31. The Shamelessness of Showing Off
By Xinping, China
One year ago, I transferred to another church. To begin with, I didn’t really fit in, because I had been a leader at my original church, and my brothers and sisters thought very highly of me. Whenever they had problems, they came to me to resolve them. But at this church, the brothers and sisters weren’t familiar with me. I felt like a nobody, which was very disappointing. I thought: “My results in preaching the gospel used to be quite good, so this time, if I can use my ability in preaching the gospel to show everyone that I have caliber and perform my duties more effectively than others, then I’ll be able to stand out.” I preached the gospel very actively during that time, and before long I converted more than a dozen people. I was overjoyed. When I saw my brothers and sisters, I couldn’t help showing off my experience in preaching the gospel. They said enviously, “It’s so easy for you to preach the gospel, but we can’t. When we meet the potential gospel recipients who have notions and who won’t listen, we don’t know how to fellowship with them.” The truth is that I also often encountered this situation. There were times when my preaching was unsuccessful, but I rarely talked about these problems and failures, or didn’t mention them at all, because I was afraid that if everyone knew, they wouldn’t see me as capable or think highly of me. I thought, “I have to talk about my successful experiences of preaching the gospel so that you can see how well I perform my duties.” So I said, “Preaching the gospel isn’t hard. When I meet potential gospel recipients, here’s how I fellowship with them….” My brothers and sisters admired me very much when they heard that. After that, when anyone had friends or relatives who wanted to investigate God’s work in the last days, others would say, “Have Xinping go preach to them. You want Sister Xinping.” I was very happy when I saw that this was everyone’s attitude. Soon, a leader arranged for me to take charge of the watering work of several churches. This made me even more proud, and I thought I had an even bigger stage to show my talents. When my brothers and sisters had difficulties sharing the gospel or watering newcomers and pulled back, or became unwilling to suffer and pay a price, I encouraged them and talked about how I suffered in preaching the gospel. I said: “When I preached the gospel before, sometimes it was over ten degrees below zero in winter, and the wind cut my face like a knife, but all the same I went on preaching. In heavy rain, when water ran deep under the bridges and my shoes were wet, I squeezed the water out of my insoles, carried them in my pocket, and continued on my way to preaching. Once, in temperatures more than ten degrees below zero, I sought out a newcomer to have a gathering with her, and I waited outside for more than an hour before she came….” When my brothers and sisters heard this, they looked at me with approval and admired me for being able to suffer, and I was quite happy about that.
Later, I was given responsibility for more churches. I thought, “In just a few short months I’ve been promoted again. Won’t my brothers and sisters think even more highly of me?” During that period, I often prayed to God and strived to equip myself with aspects of the truth regarding watering newcomers. Gradually, I found a path forward in my duties. My brothers and sisters all felt listening to my fellowship was helpful for them. Without me realizing it, my ego started to swell again and I started to show off again at gatherings. When my brothers and sisters asked me how to fellowship on and resolve the religious notions brought up by newcomers, I thought, “I’ll talk to them properly about this so that everyone can see that I understand the truth and that I can solve problems.” Then I told them my thoughts and experience in detail, and gradually, everyone looked at me differently. They listened attentively to whatever I said. The brothers and sisters looked up to me wherever I went, and even brothers and sisters who I didn’t know also asked to hear my fellowship. Later, I took the common problems encountered in spreading the gospel and watering work, wrote out seventeen rules, and took them to gatherings and fellowshiped on them with the brothers and sisters. There was a sister whose husband was a village cadre and opposed her belief in God. He raised a lot of sharp questions and deliberately made things difficult for us, and he asked for my fellowship by name. I was very uneasy then, but by praying to God, I refuted each of his questions, and in the end, he had nothing to say. Afterward, I took the questions this sister’s husband raised and included them in my frequently asked questions about spreading the gospel. Each time at gatherings, I brought it out and talked about it vividly, to let my brothers and sisters know I was capable and wise and that I could solve problems. Several times after gatherings, some brothers and sisters said, “Sister Xinping, can you stay one more day with us and give us more fellowship?” Seeing how everyone admired me, I was so overjoyed. To let my brothers and sisters know I was someone important and could suffer and pay a price in my duties, I even said, feigning to be casual, “I’m in charge of many churches, and I already have an appointment at another church. A lot of brothers and sisters are waiting for me. I’m so busy that I have no time to rest.” When I spoke with my brothers and sisters, I would also deliberately say, “Each time I go to a gathering, it takes the whole day. I had a fracture in my waist before, and I really can’t take sitting like this.” A sister heard that and said with admiration, “You are really working hard, so you have to pay attention to your health!” Because I often showed off among the brothers and sisters like this, they felt I was quite able to suffer and that I bore a burden in the performance of my duties.
During that period, I busied myself with gatherings and fellowship, but sometimes my heart was empty, and I didn’t know what to fellowship on. But when I saw the expectation in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, I thought, “The brothers and sisters now feel that I fellowship on the truth clearly, and everyone looks up to me. If I tell them I don’t know how to fellowship, won’t the good image I set up in their hearts disappear?” So I pretended to be calm and asked them to fellowship first. I thought, “First, I’ll listen to what everyone talks about, then I’ll summarize what they said and share my own understanding. That will make it look like I’ve received the truth more comprehensively and lucidly.” In this way, the brothers and sisters did feel that it was I who gave the thorough fellowship. I also deliberately said, “Because I have this duty, God has enlightened me differently.” I said this in order to exalt myself and to show off. When I said this, the brothers and sisters looked up to me even more and became more dependent on me. During that time, no matter what problems they encountered in preaching the gospel or watering newcomers, the brothers and sisters didn’t pray or seek anymore, but instead hoped that I could fellowship with them and solve their problems. At that time, I also thought how woe comes to those who admire, as well as to those who receive admiration, and I felt a little uneasy, but then I thought, “My fellowship is all about my understanding of God’s word and pointing out some paths of practice for my brothers and sisters. All of it is so that our work can achieve results. There’s nothing wrong with that.” So those worries and anxiety merely flashed through my mind, and I didn’t dwell on them. But just when I was filled with passion and enthusiasm to perform my duty, my psoriasis, which hadn’t acted up for several years, suddenly relapsed. There were large patches of it on my legs, arms, and even on my face. It was very itchy, and it made me so uncomfortable that my gatherings were impacted. It was even worse this time than before. I used various medicines, but nothing helped. I realized my condition wasn’t an accident, and that there must be lessons to be learned from it. But at the time, I didn’t realize what my problem was.
Later, I went to see a few brothers and sisters who preached the gospel, to fellowship and resolve their problems. I thought, “I’ll have to do well with them to show them my ability to work.” I was like a company executive presenting a report at a meeting. I fellowshiped with them about how to grasp key points of fellowship when preaching the gospel, and how to solve common problems in preaching the gospel. The brothers and sisters listened attentively. Some even constantly wrote down notes for fear of missing something I said, and the sister who hosted us also sat by the door, listened carefully, and gave me water from time to time. I really enjoyed seeing how much importance they attached to my fellowship. But at the same time, I was a little uneasy, “All of this is only my personal understanding, and mistakes are inevitable, so is it appropriate that everyone writes down what I say?” But then I thought, “Brothers and sisters might just want to record some good paths of practice, which helps in the fulfillment of their duties. There can’t be anything wrong with that.” Once I thought of it that way, I decided to let people take notes. At the gathering the next day, one sister came back and said, “I didn’t write down Sister Xinping’s fellowship yesterday, so I’ll listen to it again today.” Once the gathering had finished, I heard two sisters speaking to each other. One said, “Did you record it?” The other sister complained, “Why didn’t you record it?” When I heard this, I felt afraid: “If everyone considers my words to be so important, aren’t I bringing people before myself?” The more I thought, the more scared I felt, so I went home and prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten me so that I could know myself.
I read two passages of God’s word: “Exalting and testifying to themselves, flaunting themselves, trying to make people think highly of them—corrupt mankind is capable of these things. This is how people instinctively react when they are governed by their satanic natures, and it is common to all of corrupt mankind. How do people usually exalt and testify to themselves? How do they achieve this aim? They testify to how much work they have done, how much they have suffered, how much they have expended themselves, and what price they have paid. They use these things as the capital by which they exalt themselves, which gives them a higher, firmer, more secure place in people’s minds, so that more people esteem, admire, respect, and even venerate, idolize, and follow them. To achieve this aim, people do many things that testify to God on the surface, but essentially exalt and testify to themselves. Is acting that way reasonable? They are beyond the purview of rationality. These people have no shame: They unabashedly testify to what they have done for God and how much they have suffered for Him. They even flaunt their gifts, talents, experience, special skills, their clever techniques for conducting themselves, the means they use to toy with people, and so on. Their method of exalting and testifying to themselves is to flaunt themselves and belittle others. They also dissemble and camouflage themselves, hiding their weaknesses, shortcomings, and deficiencies from people so that they only ever see their brilliance. They do not even dare to tell other people when they feel negative; they lack the courage to open up and fellowship with them, and when they do something wrong, they do their utmost to conceal it and cover it up. Never do they mention the harm they have caused to the work of the church in the course of doing their duty. When they have made some minor contribution or achieved some small success, however, they are quick to show it off. They cannot wait to let the whole world know how capable they are, how high their caliber is, how exceptional they are, and how much better they are than normal people. Is this not a way of exalting and testifying to themselves?” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four). “All of those who walk the path of antichrists exalt themselves and bear testimony to themselves. They go around boasting about themselves and self-aggrandizing, and they have not taken God to heart at all. Do you have any experience of what I am talking about? Many people are constantly bearing testimony to themselves: ‘I’ve suffered in this way and that; I’ve done this work and that; God thinks especially highly of me; He asked me to do such and such; now I’m like this and that.’ They deliberately speak in a certain tone and adopt certain postures. Ultimately, some people end up thinking that these people are God. Once they have gotten to that point, the Holy Spirit will long since have abandoned them. Although, for the meantime, they are not cleared out or expelled, and they are kept around to render service, their fate is set, and all they can do is to await their punishment” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Make Too Many Demands of God). God’s word precisely revealed my state. I often exalted myself and showed off like this. When I first started at this church, I felt like I was unknown and insignificant, so I thought of preaching the gospel as a chance for the brothers and sisters to look up to me and praise me. To show everyone my ability to work and make them look at me with new eyes, I didn’t talk about my own experiences of failure. Instead, I talked a lot about how I preached the gospel, how many people I converted, and how I solved difficult problems, to give people an illusion and make them think I understood the truth and could solve their problems. As I was promoted, I wanted more people to think highly of me and have a place for me in their hearts, so I always told my brothers and sisters how busy I was and what suffering I endured. But I kept my lips sealed on my own weakness and corruption, to make people think I really pursued the truth, paid a price and bore burdens in my duties. Wasn’t this deceiving my brothers and sisters? The great red dragon constantly preaches its “great, glorious, and correct” image to make others admire and follow it, but in every way, it covers up the evil things it does in secret as a means to deceive the world’s people. What was the difference between what I was doing and the great red dragon? God gave me gifts and talents for spreading the gospel, so that I could do my part to expand the gospel’s reach and bring more people before God so they could gain His salvation. But I used these gifts and talents as capital to show off and display myself everywhere and enjoyed the respect and worship of my brothers and sisters for me. I was so shameless! Because I constantly exalted myself and showed off, they all admired me and didn’t pray to God and seek the truth when they had problems, but instead sought to fellowship with me and surrounded me. I was resisting God! When I thought about this, I was very afraid. I knelt before God and cried as I prayed, “God, I exalted myself and showed off to make others worship me. I walked the path of resisting You. I wish to repent.”
After that, I reflected on myself. Why, when I clearly knew that the light in my fellowship was the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, did I still involuntarily show off and display myself? I read in God’s word, “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). “Once people have grown arrogant in nature and essence, they can often disobey and resist God, not heed His words, generate notions about Him, do things that betray Him, and things that exalt and bear testimony to themselves. You say you are not arrogant, but suppose you were given a church and allowed to lead it; suppose that I did not deal with you, and that no one in God’s family criticized or helped you: After leading it a while, you would bring people to your feet and make them submit before you, even to the point of admiring and revering you. And why would you do that? This would be determined by your nature; it would be none other than a natural revelation. You do not have any need to learn this from others, nor is there any need for them to teach it to you. You do not need others to instruct you or compel you to do this; this kind of situation comes about naturally. Everything you do is about making people exalt you, praise you, worship you, submit to you, and listen to you in all things. Allowing you to be leader naturally brings about this situation, and it cannot be changed. And how does this situation come about? It is determined by man’s arrogant nature. The manifestation of arrogance is rebellion and resistance against God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also bring others into their own hands and draw them into their embraces. For people to be capable of doing such arrogant things, it just proves that the essence of their arrogant nature is that of Satan; it is that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reach a certain level, they no longer have a place for God in their hearts, and God is put aside. They then wish to be God, make people obey them, and they become the archangel. If you possess such a satanic arrogant nature, God will have no place in your heart. Even if you believe in God, God will no longer recognize you, will view you as an evildoer, and will cast you out” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. An Arrogant Nature Is at the Root of Man’s Resistance to God). I saw from God’s words that my nature was very arrogant and conceited. Just like Paul, I enjoyed being worshiped and admired. At first, I just wanted to perform my duty well, but I was controlled by my arrogant and conceited nature, so I involuntarily showed off and put myself on display. Although I knew my words contained my personal intentions and purposes, I could never control my own ambitions and desires. I always wanted to be admired and praised. As a child, I was spoiled with attention by my family, and when I grew up, I went into business and became a well-known female entrepreneur in our local area. At home and at work, I always had the final say. Wherever I went, I heard the praise and appreciation of others, and I enjoyed the feeling of being the brightest star in the sky and commanding the respect of everyone. After believing in God, I was never satisfied with being ordinary and unknown in the church. I always looked for opportunities to make others admire and look up to me. Paul’s nature was especially arrogant, and he always wanted others to worship and think highly of him, so he showed off how much work he did and how much suffering he endured everywhere he went. He never testified to Christ in his letters. Instead, he exalted himself under the banner of supporting the church, and later, he shamelessly testified that he lived as Christ. This led to the believers worshiping him, exalting him, using him as a benchmark, and even regarding his words as God’s words—even to the point that today, 2,000 years later, many religious believers cling to Paul’s words and therefore refuse to accept God’s work of the last days. Paul brought people before him, which offended God’s disposition, and he was punished by God. I was also arrogant and conceited, and lived by satanic ideas and perspectives like “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards” and “Stand out above the rest.” I always wanted to be above others, show off, and put my talent on display. This caused my brothers and sisters to listen only to me when things happened, accept whatever I said, think of ways to make up when they didn’t take full notes of my fellowship, and even record me; they viewed my words as more important than God’s. Even then, I didn’t know to reflect on myself. Instead, I immersed myself in the pleasure of being admired. I was so arrogant and so shameless! I had no knowledge of my own identity. I didn’t understand that I was a created being, a human who was corrupted by Satan. I shamelessly put myself on a high pedestal. I wanted others to have a place for me in their hearts, to listen to me, and to support me. And because I kept showing off, my brothers and sisters did have a place for me in their hearts. The more they admired me, the farther from God they moved. I thought of the first administrative decree of the Age of Kingdom, “Man should not magnify himself, nor exalt himself. He should worship and exalt God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom). People were created by God, so we should worship God and regard Him as above all, but I made people admire me, and regard me as above all. Wasn’t I violating this administrative decree? At that moment, I felt very afraid. I realized the serious nature of showing off to make others worship and think highly of me. If I continued like this, I would definitely go to hell and be punished, like Paul! Suffering this sickness today was discipline from God. He was warning me through the sickness that I had gone astray. This was God’s salvation for me!
Later, I recalled a passage of God’s word, “Although God says He is the Creator and that man is His creation, which may sound like there is a slight difference in rank, the reality is that everything God has done for mankind far exceeds a relationship of this nature. God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly providing for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about or tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I). God is the Creator, and to save people from the bondage of Satan, God became incarnate to work among people, and endured people’s condemnation and slander. God sacrificed everything for humankind, yet He never showed off. Even as He interacted with people, He never flaunted His identity as God. He just quietly supplied us with truth and life. I saw that God’s essence is beautiful and good, and that He is humble and hidden, without any arrogance or pride. Meanwhile, I was a person corrupted by Satan who was devoid of any truth. Yet I was incredibly arrogant. When I achieved the slightest thing in my duty I showed it off, flaunted it everywhere I went, so that I could win people’s admiration and appreciation. I was too shameless, and too disgusting and vile in God’s eyes. I went before God and prayed to Him, “God, I no longer wish to show off. I wish to repent. I ask that You guide me and show me a path to resolve my corrupt disposition.”
I read two passages of God’s word: “What way of acting is not exalting and testifying to oneself? In the same matter, if you want to show off and testify to yourself, what you say will make some people think highly of you and venerate you. But if you are open and candid with your self-knowledge, the nature of what you say is different. Is this not true? Anyone with normal humanity should have the ability to be open and candid with their self-knowledge. This is something positive. If you really know yourself and speak about your state accurately, genuinely, and precisely; if you speak with an understanding that completely conforms to God’s words; if those who listen to you are edified and benefit; and if you testify to God’s work and glorify Him, that is testifying to God. If you speak openly and candidly, citing your many attributes and talking a lot about how you have suffered, paid the price, and stood firm in your witness, with the result that people have a high opinion of you and venerate you, then this is testifying to yourself. Here, one needs the ability to tell the difference between the two kinds of testimony. For example, explaining how weak and negative you were when facing trials, but how, after praying and seeking the truth, you finally understood God’s will and were able to stand firm in your witness, is to exalt and testify to God. Such practice is absolutely not flaunting yourself and testifying to yourself. Therefore, whether or not you are flaunting yourself and testifying to yourself chiefly depends on whether you have truly experienced what you say, and whether the effect of testimony to God can be achieved; so, too, is it necessary to look at what your intentions and aims are when you speak of your experiences and testimony. All these things make it easy to tell the difference. If you have the right intention when you testify, even if people have a high opinion of you and venerate you, it is not really a problem. If you have the wrong intention, even if no one has a high opinion of you or venerates you, that is a problem—and if people have a high opinion of you and venerate you, that is even more of a problem. Therefore, one cannot depend solely on the results to determine whether a person is exalting and testifying to themselves. Intention is the most important thing, and the right way to make the distinction is based on intent. If you make that distinction based on the results, it is easy to treat good people unjustly. Some people are especially genuine when testifying, and some others have a high opinion of them and venerate them. Can you say those people who testified were testifying to themselves? No, you cannot. Those people who testified are not a problem. The testimony they bear and the duty they perform benefit other people, and only the ignorant who have a skewed understanding venerate people. The key to distinguishing whether people are exalting and testifying to themselves or not is the intention of the speaker. If your intention is to show everyone how your corruption was evidenced, how you have changed, and is to allow others to benefit from this, then your words are earnest and true, and in line with the facts. Such intentions are right, and you are not flaunting yourself or testifying to yourself. If your intention is to show everyone that you have real experiences, and that you have changed and possessed the reality of the truth, and thus earn their admiration and veneration, then these intentions are false. That is flaunting yourself and testifying to yourself. If the experiences and testimony you speak of are false, if they are emended, and designed to mislead people, to stop them from seeing the true state of you, to prevent your intentions, corruption, weakness, or negativity from being revealed to others, then such words are deceitful and duplicitous; this is false testimony, this is deceiving God, it brings shame upon God, and it is what God despises most of all. There are clear differences between these states, which are differentiated based on intention” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Four). “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured, how many things you did to resist God, and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience, and speak more from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition). I understood from God’s words that if I wanted to stop exalting and testifying to myself, I would need to live frequently in God’s presence, possess a pious heart that fears God, open up my heart in front of my brothers and sisters, consciously disclose and dissect my own corruption, and talk about my real experiences. When I wanted to exalt and testify to myself, I would have to forsake myself and set my intentions right. I would have to expose and dissect my corruption and rebellion more often, and fellowship on my knowledge of God after experiencing His judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement, and on what knowledge I had of my own corrupt disposition and corrupt essence. I should speak more from the heart so that my brothers and sisters could see my genuine side. Once I had a path of practice, at gatherings with my brothers and sisters I laid bare the entirety of my exposed corruption and my understanding of myself during this period, and told them that the little bit of light in my fellowship came entirely from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not from my real stature. Without God’s guidance, I couldn’t do anything. The brothers and sisters also realized that it was wrong for them to worship and look up to me, and said they wouldn’t look up to people anymore in the future. They said they would pray to God and seek the principles of truth when they had problems, to get the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Later, when I was at meetings and ran into problems I didn’t understand, I could let go of my ego and openly seek in fellowship with my brothers and sisters. Everyone fellowshiped on what they had received and understood, some of which I had not yet received, which was very helpful for me. My brothers and sisters no longer worshiped me as they had previously, and when they discovered problems with me, they were able to point them out directly. When I had the desire of exalting myself and showing off again, I prayed to God, accepted God’s inspection, and at the same time I opened up to my brothers and sisters, let them know my corruption and my shortcomings, and accepted their supervision. I felt secure and at ease when I practiced this way, and I also tasted the sweetness of practicing the truth. Once I realized my arrogant nature and the wrong path I had taken, and once I had repented to God, my psoriasis gradually disappeared, and bit by bit, I recovered.
After experiencing God’s discipline and chastening, I saw that God’s righteous disposition is so vivid and real, and I saw God’s real love. Everything God does is to save me from the bond of my corrupt satanic disposition. It was God’s discipline and chastening that stopped my evil actions in their tracks and pulled me back from the brink of danger. Thank God!