11. Reflections on Seeking Name and Gain
By Martial, Côte d’Ivoire
In May 2021, I was elected as team leader and was responsible for the watering work. I was really happy when I heard the news because by watering my brothers and sisters, I would be able to gain a great degree of enlightenment and richer experiences. If I could solve the problems they faced in life entry, my brothers and sisters would certainly say I was good and someone who understands the truth, and that I could become a pillar of the church. So, I threw myself into my duties, often went to gatherings to fellowship with my brothers and sisters, and when they had difficulties, I took the initiative to seek within God’s word to help them resolve these difficulties. After a while, my brothers and sisters come to me for fellowship if they had any questions, and I was very happy.
Over time, as more people accepted God’s work in the last days, the number of people in the church gradually increased. One day, I learned that a church leader would come to water newcomers and follow up on my work. If the brothers and sisters had problems to resolve, they could also ask him. When I heard this, I wasn’t very happy at all because this leader had watered me before, had good caliber, understood more than me, fellowshiped on God’s word rather clearly, and was able to solve the problems of our brothers and sisters easily. I thought to myself, “Now, he’s coming to be my partner, so will the brothers and sisters come to me with all their questions like before? Will they push me aside and ask my leader? Who will look up to me in the future? My status in the hearts of brothers and sisters will be gone.” Thinking of this, I didn’t want to partner with the leader at all. At the same time, I felt a sense of crisis. I said to myself, “I can’t allow this. I need to maintain my status in the hearts of the brothers and sisters.” From then on, when I heard the brothers and sisters were in a bad state or had difficulties, I raced to fellowship with them and resolve their problems, out of fear my leader would get to them first. I also contacted the brothers and sisters individually to ask if they needed help, and told them if they had any questions or confusion, they could reach out to me and that I could help. That way, I thought the brothers and sisters would not seek out the leader with their problems. But things didn’t go as smoothly as I planned. I couldn’t see clearly into many of the problems they asked me about and I didn’t know how to solve them, but I didn’t want to ask the leader. I thought to myself, “If I ask the leader, won’t he think I don’t understand the truth and that I can’t solve problems? Moreover, if I leave the leader to resolve the brothers’ and sisters’ problems, won’t they think I’m incompetent and can’t help them?” I didn’t want to show them I couldn’t help them. I wanted everyone to know I was qualified for this work, so that they could keep asking me when they had questions. But it was hard for me to help my brothers and sisters on my own. There were some things I hadn’t experienced and didn’t know how to fellowship on with them to find a solution, and sometimes it took me several days to find relevant parts of God’s word to resolve their problems, and when other brothers and sisters came to me with questions, I didn’t have time to see to them. A month passed in this way, and because I couldn’t help some of my brothers and sisters in time, their problems remained unresolved and they continued to be in a bad state. I understood clearly that if I had told the leader about these problems I didn’t understand, we could have sought the truth together to help them, and everyone’s problems could have been resolved as soon as possible, but I didn’t do that. I felt a little guilty, knowing that if I continued to do this, I would certainly seriously hinder the life entry of my brothers and sisters.
One day, I saw a passage of God’s word, and only then did I have some understanding of my attitudes toward my duties. Almighty God says: “Duties are tasks entrusted to people by God; they are missions for people to complete. However, a duty is certainly not your own personally managed business, nor is it a counterweight to your standing out from the crowd. Some people use their duties as opportunities to engage in their own management and form cliques; some to satisfy their desires; some to fill the voids they feel inside; and some to satisfy their trust-to-luck mentality, thinking that as long as they fulfill their duties, they will have a share in God’s house and in the wonderful destination God arranges for man. Such attitudes about duty are incorrect; they disgust God and must be urgently resolved” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). In reading God’s word, I understood that our duties are a commission given to us by God, and not a personal matter, and that we shouldn’t treat our duties as a means to show off and make others admire us, nor should we use the fulfillment of duties as an opportunity to pursue reputation and status to make others admire us. We should instead treat our duties as an obligation and perform them as required by God. But what was my attitude toward my duty? I performed my duty to pursue fame and gain, and to satisfy my desires. I wanted my brothers and sisters to admire and worship me. I carried no burdens for their life, and I didn’t really want to help them, but I wanted them to have a good impression of me so that when they talked about me, they would say that I was very nice and kind. I used my duty to pursue fame, gain, and status, so that I had a place in people’s hearts, and so that they would come to me with problems and put God aside. I was running a personal enterprise. This is when I realized my attitude toward duty was wrong. Even if I could help brothers and sisters, my intention was not to do my duty well, which would never satisfy God.
Later, I saw a passage where God exposed antichrists, and it described my state well. Almighty God says: “Regardless of the context, no matter what duty they perform, the antichrist will try and give the impression that they aren’t weak, that they are always strong, full of confidence, never negative. They never reveal their real stature or real attitude toward God. In fact, in the depths of their heart, do they really believe there is nothing they cannot do? Do they genuinely believe that they are without weakness, negativity, or outpourings of corruption? Absolutely not. They are good at putting on an act, adept at hiding things. They like showing people their strong and honorable side; they don’t want them to see the side of them that is weak and true. Their purpose is obvious: It is, quite simply, to keep face, to protect the place they have in people’s hearts. They think that if they open up before others about their own negativity and weakness, if they reveal the side of them that is rebellious and corrupt, this will be grievous damage to their status and reputation—more trouble than it’s worth. So they would rather keep their weakness, rebelliousness, and negativity strictly to themselves. And if a day does come when everyone sees the side of them that is weak and rebellious, when they see that they are corrupt, and have not changed at all, they will still keep putting on an act. They think that if they admit to having a corrupt disposition, to being an ordinary person, someone who is small and insignificant, then they will lose their place in people’s hearts, will lose everyone’s veneration and adoration, and thus will have utterly failed. And so, whatever happens, they will not simply open up to people; whatever happens, they will not give their power and status to anyone else; instead, they try as hard as they can to compete, and will never give up” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Ten)). I understood after reading this passage of God’s word that antichrists like status. To maintain their good image in other people’s hearts, they never tell people their difficulties, for fear that everyone will see their shortcomings. Even when they encounter difficulties in their duties, they pretend, so that others see them as omnipotent and as someone who understands the truth. This was my state. I clearly had many problems I couldn’t resolve, but I didn’t ask anyone for help and I always disguised myself as I wanted to establish a good image of myself in people’s hearts to make my brothers and sisters think I had no shortcomings or deficiencies, and that I could help them solve all of their problems. To maintain my position and image in their hearts, I disguised myself, choosing to spend a lot of time searching within the word of God rather than seeking from the leader. The result was that I hindered my brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I saw that my corrupt disposition was serious, and that I was a hypocrite. I thought of how, in early Judaism, the Pharisees were outwardly humble and tolerant. They often prayed at the crossroads or explained the Scriptures to others. They had a good image in people’s hearts, but in reality, on the inside, they were hypocritical, arrogant, evil, they had no obedience or fear of God, and everything they did was not in obedience to the word of God. Instead, they deceived people with good conduct and created illusions to make others admire and worship them. I saw that I was just as hypocritical as the Pharisees and I was walking the antichrist’s path of resisting God.
Later, I read a passage of God’s word. “The essence of the behavior of antichrists is to constantly use various means and methods to achieve their goal of having status, of winning people over and making them follow and venerate them. It is possible that in the depths of their hearts they are not deliberately vying over humanity with God, but one thing is certain: Even when they do not vie with God for humans, they still wish to have status and power among them. Even if the day comes when they realize that they are vying with God for status, and they rein themselves in a bit, they still employ various methods to pursue status and prestige; it is clear to them in their hearts that they will secure legitimate status, by winning the approval and admiration of others. In short, though everything antichrists do appears to comprise a performance of their duties, its consequence is to dupe people, to make them worship and follow them—in which case, performing their duty in this way is exalting and testifying to themselves. Their ambition to control people—and to gain status and power in the church—will never change. This is an out-and-out antichrist. No matter what God says or does, and no matter what He asks of people, antichrists do not do what they should do or fulfill their duties in a way that befits His words and requirements, nor do they give up their pursuit of power and status as a result of understanding His utterances and a little of the meaning of the truth. Their ambition and desires still remain, they still occupy their hearts and control their whole being, directing their behavior and thoughts, and determining the path they walk. This is a bona fide antichrist. What is seen most of all in an antichrist? Some people say, ‘Antichrists vie with God to gain people, they do not recognize God.’ It is not that they do not recognize God; they do genuinely recognize and believe in Him, and they are willing to follow Him and pursue the truth, but one thing will never change: Their ambition and desire for power and status will never change, nor will they give up their pursuit of power and status because of failure or setback, or because God has set them aside or abandoned them. Such is the nature of antichrists” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Five). God says that antichrists pursue fame and status, to make people follow them and achieve their ambition of controlling and possessing people. They compete with God to possess people. This was the path of resisting God that I was walking. I believed in God and wanted to love Him, and I also knew God has sovereignty over all things and is above all. He is the Creator, and we should worship Him. But in the performance of my duties I always wanted to make people admire and worship me to gain a place for myself in people’s hearts. I was walking the path of the antichrist! I thought of the pastors and elders in the religious world, and how even though they preach the gospel, interpret the Bible, pray for people, give blessings, and ostensibly do some good deeds, their purpose in doing all this is to preserve their status and make believers look up to them and follow them and so that whenever believers have questions, they will go to them for guidance. Even when they hear of the Lord’s return and want to seek and investigate the true way, they seek their consent. Isn’t this making people treat them as God? These pastors and leaders exercise firm control over people, they are openly hostile to God, and become antichrists who believe in God yet resist Him at the same time. I was the same. I wanted my brothers and sisters to admire me, and to come to me and not the leader with all their problems. In fact, I had only been a believer for a short time and had little experience. I lacked insight into my brothers’ and sisters’ states and problems. I couldn’t help them very well at all, but I still didn’t seek the truth and was unwilling to partner with the leader, I just wanted the brothers and sisters to revolve around me. I was truly arrogant and unreasonable! In the past I felt only high-level leaders were likely to walk the antichrists’ path and become antichrists, and that as a team leader, without high status, I wouldn’t walk that path. But I now realized this view was mistaken. Without the judgment and revelation of God’s word, I never would have known that I was walking the path of the antichrist, and I would have lived by a corrupt disposition and done more evil, and been rejected and eliminated by God. I thanked God for enlightening and guiding me to realize this, and vowed to repent, no longer pursue fame, gain, and status, and perform my duty according to God’s requirements.
Later, I read another passage of God’s words. God says, “When God requires that people fulfill their duty well, He is not asking them to complete a certain number of tasks, or accomplish any great endeavors, nor to perform any great undertakings. What God wants is for people to be able to do all they can in a down-to-earth way, and live in accordance with His words. God does not need you to be great or honorable, nor does He need you to bring about any miracles, nor does He want to see any pleasant surprises in you. He does not need such things. All God needs is for you to steadfastly practice according to His words. When you listen to God’s words, do what you have understood, carry out what you have comprehended, remember what you have heard, and then, when the time comes to practice, practice according to God’s words, so that God’s words may become your life, your realities, and what you live out. Thus, God will be satisfied. You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and status; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and He will be apart from you. The more you pursue things like greatness, nobility, and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth obediently, standing in the position of a created being, acting by God’s words with one’s feet on the ground, performing one’s duties properly, trying to be an honest person, and living out the likeness of a human being. This is enough, God will be satisfied. People must be sure not to hold ambition or entertain idle dreams, not to seek fame, gains, and status or to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, they must not try to be a person of greatness or superhuman, who is superior among men and makes others worship them. That is the desire of corrupt humanity, and it is the path of Satan; God does not save such people. … Performing a duty isn’t actually difficult, nor is it hard to do so devotedly, and to an acceptable standard. You don’t have to sacrifice your life or do anything special or difficult, you merely have to follow the words and instructions of God honestly and steadfastly, without adding your own ideas or running your own operation, but walking the path of pursuing the truth. If people can do this, they basically have a human semblance. When they have true obedience to God, and have become an honest person, they will possess the likeness of a true human being” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). God’s words made me understand His will. Today, God has expressed many words to save people in the hope that we listen to His words, take our place as created beings, perform our duties faithfully according to His requirements, get rid of our corrupt dispositions, and be saved. In our duties we should not engage in personal enterprise to maintain our reputation and status. Instead, we should put aside ulterior motives, diligently pursue the truth and fulfill our duties as created beings to satisfy God. Thanks to the guidance of God’s word, I found a path of practice.
Several days later, a sister told me about her difficulties and said she needed help. I had no experience in this area and I didn’t know how to solve it. I realized I couldn’t behave as I had and refuse to cooperate with my leader to prove my competence, so I asked my leader about this problem. I said, “I can’t resolve this problem. Can you help me?” The leader found suitable parts of God’s word and sent them to me, and together, we partnered in fellowship and resolved the sister’s trouble. After that, whenever I had any problems I couldn’t understand, I would seek with my leader and cooperate with him, and no longer do things alone as I used to. My attitude is different from before. I don’t want to think about whether the brothers and sisters will look up to me. Instead, I think about how to better solve their problems. Practicing like this gives me a great sense of ease. Thank God!