54. Selfishness Is Vile
By Yang Shuo, China
At the beginning of 2021, Sister Zhang Yichen and I were supporting a newly established church together. Yichen was new to the faith and didn’t have much life experience, but she was of good caliber and actively pursued the truth, so I wanted to cultivate her as quickly as possible, because this would make the church’s work run much more smoothly. I intentionally got Yichen involved in all of the church’s different work projects and I would support her whenever I noticed any of her deficiencies. After a period of training, Yichen made great progress. But several months later, she was promoted and reassigned. I was reluctant to let her go and felt like I was losing a very capable assistant. Thinking of how I’d have to handle all the church’s work on my own going forward, having to work harder was one thing, but if my work performance suffered, what would people think of me? Then it occurred to me that it would benefit the church’s work for her to take on a greater load. I shouldn’t be so selfish—when Yichen left, I could just cultivate someone else.
Soon after that, a few nearby churches organized a gathering for watering workers, to summarize and share their experiences. The leader asked me to pick a watering worker to attend. At the time, I considered recommending Sister Wang Mingxi. She was an effective waterer and very meticulous and responsible. If I sent her to the gathering, she could cultivate even more brothers and sisters when she returned, and then the church’s watering work would be even more effective, which would make me look good. So I sent Mingxi to the gathering. However, a few days after Mingxi returned from the gathering, the leader kept seeking her out. I couldn’t help but wonder: “Is the leader going to promote Mingxi? She’s crucial to our church’s watering work. If she leaves, won’t our watering work suffer? Then what will the brothers and sisters think of me? If I had only known, I would never have let her attend that gathering.” Later on, Mingxi told me there was another church in dire need of watering workers, so the leader planned to reassign her. I was reluctant to assent to this, but I worried that if I didn’t agree, the leader would say I was selfish and inconsiderate of God’s will. I had no choice but to let Mingxi go. After she left, I felt pretty depressed. I thought to myself: “If the new believers leave the church because there are no capable workers to water them, will the leader deal with me and say I don’t fulfill my responsibility? How could I deal with that kind of shaming?” The more I thought, the more resistant I felt.
One day, when I returned home from a gathering, two sisters who were working to water newcomers said to me: “We received a letter from the leader asking you to find two more watering workers and to write assessments for the two of us.” When I heard this, I was visibly unhappy. I thought to myself: “Is the leader planning to reassign them as well? I only just trained up these two sisters. I’ve been able to delegate a lot of work to them and have much less to worry about now. If they’re reassigned, not only will my workload increase, my work performance will definitely suffer. If that happens, won’t the leader say I’m not a good leader?” After this occurred to me, I unhappily replied: “I really don’t know what the leader is thinking.” The two sisters saw that I looked down and perplexedly asked: “What’s the matter? Isn’t the leader just asking you to find two more watering workers?” After hearing their response, I felt a little embarrassed. After regaining my composure, I perfunctorily replied, “Alright, then we should choose some qualified candidates.” That’s what I said aloud, but in my mind I was contesting the decision: “Is the leader treating our church like a talent training center? First she wants this one, now she wants that one. The church’s work has finally started making progress, but how are we supposed to proceed if she reassigns these talents?” The more I thought about it, the worse I felt and I began to feel some animosity toward the leader. I continued to fulfill my duties, but with less enthusiasm than before. Soon after, during a gathering, the leader said she wanted to hear more about Brother Zhao Chengzhi, because she wanted to promote and cultivate him. As soon as I heard this, that resentful feeling returned. I thought to myself, “Chengzhi has performed well in his duties and I want to assign him to take charge of watering work. If all these people are reassigned, how am I supposed to do all this work by myself? Can I really get good results then?” The more I thought about it, the angrier I became: “Go ahead, reassign away! Far be it from me to get in the way of the church’s work.” After that, I just couldn’t calm myself down and felt all flustered in the gathering. After the gathering, I trudged back home and decided to write a letter to the leader, asking her to not reassign Chengzhi. At the time, I realized that I was being irrational, and so I thought better of writing the letter. But I was still upset and feeling down.
Later on, the leader held a gathering with us, and I fellowshiped about my recent state and behavior. The leader showed me a passage of God’s word. “The essence of the antichrists’ selfishness and vileness is obvious; their manifestations of this kind are particularly prominent. The church entrusts them with a piece of work, and if this work doesn’t give them the chance to show their face, they are not interested; if it brings renown and benefits, and lets them show their face, they are very interested, and willing to accept it. If it is work that is thankless or involves offending people, or is of no benefit to their status or reputation, they have no interest, and will not accept it, as if this work has nothing to do with them, and is not the work they ought to be doing. When they encounter difficulties, there is no chance that they will seek the truth to solve them, much less give any consideration to the work of the church and try to see the bigger picture. For example, within the scope of the work of God’s house, based on overall work needs, there may be some personnel transfers. If a few people are transferred from a church, what would be the sensible way for that church’s leaders to treat the issue? What is the problem if they are concerned only with their own church’s work, rather than the overall interests? Why, as a church leader, are they unable to submit to the overall arrangements of God’s house? Is such a person considerate of God’s will and attentive to the work’s big picture? If they do not think of the work of God’s house as a whole, but only of their own church’s interests, are they not very selfish and contemptible? Church leaders should unconditionally submit to the sovereignty and arrangements of God, and to the centralized arrangements and coordination of God’s house. This is what accords with the principles of the truth. When required by the work of God’s house, no matter who they are, everyone should submit to the coordination and arrangements of God’s house, and absolutely should not be controlled by any individual leader or worker as if they belong to them. The obedience of God’s chosen ones to the centralized arrangements of the house of God is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, and may not be defied by anyone. Unless an individual leader or worker makes an irrational transferal that is not in accordance with principle—in which case this may be disobeyed—all of God’s chosen ones should obey, and no leader or worker has the right or any reason to try to control anyone. Would you say there is any work that is not the work of the house of God? Is there any work that does not involve the expansion of God’s kingdom gospel? It is all the work of God’s house, each work is equal, and there is no ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ If the transferal is in line with principle and based on the requirements of church work, then these people should go where they are needed most. And yet, what is the antichrists’ response when faced with this kind of situation? They find various pretexts and excuses to keep these suitable people in their hands, serving them. They only offer two ordinary people, and then find some pretext to turn the screws on you, either saying how work is so busy, or that they’re short-handed, people are hard to find, and if these two are transferred, work will take a hit. And they ask you what they are supposed to do, and make you feel guilty. Is this not the way the devil operates? This is how the unbelievers do things. Are people who always try and protect their own interests in the church—are they good people? Are they people who act according to principle? Absolutely not. They are unbelievers and nonbelievers. And is this not selfish and vile? If someone of good caliber is transferred from under the antichrist to perform another duty, in their heart the antichrist doggedly resists and rejects it—they want to call it quits, and have no enthusiasm for being a leader or group head. What problem is this? Why do they have no obedience toward the arrangements of the church? They think the transferal of their ‘right hand man’ will impact the productivity and progress of their work, and that their status and reputation will be affected as a result, which will force them to work harder and suffer more to guarantee productivity—which is the last thing they want to do. They have grown used to comfort, and don’t want to work harder or suffer more, and so they don’t want to let the person go. If the house of God insists on the transfer, they make a big fuss and even refuse to do their own work. Is this not selfish and vile? God’s chosen ones should be centrally allocated by the house of God. This has nothing to do with any leader, team head, or individual. Everyone must act according to principle; this is the rule of God’s house. When antichrists do not act according to the principles of God’s house, when they constantly scheme for the sake of their own status and interests, and make brothers and sisters of good caliber serve them in order to consolidate their power and status, is this not selfish and vile? Outwardly, keeping people of good caliber by their side and not allowing them to be transferred by the house of God appears as if they are thinking of church work, but in fact they are only thinking of their own power and status, and not about the work of the church at all. They are afraid that they will mess their work up, be replaced, and lose their status. When antichrists give no thought to the wider work of God’s house, think only of their own status, protect their own status with no compunction for the cost to the interests of the house of God, and defend their own status and interests to the detriment of the church’s work, this is selfish and vile” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). God’s words expose how antichrists are deeply selfish and despicable. In order to preserve their status and reputation, they hoard people and are unwilling to share them out, not considering the church’s work in the slightest. I saw how my own behavior was just like that of an antichrist. Especially when I read the lines, “When antichrists do not act according to the principles of God’s house, when they constantly scheme for the sake of their own status and interests, and make brothers and sisters of good caliber serve them in order to consolidate their power and status, is this not selfish and vile?” God’s words cut me to the quick. I reflected on my recent behavior: When I learned that Mingxi might be promoted, I worried that the watering work would suffer and my reputation would be damaged, so I didn’t want to let her leave, and was even regretful that I’d sent her to attend the gathering. When the leader asked me to find two more waterers and write assessments of my sisters, I guessed that the leader was planning on reassigning them and felt resistant and argumentative. I even developed animosity toward the leader. When the leader wanted to promote Chengzhi, I knew that he satisfied the principles for promotion and training, but when I thought about how it would have an impact on the gospel and watering work of the church if he left, I didn’t want to let him leave. I treated the brothers and sisters as my capable right-hand men, and wanted to keep them all to myself to help me solidify my status and reputation and satisfy my selfish desires. I didn’t think of the interests of the church, nor did I consider how to act to satisfy God. I was just so selfish and lowly. The unbelievers of the secular world do whatever they can to keep their top talent by their side to help them expand and develop their enterprises. I went about my own duty in just the same way. I treated my duty like my own personal enterprise, acting according to self-serving principles and only considering my own reputation and status. God detested and was disgusted by such actions—I was walking the antichrist’s path of resisting God.
Later on, I came across another passage of God’s words. “If someone says they love the truth and that they pursue the truth, but in essence, the goal they pursue is to distinguish themselves, to show off, to make people think highly of them, to achieve their own interests, and the performing of their duty is not to obey or satisfy God, and instead is to achieve prestige and status, then their pursuit is illegitimate. That being the case, when it comes to the work of the church, are their actions an obstacle, or do they help move it forward? They are clearly an obstacle; they do not move it forward. Some people wave the banner of doing the work of the church yet pursue their own personal prestige and status, run their own operation, create their own little group, their own little kingdom—is this kind of person performing their duty? All the work they do essentially interrupts, disrupts, and impairs the work of the church. What is the consequence of their pursuit of status and prestige? First, this affects how God’s chosen people eat and drink God’s word and understand the truth, it hinders their life entry, it stops them from entering the right track of faith in God, and leads them onto the wrong path—which harms the chosen ones, and brings them to ruin. And what does it ultimately do to the work of the church? It is dismantlement, interruption and impairment. This is the consequence brought about by people’s pursuit of fame and status. When they perform their duty in this way, can this not be defined as walking the path of an antichrist? When God asks that people put aside status and prestige, it is not that He is depriving people of the right to choose; rather, it is because, while pursuing prestige and status, people disrupt and disturb the work of the church and the life entry of God’s chosen people, and can even have an influence on others’ eating and drinking God’s words, understanding the truth, and thus achieving God’s salvation. This is an indisputable fact. When people pursue their own prestige and status, it is certain that they will not pursue the truth and that they will not faithfully perform their duty. They will only speak and act for the sake of prestige and status, and all the work they do, without the least exception, is for those things’ sake. To behave and act in such a way is, without question, to walk the path of the antichrists; it is a disruption and disturbance of God’s work, and all its various consequences are hindering the spread of the kingdom gospel and the free flow of God’s will within the church. So, one may say with certainty that the path walked by those who pursue prestige and status is the path of resistance against God. It is intentional resistance against Him, naysaying Him—it is to cooperate with Satan in resisting God and standing in opposition to Him. This is the nature of people’s pursuit of status and prestige. The problem with people pursuing their own interests is that the goals they pursue are the goals of Satan—they are goals that are wicked and unjust. When people pursue personal interests such as prestige and status, they unwittingly become a tool of Satan, they become a channel for Satan, and, moreover, they become an embodiment of Satan. They play a negative role in the church; toward the work of the church, and toward the normal church life and normal pursuit of God’s chosen people, the effect they have is to disturb and impair; they have an adverse and negative effect” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). Through God’s words, I realized that the nature and consequences of failing to practice the truth and always safeguarding one’s own interests are truly severe. It disturbs and obstructs the church’s work and is a service performed for Satan. The church cultivates and promotes people in order to allow them to receive training in a suitable position, and allow them to make the most out of their skills. This is beneficial for our brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and the church’s work and is in keeping with God’s will—it’s a positive thing that I, as a leader, should preserve and support. Instead, when I saw brothers and sisters being promoted, I wasn’t happy for them, but only considered my own reputation and status. I felt that these brothers and sisters were effective, they were my right-hand men, capable deputies. I would have much less to worry about if they were fulfilling duties in my church, we could work much more effectively, and my status would be solidified. So when one after the other were promoted and reassigned, I felt resistant, resentful and didn’t want to let them leave. I didn’t give the slightest thought to what would be better for the church’s work, nor did I consider what kind of environment would provide the best training for them, allowing them to put their skills into play. I called that fulfilling my duty? I was clearly acting as Satan’s emissary, obstructing the church’s work. I was only fulfilling my duty for my own reputation and status, and no matter how much I did, God would not acknowledge it. I thought of the pastors and elders of the religious world who are fully aware that The Church of Almighty God has testified the Lord has returned, and yet, for status and income, they still go to great lengths to stop believers investigating the true way and welcoming the Lord. They treat their believers like their private assets, and keep them firmly within their dominion. They strive with God for believers and have become antichrists and servants of evil, condemned and cursed by God. Was the way I acted any different from these pastors and elders? If I didn’t repent, I would meet the same fate as the Pharisees of the religious world, offending God’s disposition and enduring His punishment and curses.
At the time, I came across another passage of God’s words. “For all who fulfill their duty, however profound or shallow their understanding of the truth, the simplest way of practice by which to enter the reality of the truth is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything, and to let go of selfish desires, individual intentions, motives, pride, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least one should do. If a person performing their duty cannot do even this much, then how can they be said to be performing their duty? This is not performing one’s duty. You should first consider the interests of God’s house, be considerate of God’s will, and consider the work of the church, and put these things first and foremost; only after that can you think about the stability of your status or how others see you. Do you not feel that it gets a little easier when you divide it into these steps and make some compromises? If you practice like this for a while, you will come to feel that satisfying God is not difficult. In addition, you should be able to fulfill your responsibilities, perform your obligations and duties, set aside your selfish desires, set aside your own intents and motives, have consideration for God’s will, and put first the interests of God’s house, the work of the church, and the duty you should perform. After experiencing this for a while, you will feel that this is a good way to conduct yourself. It is living straightforwardly and honestly, without being a base person or a good-for-nothing, and living justly and honorably rather than being despicable and mean. You will feel that this is how a person should live and act. Gradually, the desire within your heart to gratify your own interests will lessen” (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). God’s words point out a path of practice. The key to doing our duties is to prioritize the interests of the church and put aside our personal interests to safeguard the church’s work. In reality, people with conscience, rationality and humanity, would consider what the work required, and submit to the arrangements of the church if people were reassigned. They wouldn’t consider their own interests. The core aspect of one’s work as a leader is to water the brothers and sisters and cultivate talent, allowing every brother and sister to put their talents to play and fulfill the duties most suited to them. God’s chosen belong to God, not one person. The church can choose to reassign people based upon what is needed for the work and who is most suited to which duty. I had no right to hoard people for myself. Once I understood this, I was willing to forsake my flesh and no longer selfishly and despicably prioritize my own interests.
One day, I received a letter from the leader, asking me to write an assessment of Chengzhi. She wanted to evaluate whether he could be promoted to lead the watering work. I thought to myself: “Chengzhi currently presides over our church’s gospel and watering work. If he leaves and our work performance suffers, won’t the leader say I’m incompetent?” Just then, I suddenly realized, I was being selfish and self-interested again. Chengzhi was a talented waterer, and it would be more beneficial to the church’s work to have him responsible for a larger portion of work. In turn, he would get more training, so I should be supportive. At the time, I recalled God’s words, which say: “God is forever supreme and ever honorable, while man is forever base, forever worthless. This is because God is forever making sacrifices and devoting Himself to mankind; man, however, forever takes and strives only for himself. God is forever taking pains for mankind’s survival, yet man never contributes anything for the sake of the light or for righteousness. Even if man makes an effort for a time, it cannot withstand a single blow, for the effort of man is always for his own sake and not for others. Man is always selfish, while God is forever selfless. God is the source of all that is just, good, and beautiful, while man is he who succeeds to and makes manifest all ugliness and evil. God will never alter His essence of righteousness and beauty, yet man is perfectly capable, at any time and in any situation, of betraying righteousness and straying far from God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition). God is so holy! God is forever unselfish, and whatever work He does or situation He devises for people, He always does so with consideration for people’s lives, and in order to cleanse and transform our corrupt dispositions, allowing us to be saved and live out normal humanity. Reflecting on myself, as soon as the situation God devised threatened my interests, I complained and resisted and was terribly selfish and despicable. Thinking of God’s holiness and selflessness, I felt ashamed, regretful and remorseful. I realized that living in this way was wretched, lowly and worthless. I had to stop being so selfish and despicable, only considering my own reputation and status. I needed to make the interests of the church my first priority. So I collected all of Chengzhi’s evaluations and submitted them to the leader and, after that, he was promoted to be a supervisor. After practicing in that way, I felt grounded and peaceful.
Some time later, I noticed that Sister Li Hui had good caliber, fellowshiped the truth in a detailed, layered way, was loving and patient with the brothers and sisters, had the talents needed to spread the gospel and water new believers and was suitable for training. After Chengzhi left, not only did our gospel work not suffer, it even improved a bit. Before, I had always thought that when these people left, our work would suffer. Now I realize I was completely wrong. This was just my excuse for relying on pre-existing assets and not doing practical work. In reality, it’s important for one’s heart to be in the right place. If you can be considerate of God’s will, refrain from acting self-interestedly, train up new talents as soon as others are reassigned, and resolve problems in your work in a timely manner, you will receive God’s guidance. And your work will continually improve. Thank God!