37. What’s Behind Not Taking a Stand
Some time ago, I was very inefficient in my duty. Every time I did a video project, I always modified it many times. This seriously affected the overall progress of work. At first, I thought it was because I lacked my own opinions—every time my brothers and sisters suggested some revisions, I didn’t evaluate whether they were needed based on principles, and simply made whatever changes they suggested. Some suggestions were not very reasonable, which resulted in constant rework. Later, after being pruned and dealt with and reflecting on myself according to what God’s word reveals, I realized there were satanic dispositions and despicable intentions behind my lack of assertiveness.
That was several months ago. Then, there were some brothers and sisters who were arrogant and self-righteous, always insisting on their own views and unable to accept the suggestions of others, which seriously affected the progress of work. Our leader fellowshiped to expose them several times, but they still didn’t change and were dismissed. Seeing them dismissed, I secretly warned myself, “When brothers and sisters give me suggestions in the future, I can’t just insist on my own views.” After that, when everyone gave suggestions for revising a video, I almost always adopted them, even though some of them were small issues that didn’t really need to be changed. I actually thought some of those suggestions weren’t in line with principles, and that some were even the most trivial of issues, but I worried, “If I don’t make this revision, what will my supervisor and brothers and sisters think of me? Will they think I am arrogant and unable to take other people’s advice? If I give them a bad impression that I can’t accept the truth, then my dismissal will be imminent. Besides, I’m not entirely sure about my opinions. If I’m wrong and don’t make a needed change, if that problem is found after the video went online, then it will be me who bears the responsibility.” After thinking about it, to be on the safe side, I accepted all the suggestions and made new revisions. Sometimes there were different suggestions for a single issue, so I made multiple versions and asked my supervisor to decide which was best, or while our team was discussing work, I talked it over with my brothers and sisters and we finalized the decision together. I thought, “My supervisor and the majority of brothers and sisters made this decision. This is the majority opinion, so there shouldn’t be any big problems. This is the most secure way. If something goes wrong in the future, it’s not my responsibility alone.” Sometimes, I received a lot of suggestions, and I wasn’t sure how to make revisions, so I sought out the supervisor and had her help me decide which direction to take. Sometimes I heard too much advice, and in the end, I didn’t know what effect should be presented, which led to the duty being performed very inefficiently. In work discussions, my constant requests for my brothers and sisters to help me make decisions took time away from them in their duties and slowed the overall progress of work.
Once, I was making a video background image. It needed to reflect the suffering state of people living in sin, so I made the image with a dark tone with backlighting. Some brothers and sisters thought it was too dark and unattractive, and suggested I brighten the picture a bit and add some light and shadow effects. I was hesitant about these suggestions. Given the theme, having the image too bright didn’t conform to the overall atmosphere of people living in darkness, and adding brightness would violate objective laws, so I didn’t think the suggestion was reasonable. But then I thought, since several people had made this suggestion, if I didn’t do it, and it impacted the effect of the video after it went online, it would be my responsibility. As I was struggling with this, I saw that the leader also agreed with the revision, so I started to compromise. If I put forward my view and disagreed with the revision, would everyone think I was insisting on my own view? Would they think I was making excuses not to change it because it was troublesome? So I decided to just modify it. If there was a problem, it wouldn’t be my responsibility alone, because I made the change based on everyone’s suggestions. I clearly felt this change was inappropriate, but still spent a lot of time modifying the whole image. I was shocked when, once I finished, the supervisor evaluated it based on relevant principles and its real effect after revision, saying it didn’t accord with objective facts, and that I had to change it back. She also said I had been passive in my duties recently, that I had no opinions about others’ suggestions and was hindering the progress of work, and she asked me to reflect on myself. I couldn’t calm myself for a long time, and felt very sad and guilty. I had spent so much time modifying the image, and now I had to change it back, which indeed delayed the progress of work. I realized that during this period, every time I faced different suggestions, I actually had my own opinions, but to prevent people calling me arrogant, I didn’t speak up when I had those opinions. When I faced uncertainty over a problem, I didn’t seek the principles of truth, I just waited for others to make the final decision, always doing things according to other people’s orders. Performing my duty this way really was too passive, and it had delayed the work of the church. I came before God and prayed to ask Him to guide me in reflecting on and knowing myself.
In my seeking and pondering, I read God’s word: “Those who can perform a duty in God’s house must be people whose burden is the work of the church, who take responsibility, who uphold the principles of the truth, who suffer and pay the price. To be lacking in these areas is to be unfit to perform a duty and not to possess the conditions for the performance of duty. There are many people who are afraid of taking on responsibility in performing a duty. Their fear manifests in three main ways. The first is that they choose duties that do not require taking on responsibility. If a church leader arranges for them to perform a duty, they first ask whether they must take on responsibility for it: If so, they do not accept it; if it does not require them to be responsible for it, they accept it reluctantly, but still must see whether the work is tiring or bothersome, and despite their reluctant acceptance of the duty, they are unmotivated to perform it well, preferring still to be careless and perfunctory. Leisure, not labor, and no bodily hardship—this is their principle. The second is that when a difficulty befalls them or they encounter a problem, their first resort is to report it to a leader and have him handle and resolve it, in hope that they may keep their ease. They do not care how the leader handles the issue and pay this no mind—so long as they are not responsible themselves, then all is well to them. Is such performance of duty loyal to God? This is called passing the buck, dereliction of duty, playing tricks. It is all talk, they are not doing anything real. They say to themselves, ‘If this thing is mine to handle, what if I end up making a mistake? Once they look into the matter, won’t I be the one who ends up bearing responsibility? Won’t the responsibility for it fall first to me?’ This is what they worry about. But do you believe that God can look into all things? Everyone makes mistakes. If a person whose intention is correct lacks experience and has not handled some sort of matter before, but they have done their best, that is visible to God. You must believe that God scrutinizes all things and the heart of man. If one does not even believe this, are they not a nonbeliever? What significance could there be in such a person performing a duty? There is one more way in which a person’s fear of taking on responsibility manifests. When they perform their duty, some people do just a bit of superficial, simple work, work that does not entail taking on responsibility. Work that entails difficulties and taking on responsibility, they dump onto others, and should something go wrong, they shift the blame onto those people and keep their own noses clean. When church leaders see that they are irresponsible, they patiently offer help or prune and deal with them so that they may be able to take responsibility, but they still don’t want to do so, and they think, ‘This duty is hard to do well, I have to take responsibility when things go wrong, and I may even be cleared out and cast out, and that will be the end for me.’ What kind of attitude is this? If you have no sense of responsibility in performing your duty, how can you perform your duty well? Those who don’t genuinely expend for God can’t perform any duty well, and those who fear taking responsibility will only delay things when they perform their duties. Such people are not trustworthy or dependable; they only perform their duty to get food in their mouths. Should ‘beggars’ like this be cast out? They should. The house of God would never want such people” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). God’s word revealed my state. I thought back on my performance of my duties during this period. When I had received so many suggestions, I had realized that some of them weren’t appropriate. Some revisions were against principles, and some were unnecessary. But I feared that if I did not listen to everyone’s advice and something went wrong, I would have to bear the blame alone. I also feared that sticking to my point of view would give people the bad impression that I was arrogant and self-righteous, so I catered to everyone’s opinions, made whatever changes others suggested, and I even revised things repeatedly and made multiple versions, waiting for the supervisor and my brothers and sisters to decide. I never sought the principles of truth or made my own decisions for fear of taking the blame. I thought doing things this way was safer, because once things were a group decision, problems were less likely, and even if there was a problem, I wouldn’t be alone. Outwardly, I was always busy with my duties, but actually, I was considering my own interests in everything and considering how to protect myself and avoid responsibility. Wasn’t I just playing tricks like this? Doing my duty this way was only offering up my labor and doing what I was told. I was never diligent, nor did I take responsibility in my duty. I didn’t consider the work of the church at all and truly lacked all humanity. Those who sincerely perform their duties consider the interests of the church in all things, and when faced with matters they can’t understand, they seek God’s will, seek the principles of truth, and are of one heart with God in their duties. But me? I was absolutely insincere and mindless in my duty. I was like hired help, just waiting to be ordered to do something. I never sought to resolve problems with the truth. Performing my duty like this, I had nothing to do with God or the truth. I was only superficially going through the motions, not even on par with a service-doer.
I recalled another passage of God’s word, “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not they, in their thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then without doubt, you are an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations to God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What does ‘for your own sake’ mean? To be exact, it means for Satan’s sake. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. It will not only fail to gain God’s approval—it will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). From God’s words I understood that He observes everyone’s hearts. He doesn’t look at how much work we do or how much suffering we endure. He instead looks at whether people’s intentions in their duties are for God or for themselves and whether they have testimony of practicing the truth in their duties. If duties are performed only to satisfy oneself, this is wickedness in God’s eyes, and God detests it. Through God’s word, I saw that my thoughts as I performed my duty were for myself. To avoid taking responsibility, I would fix things that didn’t matter, no matter how much time it took, even making repeated revisions without care for delays in the progress of work. I went against my own will to make revisions on the basis of suggestions I clearly knew were inappropriate, and, as a result, the quality of the videos declined. I delayed the work, but I never felt concerned or a sense of urgency, nor did I try to increase efficiency by seeking the principles of truth. All I was doing in my duty was following procedures and going through the motions, and I thought as long as I finished the revision and everyone approved, it was fine. My irresponsible behavior wasn’t performing my duty at all, and it was not accruing good deeds. It was wickedness. To protect my own interests, I repeatedly hindered the work of the church. I was only acting as Satan’s servant and disrupting the church’s work! Thinking on this, I felt terrified. I quickly prayed to God, asking for His guidance in changing my attitude toward my duty.
After that, when I encountered all kinds of suggestions in my duty, I first came before God to pray and seek, analyzed which suggested changes were necessary and which weren’t, and considered how to improve my efficiency to create better results. For suggested changes that weren’t necessary, I presented my opinions on the basis of principles I understood, sought and fellowshiped with everyone, and reached a consensus. Practicing like this made me a bit more efficient in my duty. I thought I had some change and entry in this aspect, but faced with things that might entail taking on responsibility, I fell back into my old ways.
Once, I made a video vignette, and everyone had different opinions on some details about the image. After we discussed and communicated, we still hadn’t decided how to modify it, and we were stuck for quite a long time. Actually, I knew that for a vignette, as long as it looks good and the content of the image doesn’t violate objective reality, there is no need to get stuck on details. But after hearing so many different suggestions, I didn’t know what to do, “If I change things based on my own ideas, what will happen if there is a problem after the video is uploaded? Then it will be my responsibility.” I was afraid to be responsible for making a mistake, so I again made multiple versions based on everyone’s suggestions and waited for everyone to give me a final decision. In the end, however, no one gave me a clear answer. As I watched the days pass, I became very anxious. Wasn’t I delaying the progress of the video again? I asked myself, “Why is it so difficult to make a decision? Why does it feel like my hands are bound and I can’t untie them?” So, I came before God to pray and seek, and asked God to guide me in reflecting and knowing myself.
Later, I read God’s word. “You must be an honest person, you must have a sense of responsibility when you face problems, and you must find ways to seek the truth to resolve problems. Do not be a treacherous person. If you shirk responsibility and wash your hands of it when problems arise, even unbelievers will condemn you. Do you imagine God’s house will not? God’s chosen people despise and reject such behavior. God loves honest people, but hates deceitful and cunning people. If you act as a treacherous person and attempt to play tricks, will God not hate you? Will God’s house simply let you off the hook? Sooner or later, you will be held accountable. 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. When people are crafty and sneaky, no matter how nice what they say sounds, it is still deceitful lies. The nicer their words, the more they are the devil Satan. These are exactly the kind of people that God despises most. What do you say: People who are crafty, good at lying, smooth-tongued—could they receive the work of the Holy Spirit? Could they receive the illumination and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit? Absolutely not. What is God’s attitude toward people who are crafty and sneaky? He spurns them, He sidelines them and pays them no heed, He regards them as of the same class as animals. In God’s eyes, such people are merely wearing human skin; in essence, they are of the same kind as the devil Satan, they are walking corpses, and God would never save them” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s word revealed my state. I was always indecisive when confronted with different suggestions, afraid to take responsibility for mistakes, and always tried to protect myself, because I was controlled by satanic poisons like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” and “The law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender.” When faced with others’ suggestions, I had my own opinions, but I didn’t put them forward and seek in time. Sometimes when I found the suggestions of others were inappropriate, I still stubbornly insisted on acting upon them in order to protect myself. In this way, if there were problems, they wouldn’t be my responsibility and I wouldn’t be dealt with. Outwardly, I appeared receptive to other people’s advice, and that I could take and implement suggestions, which presented the illusion that I wasn’t arrogant and could accept the truth. Actually, behind this were my own despicable intentions. I thought back on how I had behaved, and how each time I might be responsible for something, I looked out for myself. Sometimes, when others had problems and asked for my advice, I would first analyze their thoughts and opinions, and if these agreed with mine, I used them as a basis and added my own advice, but if their opinions were different, I didn’t want to share my own, because I feared if I was wrong and problems arose, I would have to take responsibility, so I just said something vague and perfunctory. Living by these satanic life philosophies, I had become especially cunning and deceitful, I could never clearly put forward my own points of view, I had no principles or position, and I spoke and acted in ways that confused people and made my own views inscrutable. I even thought it was smart to do this so I wouldn’t have to bear any consequences, I wouldn’t be pruned and dealt with or dismissed. I had no idea that I was playing tricks and scheming on God and on my brothers and sisters, that I was making God loathe and detest me. God doesn’t save people like this. I might have been able to deceive my brothers and sisters, but God observed my heart. If I continued to deceive God like this, be irresponsible in my duty, just going through the motions, and not focusing on seeking principles of truth, in the end I would never gain any truth, and I would still be eliminated. I saw that I was too smart for my own good. I was truly so ignorant! Only once I realized this did I start to feel afraid. I really wanted to repent to God. I couldn’t go on like this.
I read another two passages of God’s word, “In the house of God, you must grasp the principle of every duty you perform, no matter what it is, and be able to practice the truth. That is what it is to be principled. If something is not clear to you, if you are not sure what the appropriate thing to do is, use fellowship to achieve consensus. Once it has been determined what is most beneficial to the church’s work and to the brothers and sisters, do that. Do not be bound by rules, don’t delay, do not wait, do not be a passive observer. If you are always an observer and never have an opinion of your own, if you always wait until someone else has made a decision before doing anything and, when no one has made a decision, just drag your heels and wait, what will the consequence be? Every part of the work gets mired down, and nothing gets completed. You should learn to seek the truth, or at least be able to act by your conscience and reason. So long as the appropriate way to do something is clear to you, and a majority of the others think that way is workable, then that is how you should practice. Do not be afraid of taking on responsibility for the thing, or of offending others, or of incurring consequences. If someone does not do anything real, and is always calculating, and afraid of taking responsibility, and does not do practical work, then it shows that person has too many fiendish schemes. How iniquitous it is to wish to enjoy God’s grace and blessings and yet do nothing real. There is no one God despises more than such crafty and conniving people. Regardless of what you are thinking, you are not practicing the truth, you have no loyalty, and your own personal considerations are always involved, and you always have your own thoughts and ideas. God watches these things, God knows—did you think God does not know? It is foolish to think this. And if you do not immediately repent, you will lose God’s work” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). “What are the expressions of an honest person? First is to have no doubts about God’s words. This is one of the expressions of an honest person. The most important expression of an honest person, furthermore, is to seek and practice the truth in all matters; this is most critical of all. If you say you are honest, but you always put God’s words to the back of your mind and do whatever you want, then is this an expression of an honest person? You say, ‘My caliber is low, but I am honest at heart.’ When a duty falls to you, however, you are afraid of suffering or that if you do not fulfill it well, you will have to bear the responsibility, so you make excuses to shirk it and recommend others to do it. Is this an expression of an honest person? It clearly is not. How, then, should an honest person behave? They should accept and obey, and then be utterly devoted in doing their duties to the best of their ability, striving to meet God’s will. This is expressed in several ways. One way is that you should accept your duty with honesty, not think about your fleshly interests, and not be half-hearted about it. Do not plot for your own benefit. This is an expression of honesty. Another way is performing your duty with all your heart and all your strength, doing things properly, putting your heart and your love into performing your duty in order to satisfy God. This is what should be expressed when honest people perform their duty” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s word, I saw that God loves honest people. It doesn’t matter even if we are ignorant and have low caliber. The key is to have a correct and honest heart, not to disguise ourselves, speak openly about what we think, seek and fellowship with others about what we don’t understand, act in accordance with principles and to the benefit of the work of the church, and be loyal in our duties. Do this, and God is satisfied. God observes people’s hearts. If we try our best, even if we sometimes make mistakes due to low caliber or not understanding the truth, there are still lessons to be learned. As long as we can accept the truth, seek the truth, and sum up problems in time, we will deviate less and less as time goes on, and gradually master the principles and perform our duties well. The church does not condemn people and hold them accountable for one single fault. Once I understood this, I felt much more relieved.
Later, I opened up and fellowshiped with a sister about my state during this period, and she helped me very patiently. Through fellowshiping and seeking the truth together, I changed the mistaken view I had always held. Previously, I always worried that if I didn’t take others’ advice and offered differing views and opinions, they would think I was arrogant and didn’t accept the truth. Actually, that was because I couldn’t differentiate between arrogance and upholding principles. Upholding principles means, through seeking the truth, determining practices that accord with principles and protect the interests of the church, and continuing to uphold them and not compromise when others object or raise issues. Although outwardly it looks somewhat similar to arrogance, this is upholding the truth and is a positive thing. Arrogance is always feeling superior to others, believing one’s own opinions and ideas to be correct; when others put forward different points of view, there is an obstinance on one’s own way without seeking or contemplation; one simply goes one’s own way, and insists that what is wrong is right. All of these opinions come from their own judgment, and have no basis in principle. Yet still, they demand others listen to them and do as they say. This is a satanic disposition, a manifestation of arrogance. I recalled brothers and sisters who were dismissed before. Some of them insisted on their own viewpoints, didn’t take the suggestions of their brothers and sisters seriously, seek or contemplate, always argued their own case, and were unwilling to revise and improve. What they insisted on was never in line with principles, it was just their personal thoughts and preferences. This is the manifestation of arrogance. If one can evaluate and determine, according to principles, that the suggestions of others are inappropriate, and raise one’s own views, this is not arrogance, it is taking things seriously, and conscientiously assuming responsibility for the work. When one doesn’t fully understand a problem, to express their viewpoint in seeking and fellowship with others is not arrogantly insisting on their way, but is seeking principles before action. Once I understood this aspect of truth, I felt a great sense of relief.
Later, when I received many suggestions in my duty, I prayed to God for calm and sought the relevant principles of truth, and evaluated whether the revisions were necessary based on principles. I also took the initiative to communicate and discuss my own ideas with everyone. Once, when I finished a video background image, my leader said that the color wasn’t suitable and recommended that I change it. I thought, “If I change it based on this suggestion, it will be a serious revision, and it will definitely delay the upload of the video. This isn’t really a matter of principle, it’s just a personal preference, so there’s no need to change it. But if I don’t, will my leader feel I am arrogant, self-righteous, and unable to accept other people’s suggestions?” When I started to hesitate again, I prayed to ask God to guide me in practicing according to principles. After I prayed, I found some reference materials, and then worked with my leader and supervisor to seek the relevant principles together. I also exchanged my own understanding and views. The leader and supervisor agreed with my point of view, and the video soon went online. I felt especially happy and secure.
Thinking back on my experience during this time, I realized that for the sake of protecting myself and avoiding responsibility, I tied my own hands in my duty with all kinds of worries. Living that way was tiring, and I wasn’t very effective. But when I understood God’s will and practiced according to the principles of truth, problems were easy to solve, and my duty felt much easier and more relaxed. I had truly experienced that in living by satanic life philosophies, I could only ever be more cunning and deceitful, unworthy of people’s trust, and displeasing to God. Only by practicing the truth and fulfilling one’s duty by the principles of truth can one have God’s blessing. Only in this way can they feel steadfast and open-hearted, and find joy and peace in their heart.