24. Transformed Through My Duty
By Alicia, Spain
Last year, I was elected as team leader, and I was responsible for the work of graphic design. At first, because I didn’t quite grasp the principles and professional techniques of all aspects, I studied hard, and if I didn’t know something, I asked my brothers and sisters for help. After a while, I mastered some principles and achieved some results in my duty. I started to settle into the status quo, and I thought doing things this way was acceptable. After that, I rarely proactively studied to improve my skills. At the time, to make even better images, church leaders suggested that we learn and innovate more. I agreed verbally, but in my mind, I thought, “Innovation? That’s exhausting and laborious work, and the images I make now are pretty good. Why do we need to expend so much effort to innovate?” After that, I didn’t take it seriously. One day, my partner discovered a new way of creating images that would produce better results, and she recommended I learn it. I thought, “The results certainly are better, but I don’t know this technique, and even if I learn it, it will be time-consuming and troublesome. If we do things using our current techniques, not only do we save time and effort, we can also achieve some results, so why bother to learn the new one? What we do is good enough.” So, I still created images according to the old method. When following up on group work, I also started to try to save trouble. At the start, I was the only person in charge, so I was under a lot of pressure. Later, I was partnered with Sister Ella, and I was very happy. I thought, “Great, Ella is thorough in her duties, and she is willing to pay a price. I’ll let her be responsible for more work in the future. That way, I’ll be under much less stress, and I won’t have to worry so much.” Later, because there was so much to do for Ella, she said she was under a lot of pressure and felt that there wasn’t enough time. Not only did I not reflect on myself, I excused it by saying this was her chance to practice and continued to give her more work. At the time, I felt a little guilty and I felt my sister was under too much pressure, and I still gave her a lot of work, which was very unkind of me. But to stop myself from being tired, I kept doing this.
Carrying on like this, I didn’t study, I didn’t innovate, and kept pushing work onto others, leaving lots of free time for myself. In my spare time, I was able to do the things I enjoyed. During that period, I watched secular videos one right after another under the pretense of improving my sense of aesthetics. Even while reading God’s word and at gatherings, the video clips constantly surfaced in my mind, so I couldn’t calm myself and contemplate God’s word. I started focusing on carnal enjoyment, how to cook delicious meals, and I often watched various news videos online during my duty. Sometimes I watched too many and feared others would say I was neglecting my duty, so when someone passed by, I’d get nervous, quickly close the video window, and open the work interface, pretending to be working. As this went on, I bore less and less of a burden in my duty. When I followed up on the work, I just mechanically went through the motions. If my brothers and sisters said there was no difficulty, or no problem, that was best, and I didn’t want to work hard to find solutions when there were problems. I thought, “If I put effort into solving the problems everyone has, how much time and hard work would that take? I’ll just let them figure them out by themselves. I’ll just remind them to seek more with brothers and sisters who understand the techniques.” In this way, the rate at which I followed up on work gradually fell from asking once a week to once every half month. I actually sometimes felt guilty about it. God requires us to perform our duties with all our heart, mind, and strength, but I always avoided my duty like this to satisfy my carnal desires, which was not in line with God’s will. But from another angle, I hadn’t delayed image production, there was no obvious problem with my duty, and everything was going normally, so I didn’t think it was a big problem. Eventually, I could no longer feel God’s presence, I felt nothing when I prayed, reading God’s word didn’t enlighten me, and I didn’t have any inspiration to create images. The results of my duty became worse and worse. In addition, I didn’t seriously follow up the work, and when my brothers and sisters had difficulties, I didn’t care or take them seriously. So they became lazy in their duties, didn’t seek to advance, were satisfied with the status quo, made no progress in their duties, and didn’t produce good results in their work. Seeing this situation, I only felt something wasn’t right, but I was muddled and I didn’t reflect.
One day, my leader suddenly asked me, “You have been creating images for a long time, so why is the efficiency getting decreasing rather than increasing? It’s unbelievable how bad your work has become!” She also exposed me for not doing practical work, being a useless “cadre,” and making my brothers and sisters sloppy, inefficient, without quality in their duties under my leadership. She said doing my duties like this was muddling through, being deceptive, and harming the church, and that if I didn’t reflect and repent, it would be too late to regret when I lost my duty. At that time, though hearing the leader’s words was painful, I did not reflect on myself, and I just perfunctorily followed up on the group work and restrained myself from watching videos unrelated to my duty.
A month later, because of my long-term muddling through and slacking off, I was dismissed, and two other sisters lost their duties for failing to do real work. My leader exposed me for being neglectful in my duties, procrastinating, slacking off, and having hidden intentions, which was deceiving God. She said that I didn’t follow up on work or resolve my brothers’ and sisters’ problems, so in essence, I was shielding and condoning their behavior, which was harming the church. I was surprised when I heard the leader expose my behavior. I was performing my duty so badly that others couldn’t bear to see it, but I didn’t realize it at all. I felt like I wasn’t hindering work at all. Why was I so numb? I thought repeatedly, “I really did these things, and I did them with full awareness of what I was doing. I knew I should be loyal in my duty, but why could I still muddle through and shirk work like this? Just what kind of a person am I?” In my pain and confusion, I prayed to God and asked Him to guide me in knowing myself.
Then, I read God’s words: “Noah had heard but a few messages, and at that time God had not expressed many words, and so there is no question that Noah did not understand many truths. He did not comprehend modern science or modern knowledge. He was an exceedingly ordinary man, an unremarkable member of the human race. Yet in one respect, he was unlike anyone else: He knew to listen to God’s words, he knew how to follow and abide by God’s words, he knew what man’s station was, and he was able to truly believe and obey God’s words—nothing more. These few simple tenets were sufficient to allow Noah to accomplish all that God had entrusted to him, and he persevered in this for not just a few months, nor several years, nor several decades, but for over a century. Isn’t this number astonishing? Who could have done this but Noah? (No one.) And why not? Some people say it is due to not understanding the truth—but that is not in accordance with fact. How many truths did Noah understand? Why was Noah capable of all this? The believers of today have read many of God’s words, they understand some truth—so why is it that they are incapable of this? Others say it is because of people’s corrupt dispositions—but did Noah not have a corrupt disposition? Why was Noah able to achieve this, but the people of today are not? (Because the people of today do not believe God’s words, they neither treat nor abide by them as the truth.) And why are they unable to treat God’s words as the truth? Why are they incapable of abiding by God’s words? (They have no fear of God.) So when people have no understanding of the truth, and have not heard many truths, how does the fear of God occur? In people’s humanity, two of the most precious things of all must be present: The first is conscience, and the second is a sense of normal humanity. The possession of conscience and sense of normal humanity is the minimum standard for being a person; it is the minimum, most basic standard for measuring a person. But this is absent from the people of today, and so no matter how many truths they hear and understand, the fear of God is beyond them. So what is the difference in the essence of people today compared to Noah? (They have no humanity.) And what is the essence of this lack of humanity? (Beasts and demons.) ‘Beasts and demons’ doesn’t sound very nice, but this is in line with the facts; a more polite way to put it would be that they have no humanity. People without humanity and sense are not people, they are beneath even beasts. That Noah was able to complete God’s commission was because when Noah heard God’s words, he was able to commit them to memory; for him, God’s commission was a lifelong undertaking, his faith was unwavering, his will unaltered for a hundred years. It was because he had a heart that feared God, he was a real person, and he had the utmost sense that God entrusted the building of the ark to him. People with as much sense as Noah are very rare, it would be very hard to find another” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Two (Part One)). Pondering God’s words, I felt like God was rebuking me to my very face for not being loyal in my duty. I saw that I performed my duty poorly—not due to low caliber and shallow understanding of truth, and not because I didn’t know how to treat duty—but because I had no humanity, and I didn’t have fear of God in my heart while performing my duty. Noah had heard little of God’s word and understood little truth, but he was earnest and diligent when he handled God’s commission. He remembered every detail and strove to achieve good results. Noah was considerate of God’s will. He persevered for 120 years to testify his loyalty and obedience to God. What about me? I had eaten and drunk much of God’s word, had understood many truths and mysteries, and had gained much more than the faithful of the past, but I still tried to be cunning and slack off in my duty. I knew how to achieve good results and better spread the gospel and testify to God, but I found these things troublesome, so I muddled through and took advantage of my partner by giving her more work. When my brothers and sisters had difficulties, I tried to make things easy for myself and didn’t want to work hard to seek the truth to find solutions. I also just went through the motions when I followed up on the work. My heart was not in my duties at all. As a result, they performed their duties without any sense of urgency or concern. I neglected my work, only considering on how to eat well and seek carnal enjoyment. I even watched secular videos under the pretense of doing my duty. Out of fear of being discovered, I tried to hide things and acted deviously and deceptively. Although my conscience rebuked me, I stubbornly insisted on carrying on anyway. I saw just how poor my conscience and reason were. I couldn’t compare with Noah, nor with any brothers and sisters performing their duties responsibly. Performing my duty like this was trying to fool and deceive God. Being dismissed was God’s righteous disposition coming down on me. I was really over the line.
I reflected on myself at that time: Why have I been so devoid of conscience and reason? I heard a hymn of God’s word “The Truth of the Aftermath of Man’s Corruption by Satan”:
1 For many years, the thoughts that people have relied upon for their survival have been corroding their hearts to the point that they have become treacherous, cowardly, and despicable. Not only do they lack willpower and resolve, but they have also become greedy, arrogant, and willful. They are utterly lacking any resolve that transcends the self, and even more, they don’t have a bit of courage to shake off the strictures of these dark influences.
2 People’s thoughts and lives are so rotten that their perspectives on believing in God are still unbearably hideous, and even when people speak of their perspectives on belief in God it is simply unbearable to hear. People are all cowardly, incompetent, despicable, and fragile. They do not feel disgust for the forces of darkness, and they do not feel love for the light and the truth; instead, they do their utmost to expel them.
from Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
After pondering God’s words, I understood. I often slacked off and muddled through, trying to fool God in my duty because I lived by satanic philosophies, like “Life is short; enjoy it while you can,” “Drink today’s wine today,” and “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short.” All this nonsense corrupted and distorted my mind. I felt it was a wise choice to live a leisurely and comfortable life. Life is so short, so why push myself so hard? Toil is foolishness. People should be kind to themselves, treat themselves well, and enjoy as much as they can. Controlled by this kind of thinking, I became crafty and cut corners in everything. I became more and more cunning and devious. I remember when I was in school, I had a part-time job. The job was easy. When the supervisor was gone, I used to sneak back to the dorm to rest, and thought of ways to work less. My roommate always said I was too lazy. She said that if I got a job in the future, I would definitely try to cut corners. When I heard this, I felt embarrassed. But then I thought, “It’s fine, you can say what you like. Isn’t it stupid for people to work too hard? The saying goes ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ Who doesn’t try to live for themselves? Isn’t it stupid not to think about yourself?” After I believed in God, I still lived by these satanic philosophies, and only thought about how to gain carnal ease and pleasure, so in my duties, I did all I could to cut corners and avoid carnal suffering. I lived by these satanic philosophies, so I always held back in my duty, never gave it my all, and never sincerely paid a price. I always got by on tricks, cunning, and deceit. Even when my leader exposed me and dealt with me, I still didn’t wake up. I saw that I was numb to a certain degree and was completely controlled by these satanic philosophies. I performed my duty without thinking of progress, nor did I actually follow up on work, causing my brothers and sisters to be slack in their duties and not make progress, and for two other sisters to be dismissed along with me. I was truly harming myself and others doing my duty like this. I saw that I was corrupted by Satan and had already lost the bottom line of being a human. I had become someone who was lazy, selfish, cunning, and devious. I felt that I was living in a pitiful, shameful way. I silently prayed to God. I said, “Oh God! I don’t want to live like this anymore. Please save me from the bondage of my satanic disposition.”
Later, through reading God’s words, I found a path of practice. God says, “All that God asks people to do, and all of the various kinds of work in the house of God—these all need people to do them, they all count as people’s duties. No matter what work people do, this is the duty they should perform. Duties cover a very broad scope, and involve many areas—but no matter what duty you perform, put simply this is your obligation, it is something you should be doing. No matter what duty you perform, as long as you strive to do it well, God will praise you, and will acknowledge you as someone who truly believes in God. No matter who you are, if you are always trying to avoid or hide from your duty, then there is a problem: To put it mildly, you are too lazy, too deceitful, you are idle, you love leisure and loathe labor; to put it more seriously, you are unwilling to perform your duty, you have no commitment, no obedience. If you can’t even put the effort into this minor task, what can you do? What are you capable of doing properly? If a person is truly devoted, and has a sense of responsibility toward their duty, then as long as it is required by God, and as long as it is needed by the house of God, they will do anything they are asked, without selection. Is it not one of the principles of performing one’s duty to undertake and complete anything that one is able and ought to do? (Yes.) Some who do manual labor disagree, and say, ‘You spend all day doing your duty in your room, sheltered from the wind and sun. There is no hardship to this at all, it is much cushier than ours. Put yourselves in our shoes, let’s see whether you can stand it after several hours working outside in the wind and rain.’ In fact, every duty involves some hardship. Physical labor involves physical hardship, and mental labor involves mental hardship; each has its difficulties. Everything is easier said than done. When people really do act, in one regard, you must look at their character, and in another regard, you must look at whether they love the truth. Let us first speak of people’s character. If a person is of good character, they see the positive side of everything, and are able to accept and comprehend these things from a positive perspective and on the basis of the truth; that is, their heart, character, and spirit are righteous—this is from the perspective of character. Next let us talk about another aspect—whether or not one loves the truth. Loving the truth refers to being able to accept the truth, which is to say if, regardless of whether or not you comprehend God’s words, and whether or not you understand God’s will, regardless of whether your view, opinion, and perspective about the job, the duty you are supposed to perform, is in line with the truth, you are still able to accept it from God, and are obedient and sincere, then this is enough, this qualifies you to perform your duty, it is the minimum requirement. If you are obedient and sincere, then when you carry out a task, you are not careless and perfunctory, and do not look for ways to slack off, but put all of your body and soul into it. Having the wrong state within produces negativity, which makes people lose their drive, and so they become careless and sloppy. People who, in their hearts, know full well that their state is not right, and yet still do not try to fix this by seeking the truth: such people have no love for the truth, and are only slightly willing to perform their duty; they are disinclined to make any effort or suffer hardship, and are always looking for ways to slack off. In fact, God has already seen all of this—so why does He pay no heed to these people? God is just waiting for His chosen ones to wake up and identify them for what they really are, for them to expose and cast them out. However, such people still think to themselves, ‘Look how clever I am. We eat the same food, but after working you are completely exhausted. I’m not tired at all. I’m the smart one; anyone who does real work is an idiot.’ Is it right for them to view honest people in this way? No. In fact, people who do real work when they perform their duty are practicing the truth and satisfying God, and so they are the smartest people of all. What makes them smart? They say, ‘I don’t do anything that God doesn’t ask me to do, and I do everything He does ask me to. I do whatever He asks, and I put my heart into it, I put everything I can into it, I don’t play tricks at all. I’m not doing this for any person, I’m doing it for God. God loves me so much, I should do this to satisfy God.’ This is the right state of mind, and the result is that when the time comes for the church to be cleansed, those who are slippery in performing their duty shall all be cast out, while those who are honest people and accept God’s scrutiny shall remain. These honest people’s state goes from strength to strength, and they are protected by God in all that befalls them. And what earns them this protection? Because in their heart, they are honest. They don’t fear hardship or exhaustion when they perform their duty, and are not picky about anything they are entrusted with; they do not ask why, they just do as they are told, they obey, without examining or analyzing, or taking anything else into consideration; they have no ulterior motives, but are capable of obedience in all things. Their inner state is always very normal; when faced with danger, God protects them; when illness or pestilence befalls them, God also protects them—they are greatly blessed” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Four)). After I pondered God’s words, I understood. Believers in God should perform duties with an honest heart and in a down-to-earth manner, not think about personal gains and losses, not play tricks, and do as much as they are able. When problems occur, we should solve them promptly and spare no effort in our duties. Only in this way can we be honest people before God and gain God’s protection and blessings. After being dismissed I still made images in my spare time, and I thought of how before I was selfish, despicable, considerate of the flesh, didn’t want to pay a price for my duties, and didn’t produce any good results. I felt very guilty, and I consciously tried to change. I began to learn new techniques, and tried to create in new ways. When I encountered difficulties, I prayed to God, and sought out help from others, making repeated revisions based on their suggestions. Each time I designed a new image, I tried to consider it from every angle to see if there was any other way to break new ground and innovate. This way, after practicing diligently in my duty for a while, I saw God’s grace. I made some breakthroughs in my composition concepts and techniques, and in my brothers’ and sisters’ feedback they said the images I made now were better than those before. I found the drive to perform my duty and managed to inspire my brothers and sisters in theirs. Everyone wanted to innovate, and do better.
I felt secure when I actually worked hard at my duty, when I put my heart into it. I had things to say when I prayed. I also gained some understanding of some matters and made some progress in my profession. When I put all my effort into my duty, I really didn’t feel too tired. Although sometimes it took a little more thought, I was full of contentment and joy. I saw that God’s requirements of people are not exacting, that they can be achieved with a little effort, and I felt so grateful to God. After some time, I was transferred back to my duty. I was very grateful, but I also felt unworthy, so I prayed to God: “God! With humanity like mine, I am truly unworthy of performing a duty, and of this exaltation. I wish to do my best in this duty, and if I still treat my duty as I did before, I ask that You discipline and punish me so that I can truly repent and loyally perform my duty to repay Your love!”
Later, the leader arranged for me and three other brothers and sisters to produce new effects. The production process really required a lot of time and effort, and there was also a high demand for images at that time, so it was actually rather tiring. Especially when many tasks piled up and had to be dealt with, my head felt like it would burst. Once, because I didn’t finish the images in time, a sister asked me why I worked so slowly. At that time, I felt aggrieved, and thought, “Everyone else only concentrates on creating images, unlike me, who has to learn and produce new effects alongside creating images. It takes more time and effort for me. If I made fewer images, what would my brothers and sisters think of me? Maybe I should talk to our leader and say I can’t handle all this new effect, so she should find someone else to do it.” When I thought like this, I knew I was being considerate of the flesh again, so I consciously ate and drank of the relevant parts of God’s word. I read a passage of God’s word that says, “God likes honest people and dislikes treacherous people. Everyone should understand this clearly, and stop being confused and doing foolish things. Momentary ignorance is understandable, but refusing to accept the truth at all is a stubborn refusal to change. Honest people can take responsibility. They do not consider their own gains and losses, but rather safeguard the work and interests of God’s house. They have kind and honest hearts that are like a bowl of clear water that one can see the bottom of at a glance. There is also transparency in their actions. A deceitful person always plays tricks, always disguises things, covers up, and wraps themselves in packaging so tightly that no one can see through them. People can’t see through your inner thoughts, but God can see the deepest things in your heart. If God sees that you are not an honest person, that you are cunning, that you never accept the truth, that you are always trying to deceive Him, and that you do not hand your heart over to Him, then God will not love you, He will hate and abandon you. All who prosper among the unbelievers—people who are silver-tongued and quick-witted—what kind of people are these? Is this clear to you? What is their essence? It can be said that they are all extraordinarily shrewd, they are all extremely crafty and slippery, they are the genuine devil Satan. Could God save someone such as this? God hates nothing more than devils—people who are crafty and sneaky. God absolutely will not save such people, so whatever you do, do not be this kind of person. They who are ever vigilant and consider all the angles in their speech, who see which way the wind blows and are guileful in handling their affairs—I tell you, God loathes such people the most, people like this are beyond redemption. … If, throughout their faith in God, people do not pursue the truth, then it doesn’t matter how many years they have been a believer; in the end, they will gain nothing. If they wish to gain God, they must gain the truth. Only if they understand the truth, practice the truth, and enter the reality of the truth will they gain the truth, and be saved by God; and only then will they gain God’s approval and blessings; and only this is gaining God” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). After reading God’s word, I realized I still held some mistaken views. Before, I admired those who were “shrewd.” I thought they only did things that made them look good, that they took the right shortcuts, and were always able to achieve their goals with the minimum effort. I thought this was smart and clever, and I aspired to become like such a person. Only after reading God’s words did I understand that to God, this was cunning, not cleverness. For their own interests, they can use all kinds of despicable means. Such people are inscrutable and have a devil’s nature. God likes simple and honest people, people with no deceit in their hearts, people without so many devious motives, people who can take up the commissions God entrusts to them, and who do things with all their hearts and in a down-to-earth manner. God scrutinizes our hearts and minds and treats us differently according to our essence. God’s attitude toward the deceitful is one of disgust. He does not enlighten them with understanding of truth, and eventually casts them out, but He enlightens and guides honest people. Then I thought about myself. In my duty, when I had to pay a price and endure much carnal suffering, I wanted to shirk my duty so that I wouldn’t be tired. This was selfish and devious, and an expression of cunning. If I did this, God would loathe me. At this point, I suddenly realized this duty was God’s test of me to see if I had made progress, whether I had a sense of responsibility toward my duty, and whether I could choose correctly between duty and physical comfort. If I avoided my duty to protect my own interests, I would lose my testimony in this test. I thought back on the recent past. Although I was a little tired from my duty, my heart felt enriched. I had more concerns and difficulties in my duty, but I had also been close to God to seek the truth and principles more. Every day I gained something, and it felt very meaningful. Before, I craved comfort, and to not tire my flesh, but I made no progress or gains, I felt no enjoyment, and the Holy Spirit left me. That kind of pain was worse than physical pain. I couldn’t be deceitful anymore. After that, I evaluated the work at hand again, and when there was a real difficulty, I sought help from the sister in charge, expended the effort I could offer, and did what was required of me as best I could. Doing this made me feel more at ease.
It was truly God’s salvation for me that I was able to change a little and I was able to perform my duty in a down-to-earth way and live with some human likeness. Thanks be to God!