2023