44. I Finally See the Truth About Myself
By Shen Xinwei, Italy
My duty in the church in 2018 was translating documents, working with Sister Zhang and Sister Liu. We got along great. During a gathering, we fellowshiped on how a false leader was discerned. This was Sister Liu’s assessment of the false leader: “He switches people around without any principles. He transferred Sister Zhang out but kept another sister on the team who isn’t as attentive or hard-working in her duty.” When the other leader read this to brothers and sisters my face immediately went bright red. I felt Sister Liu’s words were particularly harsh. I forced myself to keep my composure, but inside I was in turmoil. With only three of us on the team, I was sure I was the one she’d mentioned. I felt like everyone would think I wasn’t attentive or hard-working in my duty. How could I hold my head up after that? I had a chip on my shoulder against Sister Liu from then on and our relationship grew more distant.
She was chosen as team leader before long. She was really conscientious, carefully checking everything I translated. I kept a positive attitude at first, but after a while I began to feel resistant to her. I felt I’d been doing that duty for quite a while but she still didn’t trust me, as if my skills were lacking. She also gave me suggestions from time to time, so I felt like she looked down on me and was making things difficult. What I really couldn’t stand was that when we discussed our work, she’d always bring up my shortcomings in front of the person in charge. I thought, “Aren’t you just trying to make me look bad in front of him?” My resentment toward her grew and grew, and that chip on my shoulder got bigger. In our work together after that, I just hated the sight of her and she irritated me. I didn’t like her following up on my work and I’d pull a long face whenever she gave me pointers. Sometimes I’d think about how I could make her look bad and cut her down to size. I didn’t want to help her when I saw issues in her duty, but instead thought less of her and even hoped she’d hit a wall in her duty to teach her a lesson. Once, Sister Liu opened up in a gathering, saying she felt stifled by me in our cooperation, that I was too hot-tempered and she didn’t know how to work with me. My temper flared up just as soon as she said that. I thought, “Aren’t you just trying to expose me to the others under the guise of opening up? Now that everyone knows my temper is stifling for you, what will they think of me?” I felt angrier the more I thought about it. I felt like she was trying to make me look bad. I developed a bias against her and sat there pouting in silence for the rest of the gathering. Afterward, Sister Liu noticed I seemed a bit off, so she came and said to me quietly, “You look upset, and you didn’t say anything in the gathering. If there’s something on your mind, I’m happy to talk about it. You can let me know about any shortcomings I may have, too.” But I couldn’t stand the sight of her and felt nothing but aversion toward her. I thought, “You really have to ask? Who’d be happy to hear you ‘open up’ this way?” Then she sat down right next to me. I shot her a look, full of disdain, and just couldn’t contain my anger when I thought about her bad-mouthing me in front of everyone. I let loose on her about her faults and the corruption she showed, saying she lacked wisdom, intentionally made others look bad, stifled people, and that she was really arrogant. I went on and on. I felt placated when I saw her looking dejected with her head hanging. I’d vented all that pent-up anger I’d been holding on to. Then Sister Liu said to me, “I never imagined I had hurt you so much. I really apologize.” I felt a pang of guilt when I saw her turn away from me and furtively wipe away her tears. Had I gone too far? Would this put her into a negative state? But then I thought, “I was just being honest. I said this so she could know herself.” At that, my guilt just evaporated. Sister Liu was even more constrained by me after that, and she no longer dared to follow up on my work, much less give me suggestions.
A few days later, our church leader had everyone write assessments of team leaders so she could evaluate their effectiveness according to the principles. I was secretly delighted to hear this. I was eager to expose all of the corruption Sister Liu had revealed so everyone could know her for what she was, and she could be taken down a notch. I felt a fleeting uneasiness and realized my thinking was wrong, that I should be fair and objective, and accept God’s scrutiny. I intended to be fair and objective in my evaluation, but when I thought about how Sister Liu always put me on the spot I was just overflowing with resentment. I poured all of my biases against her into that assessment hoping that the leader would seriously deal with her or even transfer her out. I’d be happy as long as she wasn’t in my team. Sister Liu was dismissed before long. This news left me feeling uneasy. I thought, “Did that have anything to do with what I wrote? I just wrote about some of her corruption, but that shouldn’t have gotten her dismissed, right?” I saw Sister Liu was in a negative state after that and I had a vague sense of guilt. I didn’t have any energy for my duty.
I talked to the leader about my state two days later, who told me that Sister Liu had been dismissed mostly because of her limited caliber and she wasn’t up to being a team leader. It had nothing to do with my assessment. But she did say that I was relentless about her shortcomings and couldn’t treat people fairly, that I was vindictive and had a malicious disposition. My heart dropped into my stomach when I heard that. Aren’t “vindictive” and “malicious disposition” things we say about evil people? For a few days I was hit with waves of distress whenever I thought about what she’d said. I wondered if I really was a malicious person. I came before God in prayer in the midst of my pain: “Oh God, this sister said I have a malicious disposition, but I can’t see it. Please enlighten me so that I may truly know myself.”
I read this passage of God’s words after praying: “Are you capable of thinking up various ways to punish people because they are not to your liking or because they do not get along with you? Have you ever done that sort of thing before? How much of it have you done? Were you not always indirectly belittling people, making cutting remarks, and being sarcastic toward them? (Yes.) In what states were you in when you were doing such things? At the time, you were venting, and felt happy; you had gained the upper hand. Afterward, however, you thought to yourselves, ‘I did such a despicable thing. I am not God-fearing, and I have treated that person so unfairly.’ Deep down, did you feel guilty? (Yes.) Though you are not God-fearing, you at least have some sense of conscience. Thus, are you still capable of doing this kind of thing again in the future? Can you contemplate attacking and seeking revenge against people, giving them a hard time and showing them who is the boss whenever you despise them and fail to get along with them, or whenever they do not obey or listen to you? Will you say, ‘If you don’t do what I want, I’ll find an opportunity to punish you without anyone knowing about it. No one will find out, but I will make you submit before me; I’ll show you my power. After that, no one will dare to mess with me!’ Tell Me this: What sort of humanity is possessed by a person who does such a thing? In terms of his humanity, he is malicious. Measured against the truth, he does not revere God” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I was gutted after reading God’s words of judgment. They had revealed my precise state. Thinking back, Sister Liu and I had worked really well together at first. I developed an issue with her when her assessment of someone else touched upon me and hurt my pride in front of other people. She started bringing up my deficiencies after she became team leader. I felt like I lost face and was being put on the spot. She started to really irritate me and I wanted to make a fool of her. When she opened up about her state to find a resolution, I thought she was just exposing my shortcomings and shaming me, compromising my image in front of brothers and sisters. My bias against her grew and I magnified her problems to expose her, acting out of malice and making her negative. I used my assessment of her as a chance to take revenge. I wrote out all of her shortcomings and her corruption that I’d noticed without mentioning her strong points at all. I just wanted the leader to gain discernment on her, and hopefully have her transferred out. Thinking back on the way I’d acted was incredibly uncomfortable for me. I’d nursed a grievance only because Sister Liu’s words had touched upon my face and status, so I took a hostile stance against her. I did whatever I felt like doing. I realized I was totally lacking reverence for God and I did have a really malicious nature! I used to think I got along really well with brothers and sisters and that I was eager to help anyone facing difficulties. I thought I was a good person because I did some good things. Now I realized that was only because no one had compromised my personal interests. My satanic disposition came out in full force when my interests were involved. I couldn’t help but strike out and get revenge. I realized that without resolving that disposition, I could do evil at any point. That was so dangerous!
I reflected on myself after that. If I was capable of that kind of evil, what thoughts were controlling me? I read these words from God: “The source of man’s opposition and rebelliousness against God is his corruption by Satan. Because of Satan’s corruption, man’s conscience has grown numb; he is immoral, his thoughts are degenerate, and he has a backward mental outlook. Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words after hearing them. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, man’s original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely opposes and rebels blindly. Man’s disposition is revealed in expressions of his sense, insight, and conscience; because his sense and insight are unsound, and his conscience has grown supremely dull, thus his disposition is rebellious against God” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “People think like this: ‘If you’re not going to be kind, then I won’t be just! If you’re rude to me, then I’ll be rude to you as well! If you don’t treat me with dignity, why would I treat you with dignity?’ What sort of thinking is this? Is it not a vengeful way of thinking? In the views of an ordinary person, is this type of perspective not viable? ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’; ‘Here’s a taste of your own medicine’—among unbelievers, these are all rationales that hold water and completely conform to human notions. However, as someone who believes in God—as someone who seeks to understand the truth and seeks a change in disposition—would you say that such words are right or wrong? What should you do to discern them? Where do such things come from? They come from the malicious nature of Satan; they contain venom, and they contain the true face of Satan in all its maliciousness and ugliness. They contain the very essence of that nature. What is the character of the perspectives, thoughts, expressions, speech, and even actions that contain that nature’s essence? Are they not of Satan? Are these aspects of Satan in line with humanity? Are they in line with the truth, or with the reality of the truth? Are they the actions that followers of God should do, and the thoughts and points of view that they should possess? (No.)” (“Only Resolving Your Corrupt Disposition Can Free You From a Negative State” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I realized that people are so corrupt and evil entirely because of Satan’s corruption. Through formal education and social influences, Satan, the devil, steeps us in all of its poisons, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “I will not attack unless I am attacked; if I am attacked, I will certainly counterattack,” “Here’s a taste of your own medicine,” and “It is never too late for a gentleman to take his revenge.” People take these as their laws for survival without even realizing it. They become more arrogant, crafty, selfish, and malicious all the time. People aren’t genuinely caring or forgiving, and there’s no real love. They just get offended and keep their distance when anything touches their personal interests. They might even make enemies or take revenge. People become colder and more distant and lose all sense of normal humanity. I’d been steeped in that kind of thinking and lived by these things since I was little. When someone else touched on my own interests, I couldn’t help but hate them and take revenge. In my time with Sister Liu, she said and did things that compromised my interests, so I became resentful and jumped on my chance to get back at her. I wanted her to see what I was made of so she wouldn’t dare offend me again. I even wanted to drive her out. How was my behavior any different from the antichrists and evil people the church had expelled? Those people just wanted others’ approval and praise but couldn’t tolerate any frank words that exposed their corruption. They would strike out against anyone who said or did anything to offend them. With all their evil, they ended up offending God’s disposition, they angered others, and they got kicked out of the church. They lost their chance at salvation for good. And I was lashing out at Sister Liu just because her words had wounded my pride. I’d done nothing but hurt her. I was doing evil! I saw what terrible humanity I had, that I had the same evil nature and essence as an antichrist, an evildoer, and this was disgusting to God. If I didn’t repent right away, I’d just sink into evil and be punished by God just like an antichrist, an evildoer! This scared me more as I thought about it. I came before God in prayer: “Oh God, I’m so lacking in humanity. I was living in my corrupt disposition and lashed out at my sister. I don’t resemble a human at all. Without You creating this situation to deal with me, I never would have reflected on myself. I would have kept doing evil and hurting her. God, I wish to repent. I don’t want to live by Satan’s poisons anymore. Please guide me to be a conscientious, reasonable person with humanity.”
I read this in God’s words after that: “Love and hatred are things which normal humanity should possess, but you must differentiate clearly between what you love and what you hate. In your heart, you should love God, love the truth, love positive things, and love your brothers and sisters, whereas you should hate the devil Satan, hate negative things, hate antichrists, and hate wicked people. If you harbor hatred for your brothers and sisters, then you will be inclined to suppress them and take revenge on them; this would be very frightening. Some people only have thoughts of hatred and evil ideas. After a while, if such people cannot get along with the person they hate, they will start to distance themselves from him; however, they do not let this affect their duties or influence their normal interpersonal relationships, because they have God in their hearts and they revere Him. They do not want to offend God, and are afraid to do so. Though these people might harbor certain views about someone, they never put those thoughts into action or even utter a single word that is out of line, unwilling to offend God. What sort of behavior is this? This is an example of conducting themselves and handling things with principle and impartiality. You might be incompatible with someone’s personality, and you may not like him, but when you work together with him, you remain impartial and will not vent your frustrations in doing your duty, sacrifice your duty, or take out your frustrations on the interests of God’s family. You can do things according to principle; as such, you have a basic reverence for God. If you have a bit more than that, then when you see that someone has some faults or weaknesses—even if he has offended you or harmed your own interests—you still have it in you to help him. Doing so would be even better; it would mean that you are a person who possesses humanity, truth reality, and reverence for God” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I saw from God’s words that those who fear God can treat others according to principles of the truth. They may have some biases against brothers and sisters sometimes, but they’re not willful in their interactions and they don’t do anything to offend God or hurt others. People who don’t fear God do whatever their vicious hearts desire, and that’s doing evil and is condemned by God. Sister Liu was pretty direct, but what she said about me was honest. It wasn’t to target me. She also took her duty seriously and responsibly and most of her suggestions were helpful for our work. I shouldn’t have intentionally made things difficult with her. I opened up to her about my corruption and apologized. Sister Liu said she thought nothing of it, and she fellowshiped some truth to help me. I felt ashamed and hated myself even more. I didn’t want to live by my corrupt disposition anymore. After that, when Sister Liu gave me suggestions or something she said or did wounded my pride, I was able to handle it properly and focus on seeking the truth and self-reflection. We could work well together again. This was a great relief for me. I give thanks for God’s judgment which changed me in this small way.