18. The Consequences of Pursuing Comfort
I made videos in the church. During the work, I found that production on the more difficult projects required great expenditure, with the effects in every frame needing to be tried and modified repeatedly, and there were frequent failures. But on projects that were relatively simple, less effort was required, and the rate of success was greater. I thought, “Difficult projects have high technical requirements, I have to spend time thinking, finding materials to analyze and study, and the production cycle is long. Simpler projects aren’t so much trouble, I only need to master some simple methods and skills, and the production cycle is shorter, which means they can be completed more quickly. It seems like producing the simpler ones will save me a lot of trouble.” So, in my duties, I took stock of which projects were difficult and which were simple and then decided which to take. Once, I chose a simple project to do, and left the complicated ones to my brothers and sisters. When I saw how my brothers and sisters readily agreed, I felt a little guilty: Wasn’t I just shrinking back in the face of difficulties, and being unwilling to grasp the nettle? But then I thought, “Difficult projects take too much of my time and energy, and they consume too much mental effort, that is exhausting, so it is best for me to choose simple projects.” Once, after completing a project, I felt there was room for improvement, but I didn’t want to work too hard to change anything. I noticed my brothers and sisters didn’t see any problems when they checked it, so I didn’t make any changes and passed it off. Sometimes, when I had problems in producing videos, I only thought about them for a moment, and then I went to ask my brothers and sisters. I felt that this not only solved the problem quickly, it also didn’t tire me out, so it was an easy way to finish my tasks. But when I did this, I felt a sense of self-blame, because these questions were actually very simple, and I could have solved them with a little effort. Asking my brothers and sisters delayed their duties, but I didn’t reflect on myself. This kind of trickery therefore became the norm in how I performed my duties.
In addition to making videos, I had to lead my brothers and sisters in study, and raise everyone’s professional skills, so I had to work more than usual. I not only had to learn professional skills, I had to find material and prepare lessons based on what my brothers and sisters needed and what their shortcomings were. It all felt like a difficult and tiring task. So I started thinking about how I could save time and not feel so tired, and I decided to send the tutorials to my brothers and sisters so they could watch them by themselves. That way, I wouldn’t have to spend time and effort preparing class. I felt there couldn’t be a better method. After a while, my brothers and sisters said the tutorials didn’t solve their problems. At the time, I felt a bit sorry, so with no other choice, I found some materials to teach everyone in a simple manner, and I thought that it was sufficient to have organized everyone in study. Before long, our team leader said there were problems in a video we recently made, which delayed our work progress. When I heard that, I didn’t reflect or try to understand myself, and I felt this duty not only required suffering and paying a price, it required responsibility if things went wrong, and there was a lot of work for little result, so I wanted this duty even less.
One day, my leader came to me and exposed me for muddling through and being cunning in my duties, and said if things didn’t change, I would be dismissed. When I heard my leader say that, although I admitted I was muddling through my duties, I didn’t feel any repentance. When I thought of the difficulties and problems I would have to face in the future, I didn’t want to perform this duty anymore. I wanted to switch to an easier duty. The next day, I went to my leader and said, “I’m not capable of this duty. I’d like to switch to another duty.” She dealt with me after hearing that, saying, “You really can’t perform this duty? Did you actually try? You always avoid hard work, you muddle through and attempt cunning, and you have bad humanity. Given those behaviors, you really aren’t cut out for this.” When I heard my leader say this, it felt like my heart had suddenly been hollowed out. I saw the brothers and sisters all busy with their duties, but I had been dismissed and lost my own. I can’t put into words how sad I was. I had never considered I might really lose my duty. But then I thought, “God holds sovereignty over all things. My dismissal is the coming of God’s righteous disposition. I need to obey and reflect on and know myself.” In the days that followed, the scene of my leader dismissing me played over and over in my mind like a movie. When I thought of what the leader said, I felt miserable, especially my leader saying I had bad humanity. I didn’t know how to reflect on or know myself, so in my pain, I prayed to God to ask Him to guide me in understanding myself.
Later, I saw some of God’s words, “It is something within a corrupt disposition to handle things so flippantly and irresponsibly: It is scumminess people refer to. In all matters, they say ‘that’s about right’ and ‘close enough’; it is an attitude of ‘maybe,’ ‘possibly,’ and ‘four-out-of-five’; they do things perfunctorily, are satisfied to do the minimum, and are satisfied to muddle along as they can; they see no point in taking things seriously or striving for precision, and they see less point in seeking the principles of the truth. Is this not something within a corrupt disposition? Is it a manifestation of normal humanity? It is not. To call it arrogance is right, and to call it dissolute is also entirely apt—but to capture it perfectly, the only word that will do is ‘scummy.’ Most people have scumminess within them, just to different degrees. In all matters, they wish to do the least possible, to see what they can get away with, and there is a whiff of deceit in everything they do. They cheat others when they can, cut corners when they are able, save time when they can. They think to themselves, ‘So long as I avoid being revealed, and cause no problems, and am not called to account, then I can muddle through this. Doing a job well is more trouble than it is worth.’ Such people learn nothing to mastery, and they do not apply themselves or suffer and pay a price in their studies. They want only to get the patchwork sense of a subject and then call themselves proficient at it, believing they have learned all there is to know, and then rely on this to muddle their way through. Is this not an attitude people have toward things? Is it a good attitude? It is not. Simply put, it is to ‘muddle through.’ Such scumminess exists in all of corrupt mankind. People with scumminess in their humanity take the view and attitude of ‘muddling through’ on anything they do. Are such people able to perform their duty properly? No. Are they able to do things with principle? Even more unlikely” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part Two)). “How can one tell the difference between noble and base people? Simply look at their attitude, way of doing things, and what is manifested in them in their treatment of people, events, and things—look at how they act, how they handle things, and how they behave when issues arise. People with character and dignity are meticulous, serious and diligent in their actions, and they are willing to make sacrifices. People without character and dignity are desultory and slipshod in their actions, always up to some trick, always wanting to just muddle through. They learn no skill to mastery, and they never learn anything properly no matter how long they spend studying it, they remain confounded by ignorance in key matters and common issues relating to their area of specialty. If you do not press them for answers, forget it; when you do, they panic—sweat drenches their brows, and they have no response. What kind of people are these? These are people of low character, they are trash, worthless” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part Two)). God’s words pierced my heart, especially His words, “they cheat others when they can, cut corners when they are able,” “without character and dignity,” and “low character.” Every word revealed my humanity and my attitude to my duties. I realized this was exactly how I performed my duties. I muddled through all I did, and only did things to a passable standard. I always sought ways to avoid suffering, to do things more easily, and never thought of how to perform my duties well. For fleshly comfort and to avoid suffering, I always chose to do the simpler, easier projects. After I’d finished, even when I saw problems and room for improvement, I was unwilling to make changes, just trying to muddle through. When our team needed to learn professional skills, I felt it was too tiring to organize my brothers and sisters in study. So for the sake of my fleshly comfort, I tried tricks and cunning to make my brothers and sisters watch the tutorials by themselves, which meant their skills never improved, made their duties less effective, and delayed the progress of work. Everywhere in my duties, I used tricks and deceit, I never gave thought to the work of the church. I had no humanity at all! I really was selfish, despicable, and had low character! As I reflected on these things, I felt a deep sense of regret and guilt. After that, I read in God’s word, “On the surface, some people do not seem to have any serious problems throughout the time they perform their duty. They do nothing overtly evil; they do not cause disruptions or disturbances, or walk the path of the antichrists. In performing their duty, they do not have any major mistakes or problems of principle come up, yet, without realizing it, in a few short years they are exposed as not accepting the truth at all, as being one of the nonbelievers. Why is this so? Others cannot see an issue, but God scrutinizes these people’s innermost hearts, and He sees the problem. They have always been perfunctory and unrepentant in the performance of their duty. As time goes on, they are naturally exposed. What does it mean to remain unrepentant? It means that though they have performed their duty throughout, they have always had the wrong attitude toward it, an attitude of carelessness and perfunctoriness, a casual attitude, and they are never conscientious, much less devoted. They may put in a little effort, but they are just going through the motions. They are not giving it their all, and their transgressions are without end. From God’s vantage, they have never repented; they have always been perfunctory, and there has never been any change in them—that is, they do not relinquish the evil in their hands and repent to Him. God does not see in them an attitude of repentance, and He does not see a reversal in their attitude. They are persistent in regarding their duty and God’s commission with such an attitude and such a method. Throughout, there is no change in this stubborn, intransigent disposition, and, what is more, they have never felt indebted to God, have never felt that their carelessness and perfunctoriness is a transgression, an evildoing. In their hearts, there is no indebtedness, no guilt, no self-reproach, and much less is there self-accusation. And, as much time passes, God sees that this person is beyond remedy. No matter what God says, and no matter how many sermons they hear or how much of the truth they understand, their heart is not moved and their attitude is not altered or turned around. God sees this and says: ‘There is no hope for this person. Nothing I say touches their heart, and nothing I say turns them around. There is no means of changing them. This person is unfit to perform their duty, and they are unfit to render service in My house.’ Why does God say this? It is because when they perform their duty and do work they are consistently careless and perfunctory. No matter how much they are pruned and dealt with, and no matter how much forbearance and patience are extended to them, it has no effect and cannot make them truly repent or change. It cannot make them do their duty well, it cannot allow them to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. So this person is beyond remedy. When God determines that a person is beyond remedy, will He still keep a tight hold on this person? He will not. God will let them go” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). “How you regard God’s commissions is extremely important, and this is a very serious matter. If you cannot complete what God has entrusted to people, then you are not fit to live in His presence and should be punished. It is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that humans should complete whatever commissions God entrusts to them; this is their supreme responsibility, and is just as important as their very lives. If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). I read God’s word over and over. I realized that in the past, despite outwardly appearing to perform my duties, in my heart, I was betraying God. I shirked heavy duties, considered only my fleshly interests, was unwilling to suffer and pay a price, and I always muddled through with tricks and cunning. Even when I could do my work better, I didn’t, because I felt although it wasn’t done very well, it was at least done, and that was enough. I never took the problem of my own muddling through seriously, and I never reflected on myself. My leader exposed and warned me, but I didn’t feel the slightest repentance and still considered my fleshly interests. When I thought of how my duty required hard work and paying a price, I didn’t want the duty anymore. Why was I so numb and stubborn? God gave me chance after chance to repent and change, which was God’s mercy for me, but I considered only my fleshly interests, didn’t seek the truth or reflect on myself, and continued to stubbornly oppose God. I was so rebellious! One’s duty is a commission and responsibility given by God, and they should do their utmost to fulfill it. But I had shirked heavy duties, muddled through to deceive God, and even had the cheek to ask for a lighter duty. Wasn’t this resisting and betraying God? God’s righteous disposition tolerates no offense, and God loathed all I had done. My dismissal showed God’s righteousness. When I realized this, I felt a little frightened. I also felt contrition for doing things heartbreaking to God. I could no longer muddle through like this. I had to repent and change.
After that, I spread the gospel with my brothers and sisters. Because I hadn’t mastered the principles and wasn’t good at talking with people, the duty felt very difficult, and again I didn’t want to work hard or pay the price. But I thought of my previous neglectful attitude toward my duty, and I realized being able to preach the gospel now was God’s great mercy for me. I shouldn’t run away when I faced trouble like before. Once I realized that, I felt much more active in making progress. I reflected on myself: Why did I want to shrink back and escape as soon as my duty felt troublesome? I read in God’s words: “Today, you do not believe the words I say, and you pay no attention to them; when the day comes for this work to spread and you see the entirety of it, you will regret, and at that time you will be dumbfounded. There are blessings, yet you do not know to enjoy them, and there is the truth, yet you do not pursue it. Do you not bring contempt upon yourself? Today, although the next step of God’s work has yet to begin, there is nothing exceptional about the demands that are made of you and what you are asked to live out. There is so much work, and so many truths; are they not worthy of being known by you? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of awakening your spirit? Is God’s chastisement and judgment incapable of making you hate yourself? Are you content to live under the influence of Satan, with peace and joy, and a little fleshly comfort? Are you not the lowliest of all people? None are more foolish than those who have beheld salvation but do not pursue to gain it; these are people who gorge themselves on the flesh and enjoy Satan. You hope that your faith in God will not entail any challenges or tribulations, or the slightest hardship. You always pursue those things that are worthless, and you attach no value to life, instead putting your own extravagant thoughts before the truth. You are so worthless! You live like a pig—what difference is there between you, and pigs and dogs? Are those who do not pursue the truth, and instead love the flesh, not all beasts? Are those dead ones without spirits not all walking corpses? … I bestow real human life upon you, yet you do not pursue. Are you no different from a pig or a dog? Pigs do not pursue the life of man, they do not pursue being cleansed, and they do not understand what life is. Each day, after eating their fill, they simply sleep. I have given you the true way, yet you have not gained it: You are empty-handed. Are you willing to continue in this life, the life of a pig? What is the significance of such people being alive? Your life is contemptible and ignoble, you live amid filth and licentiousness, and you do not pursue any goals; is your life not the most ignoble of all? Do you have the gall to look upon God? If you continue to experience in this way, will you not acquire nothing? The true way has been given to you, but whether or not you can ultimately gain it depends on your own personal pursuit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). Every one of God’s questions pierced my heart, as if God was calling me to account face to face, and I felt greatly in His debt. The incarnate God has expressed so much truth to water and supply us, so that we can gain the truth, cast off our corrupt dispositions, and have the chance to be saved. This is God’s greatest blessing for humankind. The truly wise will cherish the chance provided by God’s work, and seize their time to pursue the truth, fulfill the duties of a created being, pursue a change in their life disposition in the course of their duties, and finally they will understand the truth and be saved by God. But the blind and ignorant strive for fleshly enjoyment, they just get by, and they don’t work hard to pursue the truth. They go through the motions and make little effort in their duties, and no matter how long they believe, they never understand the truth, achieve no change in their life disposition, and are ultimately cast out by God. I thought about my behaviors. Wasn’t I precisely this kind of ignorant person? Satanic philosophies like “Live life on autopilot” and “Laziness has its blessings” were the principles I lived by. Each day I settled for the status quo, worked to get by, and sought fleshly comforts. I had believed in God for years without pursuing the truth, and without reflecting on whether I had achieved change in my disposition, nor whether my duty accorded with God’s will. My fleshly enjoyment was more important to me than gaining the truth, so I consistently shirked the heavy duties, muddled through and resorted to tricks and deceit, and refused to pay a price in anything that I did. This caused my duties not only to achieve no results, it also delayed and impacted the work of the church. And even like that, I felt no remorse or guilt. I was truly numb. It was only then that I realized that, living by these false laws of Satan, only seeking fleshly comfort, making no effort to seek progress, becoming ever more corrupt, my conscience ever more numb, without any goals in my life—wasn’t I just wasting my life? I only had myself to blame for losing my duty. I was too lazy, I was frivolous with my own character, and I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s trust, which disgusted my brothers and sisters and made God loathe me. In the past, I felt duties with high requirements and many tasks were equivalent to suffering. But in fact this wasn’t suffering for my duties at all. Obviously, my nature was too lazy and selfish, and I was too concerned with the flesh. Although I had to make an effort and pay a price when I encountered difficulties in my duties, these were all things I could bear, because God never teaches pigs to sing. And God used these difficulties to show my corrupt disposition and deficiencies, so that I could know myself, seek the truth to resolve problems, and change my life disposition. At the same time, God hoped I could learn to look up to Him and rely on Him in the face of these difficulties, and have sincere faith. In the past, I was ignorant, blind, and didn’t understand God’s will. I lost many opportunities to gain the truth and be perfected by God, and I allowed this wonderful time to pass me by in vain. Although I had fleshly comfort, and didn’t suffer or pay much of a price, I didn’t possess any reality of the truth and my corrupt dispositions weren’t resolved, I accrued no good deeds in my duties, I delayed the work of the church, and God loathed me. If I continued to live in such a muddle-headed manner, I would completely lose God’s salvation in the end. Realizing all of this, I felt deep repentance, I loathed myself, and I didn’t want to live that way anymore.
One day, during my devotional, I read two passages of God’s word: “Today’s pursuit is entirely for the sake of laying the foundation for future work, so that you may be used by God and can bear witness to Him. If you make this the goal of your pursuit, you will be able to gain the presence of the Holy Spirit. The higher you set the goal of your pursuit, the more you can be perfected. The more you pursue the truth, the more the Holy Spirit works. The more energy you put into your pursuit, the more you will gain. The Holy Spirit perfects people according to their inner state. Some people say that they are not willing to be used by God or perfected by Him, that they just want their flesh to remain safe and not suffer any misfortune. Some people are unwilling to enter into the kingdom yet willing to descend into the bottomless pit. In that case, God will also grant your wish. Whatever you pursue, God will make it happen. So what are you pursuing at present? Is it being perfected? Are your present actions and behaviors for the sake of being perfected by God and being gained by Him? You must constantly measure yourself thus in your daily life. If you put all your heart into the pursuit of a single goal, God will assuredly perfect you. Such is the path of the Holy Spirit. The path on which the Holy Spirit guides people is attained by means of their pursuit. The more you thirst to be perfected and gained by God, the more the Holy Spirit will work within you. The more you fail to seek, and the more negative and retrogressive you are, the more you deprive the Holy Spirit of opportunities to work; as time goes on, the Holy Spirit will abandon you. Do you wish to be perfected by God? Do you wish to be gained by God? Do you wish to be used by God? You should pursue doing everything for the sake of being perfected, gained, and used by God, so that the universe and all things can see God’s actions manifested in you. You are the master among all things, and in the midst of all that there is, you will let God enjoy testimony and glory through you—this is proof that you are the most blessed of all generations!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words). “You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and you should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). I understood from God’s word that to gain the truth in our duties, we need to forsake the flesh and practice the truth, and finally we’ll be able to cast off our corrupt dispositions and be perfected by God. This is the most meaningful and valuable way to live. To abandon the truth for temporary fleshly comfort is to live without integrity, without dignity, and it is also to lose the work of the Holy Spirit, and finally be abandoned and cast out by God and lose our chance at salvation. I also learned that to resolve the problem of craving fleshly comfort, we need to have hearts that pursue the truth, often reflect on ourselves when things happen, focus our efforts on our duties, and when we encounter difficulties, be able to put aside the flesh, forsake ourselves, and protect the work of the church. This is how to receive the guidance and work of the Holy Spirit. Once I realized these things, my heart felt brightened, and I swore I would forsake the flesh and use all my efforts in my duties. After that, I conscientiously considered how to preach the gospel well. When principles weren’t clear to me, I sought with my brothers and sisters, and I made time to study with everyone else. Later, as those examining the true way became more numerous, there were more things for me to do. Yet I didn’t feel like they were so troublesome anymore. Instead, I felt they were things I ought to do and my responsibility. Although I was very busy every day, I felt enriched.
Unexpectedly one day, my leader came to me and asked me to return to making videos. When I heard the news, I was very excited. Apart from being grateful to God, I didn’t know what to say. I recalled how I had cared for the flesh, dealt with my duties lightly and muddled through, and I felt especially indebted to God. I couldn’t make up for my past mistakes, so I could only be diligent and pay a price in my duties thereafter, and, in fulfilling my duties, repay God’s love. Later, when I faced difficulties in my duties, I consciously prayed to God and considered how to resolve them. Once, one of my projects didn’t come out very well, and the team leader and supervisor didn’t know how to fix it. I was also trapped in difficulty and didn’t know how to start fixing it. I thought, “If I keep trying to fix it, spend my time, and work on this, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it right, so maybe someone else should do this.” I realized those thoughts were me trying to avoid difficulty again, so I quickly prayed to God. I recalled God’s words, “When a duty is before you, and it is entrusted to you, do not think of how to avoid difficulty; if something’s difficult, don’t put it to one side and ignore it. You must face it head on. At all times must you remember that God is with people, that whenever they have any difficulty, they need only pray and seek an answer from God, and that with God, nothing is hard. You must have this faith” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s word gave me a path of practice. No matter what problems and difficulties we encounter, we should rely on God to seek ways to resolve them. We shouldn’t try to avoid difficulties or shrink from our duties due to fleshly suffering. That way is betrayal of God and disloyalty to one’s duty. Once I realized this, I promised myself that this time I would rely on God and put in the work to fix it. So I calmed down and tried to fix it, and to my surprise the problem was solved in no time. After watching it, everyone felt it was good and had no suggestions. After practicing like this, my heart was peaceful and at ease. I felt that only by paying a price in one’s duty can one have human dignity. Thank God!