64. What I Gained by Being an Honest Person
At a work meeting, a leader asked me how a church’s watering of newcomers that I was in charge of was going. I was stunned. I hadn’t followed up on it for the past few days and I didn’t know the specifics. How should I respond? If I said I didn’t know, the leader and other co-workers would definitely say I wasn’t doing practical work, and that would be embarrassing. I figured I could just share what I knew from before and then see what I could do after that. So I responded, “Arrangements have been made for all of that work, and we’ve added some team members.” The leader said right away, “You’re not answering the question, you’re prevaricating. That’s being cunning. If you don’t know, just say so and follow up as soon as you can. Why are you being so indirect? That’s not good. A mistake is a mistake, and you should have the courage to admit to it!” I felt fidgety and uneasy, and my face was burning. Just what I’d feared had happened. I felt like I’d totally lost face, that everyone had seen through me. I knew that what the leader said was right, but I couldn’t submit in my heart. I felt like she didn’t have to say so much about it. Wouldn’t it be fine if I just took care of it as soon as I could? Why on earth did she have to prune and deal with me in front of all those people? I was really upset, so I silently prayed, “God, I feel resistant to what happened today and I can’t submit to it. Please enlighten me so I can know myself and learn a lesson.”
I read God’s words later. “Let us first look at what kind of question Jehovah God asked of Satan. ‘From where come you?’ Isn’t this a straightforward question? Is there any hidden meaning? No; it is just a straightforward question. If I were to ask you: ‘Where do you come from?’ how then would you answer? Is it a difficult question to answer? Would you say: ‘From going to and fro, and from walking up and down’? (No.) You would not answer like this. So, how then do you feel when you see Satan answering in this way? (We feel that Satan is being absurd, but also deceitful.) Can you tell what I am feeling? Every time I see these words of Satan, I feel disgusted, because Satan talks, and yet its words contain no substance. Did Satan answer God’s question? No, the words Satan spoke were not an answer, they did not yield anything. They were not an answer to God’s question. ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ What is your understanding of these words? Just where does Satan come from? Have you received an answer to this question? (No.) This is the ‘genius’ of Satan’s cunning schemes—not letting anyone discover what it is actually saying. Having heard these words you still cannot discern what it has said, even though it has finished answering. Yet Satan believes it has answered perfectly. How then do you feel? Disgusted? (Yes.) Now you begin to feel disgust in response to these words. Satan’s words have a certain characteristic: What Satan says leaves you scratching your head, unable to perceive the source of its words. Sometimes Satan has motives and speaks deliberately, and sometimes governed by its nature, such words emerge spontaneously, and come straight out of Satan’s mouth. Satan does not spend a long time weighing such words; rather, they are expressed without thinking. When God asked where it came from, Satan answered with a few ambiguous words. You feel very puzzled, never knowing exactly where Satan is from. Are there any among you who speak like this? What kind of way is this to speak? (It is ambiguous and does not give a certain answer.) What kind of words should we use to describe this way of speaking? It is diversionary and misleading, is it not? Suppose someone does not want to let others know what they did yesterday. You ask them: ‘I saw you yesterday. Where were you going?’ They do not tell you directly where they went. Rather, they say: ‘What a day it was yesterday. It was so tiring!’ Did they answer your question? They did, but they did not give the answer you wanted. This is the ‘genius’ within the artifice of man’s speech. You can never discover what they mean, nor perceive the source or intention of their words. You do not know what they are trying to avoid because in their heart they have their own story—this is insidious” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique IV). I saw from what God’s words reveal that Satan’s words and deeds all carry motives and trickery. To cover up its shameful intentions, it speaks in really roundabout ways so people can’t make sense of it. It’s really insidious and cunning. Satan answers God’s questions with ambiguous, misleading responses. It’s disgusting to God. As for me, I clearly didn’t know how the watering of newcomers was going, but I wasn’t truthful. I gave a non-answer to confuse the leader. I answered the question without letting the leader see the truth. To protect my face and status, and so the leader wouldn’t know I wasn’t doing practical work and the brothers and sisters there wouldn’t look down on me, I brazenly said something to obscure the facts, to mislead and deceive them. I was displaying a satanic disposition! Thinking back on it, I was usually that way with the brothers and sisters. Like sometimes, some people asked me some skills-based questions, but I didn’t really have a good understanding of these things, and I was afraid that telling the truth would make them look down on me, so I said things like, “If this problem isn’t resolved, it’s not just an issue with your skill level, right? Isn’t it because you have been muddling through your duty? Or are you failing to learn and communicate?” On the surface, it looked like I was answering the question, but I knew in my heart that kind of answer didn’t resolve the issue. I thought when I asked questions like that in return, they would self-reflect, and that they would also stop asking me questions. That way, my shortcomings wouldn’t be exposed. I was always being cunning and deceptive to protect my reputation and status. I was happier to tell lies than to lose face. That fully revealed my slippery, crafty nature that was fed up with the truth. I thought that lying and deceiving is really clever, but in fact, it’s foolish! Even if I duped and misled everyone, and they looked up to me and thought I could get work done and do my duty well, God wouldn’t approve—He’d be disgusted with me. Then what good was the approval of these people? At that moment, I felt empty-handed and pathetic. I was busy from morning till night, but I couldn’t say a single honest thing. My cunning disposition hadn’t changed at all, and I didn’t have any reality of the truth. Being so harshly exposed, pruned and dealt with by the leader that day was a warning for me! I knew I couldn’t continue on that way, but I had to repent to God, seek to be an honest person, and live out that reality.
After that, I wondered what other dishonest behaviors I still had. I knew I had to do some introspection and change them. I realized through self-reflection that there were some cunning parts in my recent work summary, too. I noted in detail the work that was done more thoroughly, more completely. But the work that was done roughly and inefficiently I wrote about in general terms, or didn’t write about how it was developing at all. I remember there was a project that wasn’t getting good results, and when it came time to do the work summary, I was starting to consider what everyone would think of me if I wrote the truth. Would they say I couldn’t even do that little project well, that I was incompetent? I weighed the pros and cons, and decided not to write about that project’s progress so no one would know, and maybe they’d think I was just too busy and had forgotten about it. I was plotting, being disingenuous and deceitful time after time. I was so crafty! Over my years of faith, though I’d done lots of duties and could endure hardship and pay a price, I wasn’t putting effort into practicing the truth. I was just thinking about how to protect my reputation and status, so I still wasn’t remotely speaking and acting like an honest person. I didn’t have the courage to be simple and open—it was pathetic! Sometimes I’d ask myself: God has spoken to us so much, and I’ve read quite a bit of His words, but am I living out the reality of any of it? I couldn’t even write an accurate work summary. What would I gain that way in the end? I felt like I was on the brink of danger. Without repenting and pursuing a change in disposition, I’d be cast out by God at any point. I said a prayer in my heart, “God, I’m so deeply corrupted. I’m constantly lying and deceiving to protect my face and status. Please enlighten me to truly know myself.”
I read more of God’s words after that, they say: “If you are a leader or worker, are you afraid of the house of God questioning and supervising your work? Are you afraid that the house of God will discover lapses and mistakes in your work and deal with you? Are you afraid that after the Above gets to know your real caliber and stature, He will see you in a different light and not consider you for promotion? If you have these fears, this proves that your motivations are not for the sake of church work, you are working for the sake of status and prestige, which proves that you have the disposition of an antichrist. If you have the disposition of an antichrist, you are liable to walk the path of the antichrists, and commit all the evil wrought by antichrists. If, in your heart, you have no fear of God’s house supervising your work, and you are able to provide real answers to the questions and inquiries of the Above, without hiding anything, and say as much as you know, then regardless of whether what you say is right or wrong, irrespective of the corruption you betray—even if you betray the disposition of an antichrist—you will absolutely not be defined as an antichrist. What’s key is whether you are able to recognize your own disposition of an antichrist, and whether you are able to seek the truth in order to solve this problem. If you are someone who accepts the truth, your antichrist disposition can be fixed. If you know full well that you have the disposition of an antichrist and yet do not seek the truth to resolve it, if you even try to conceal or lie about problems that occur and shift responsibility, and if you do not accept the truth when subjected to pruning and dealing, then this is a serious problem, and you are no different from an antichrist. Knowing that you have the disposition of an antichrist, why do you not dare face it? Why can you not approach it frankly and say, ‘If the Above inquires about my work, I’ll say all I know, and even if the bad things I’ve done come to light, and the Above no longer makes use of me once He knows, and I lose my status, I’ll still say clearly what I have to say’? Your fear of supervision of and inquiries after your work by God’s house proves that you love your status more than the truth. Is this not the disposition of an antichrist? To cherish status above all is the disposition of an antichrist. Why do you treasure status so much? What are the benefits of status? If status brought you disaster, difficulties, embarrassment, and pain, would you still treasure it? (No.) There are so many benefits to having status, things like envy, respect, high opinion, and flattery from other people, as well as their admiration and reverence. There is also the sense of superiority and privilege that gives you dignity and a sense of self-worth. In addition, you can also enjoy things that others do not, such as trappings of status and special treatment. These are the things you dare not even think of, and are what you have longed for in your dreams. Do you cherish these things? If status is merely hollow, with no real significance, and defending it serves no real purpose, is it not foolish to cherish it? If you can let go of things such as interests and enjoyments of the flesh, then fame and status will no longer tie you down. So, what has to be resolved before resolving issues related to cherishing and chasing status? First, see through to the nature of the problem of doing evil and engaging in trickery, concealment, and covering up, as well as declining the supervision, queries, and investigation of God’s house, in order to enjoy the trappings of status. See whether this is blatant resistance and opposition against God. If you can see through to the nature and consequences of coveting the trappings of status, the problem of pursuing status will be resolved. And without the ability to see through to the essence of coveting the trappings of status, this problem will never be resolved” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part Two)). They helped me realize that I couldn’t stop myself from lying and deceiving because I cherished my reputation and status too much. To protect my name and position, and so the leader wouldn’t see the reality of my failures to follow up on work, I tried to scheme, play tricks, mislead the leader with my words. In my work summary I covered up my shortcomings, only writing the good, not the bad, so others would think I was a leader who did practical work. I was afraid they would see my true face and no longer look up to me, and then I’d not get to enjoy the sense of superiority brought by that status. When I saw in God’s words: “To cherish status above all is the disposition of an antichrist,” I finally realized what a serious issue this was. I thought of those antichrists who are expelled. They always pursue name and status in their duty, and they play tricks and are deceitful behind the scenes. That seriously disrupts the work of the church, so they’re exposed and kicked out. There are also false leaders who enjoy the benefits of status. They’re always crafty in their duty and cover up the truth when they don’t do real work, which holds up the work of the church. I remember a sister who was in charge of gospel work. She was handling other work at the time, too, but she was slippery and deceitful in both positions. In gospel work, she said she was busy with her other work, and in her other work she claimed she was busy with gospel work. Actually she wasn’t doing her work on either side, and she ended up being exposed and cast out. The lessons from others’ failures were a warning for me. Playing games and being deceitful for the sake of my name and status was just tricking myself and others, being foolish. God sees everything and He likes honest people. Only honest people have a firm footing in God’s house, and cunning people will be exposed and cast out sooner or later. In my faith I wasn’t seeking to be an honest person, but I was putting on an act, leaving a false impression, and though I fooled some people, I couldn’t escape God’s scrutiny. In the end God would have exposed me and cast me out. Then, I realized the importance of being honest and knew that being honest as God requires and accepting His scrutiny in all things is the only way to gain His approval. As the word of God says: “If someone always says what’s truly in their heart, if they never lie or exaggerate, if they’re sincere, and not at all careless or perfunctory while performing their duty, if they can practice the truth they understand, then this person has a hope of gaining the truth. If a person always covers themselves up and conceals their heart so that no one can see them clearly, if they give a false impression to deceive others, then they are in grave danger, they are in great trouble, it will be very difficult for them to gain the truth. You can see from someone’s daily life and their words and actions what their prospects are. If this person is always pretending, always putting on airs, then this person is not someone who accepts the truth, and they will be revealed and cast out sooner or later. … People who never open up, who always hide things, who always pretend to be upright, who are always trying to make others think highly of them, who don’t allow others to get a full sense of them and have others admire them—are these people not stupid? Such people are extremely stupid! That’s because the truth about a person will come to light sooner or later. What path do they walk in their conduct? The path of the Pharisees. Are hypocrites in danger or not? They are the people who God hates the most, so do you imagine they are not in danger? All those who are Pharisees walk the road to perdition!” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). Always hiding and concealing, always pretending is the wrong path, and if you don’t turn back, you’ll ultimately be destroyed. I prayed to God and set my resolve, ready to start pursuing a change in disposition and be an honest person.
I thought of how God’s word says: “All that you do, every action, every intention, and every reaction should be brought before God. Even your daily spiritual life—your prayers, your closeness to God, how you eat and drink of God’s words, your fellowship with your brothers and sisters, and your life within the church—and your service in partnership can be brought before God for His scrutiny. It is such practice that will help you achieve growth in life. The process of accepting God’s scrutiny is the process of purification. The more you can accept God’s scrutiny, the more you are purified and the more you are in accord with God’s will, so that you will not be drawn into debauchery, and your heart will live in His presence. The more you accept His scrutiny, the greater are Satan’s humiliation and your ability to forsake the flesh. So, the acceptance of God’s scrutiny is a path of practice people should follow” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Perfects Those Who Are After His Own Heart). By pondering God’s words I gained a path of practice: accepting God’s scrutiny. So long as we accept God’s scrutiny our slippery and deceitful motives and ideas can be easily rectified, and only thus can our hearts become more and more pure and honest, and only thus will we be able to easily practice the truth and perform our duties well. After understanding God’s will, I practiced opening my heart to God, not pretending or packaging myself, and accepting God’s scrutiny in all things. I’d warn myself when I wrote a work summary after that to be honest and accept God’s scrutiny, and accurately describe the work I hadn’t done well. When the leader asked about my work, I’d consciously practice telling the truth. When the others asked me questions, I was truthful about what I didn’t know. If I knew, I said I knew, and if I didn’t, then I said I didn’t. After putting this into practice I felt much more at ease. I experienced that consciously accepting God’s scrutiny is a path to enter into the reality of the truth and cast off corruption. Without being pruned or dealt with, I wouldn’t have seriously examined my own corrupt disposition, and really wouldn’t have pursued the truth to enter into reality. And no matter how many years I had faith, how many duties I did or how much I suffered, my corrupt disposition would never have changed at all. I wouldn’t have been able to be saved even if I hold onto my belief to the end, and I’d be destined to be cast out by God.
Being pruned and dealt with that time showed me the importance of being honest, and I gained some understanding of my slippery and cunning satanic disposition. That was God’s love and salvation.