71. Seeing My Own Selfishness
By Denise, Italy
I am in charge of watering for several groups at the church. One day, Lydia, a group leader, sent me a message saying that a newcomer, Madeline, who she was watering, hadn’t come to gatherings recently, and she didn’t reply to messages. I had watered Madeline before, and I was familiar with her. Lydia wanted me to contact her and ask her if she had any difficulties. I thought, “This is the fourth time you’ve reached out to me this month. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with Madeline after all the times you’ve asked me to help and support her. I’m already very busy watering other newcomers. Isn’t spending all my time on her getting in the way of my duty? The newcomers I’m responsible for still have many unresolved problems. You are in charge of watering Madeline, so you should be the one to support her. If Madeline still doesn’t normally attend gatherings after this long, maybe you are being careless in your duty. Besides, if I go to fellowship with her, no one will know I was the one who did the work. It would be better to spend my time on the newcomers who are my responsibility. If I water these people well and show that I am effective in my duty, the leaders will definitely say that I perform my duty and do my best.” Thinking of this, I told Lydia that the newcomers I was watering still had many problems to resolve, so I could only promise to leave a message to Madeline, but I couldn’t guarantee I had time to fellowship with her.
After I said this, I felt a bit guilty and a little uneasy. Was I safeguarding the work of the church by doing this? Was I practicing the truth? I thought of God’s word, “Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both most fundamental and most important. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of extremely poor humanity. Going into more detail, what manifestations of lost humanity does this person exhibit? Have a go at analyzing what characteristics are found in such people and what specific manifestations they present. (They are selfish and mean.) Selfish and mean people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. What is it that they think about whenever they do something? Their first consideration is, ‘Will God know if I do this? Is it visible to other people? If other people don’t see that I expend all this effort and work industriously, and if God doesn’t see it either, then there is no use for my expending such effort or suffering for this.’ Is this not extremely selfish? It is also a base sort of intent. When they think and act in this way, is their conscience playing any role? Is their conscience accused in this? No” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). What God’s words revealed was precisely my state. I felt very ashamed and guilty. In everything I did, I only considered whether it was beneficial to myself and whether people could see it. I didn’t consider the work of the church. I was so selfish and despicable! Madeline didn’t come to gatherings, so she needed support, help, and the watering and supply of God’s words. Madeline and I were more familiar with each other, so it was best that I help her, yet all I could think of was the time and energy I would have to spend, whether I would get the credit, and what benefit I would get for it. When I thought of the fact that the leaders wouldn’t see it if I paid a price for this matter, I made excuses to avoid it, without thinking at all whether Madeline would become passive and abandon her faith. I thought about how much effort God puts into saving a person, and how at the same time, Satan watches everyone closely and tries to use all kinds of tricks to prevent people from following God. If newcomers don’t come to gatherings, we all need to be unified in our purpose, rely on God, fellowship on the truth with newcomers, solve their various difficulties and problems, and help them lay a foundation in the true way as soon as possible. But I wasn’t at all considerate of God’s will. I clearly saw that Madeline would not come to gatherings, and that she was in danger of withdrawing from her belief, but I chose to stand by and ignore it. I was selfish and despicable, with no humanity at all. Thinking of this, I felt even guiltier and more miserable. I felt that I couldn’t be so unconscionable. I had to cooperate with Lydia and support Madeline.
That night, I left a message for Madeline to inquire about her state. The next day, Madeline replied to my message, saying some things had happened to her recently, and she was feeling very negative. She didn’t know whether she should come to gatherings or not. I asked her what difficulties she encountered, but she hesitated to tell me. I thought she must be having a relatively major difficulty. Without fellowship to resolve it soon, she was in danger of taking a misstep and withdrawing. But I also knew her character. Without long-term communication and guidance, it was hard for her to open her heart. It just so happened that I was put in charge of more newcomers in the past few days, so it was a very busy time. If I spent all my time resolving her state, I couldn’t water the newcomers I was responsible for in a timely manner. If they had problems, wouldn’t that be my responsibility? If I became less effective in the performance of my duty, what would the leaders think of me? As I thought of this, I hesitated again. I wanted to pass this issue to another brother or sister to resolve. At that moment, Madeline suddenly went offline and didn’t reply to messages. When I saw this, I thought to myself that I had asked the question, and there was nothing I could do if she didn’t want to tell me, so I stopped asking her about it.
The next day, a newcomer I was in charge of watering didn’t reply to my message. I was a little anxious, so I quickly went to learn about her difficulties, for fear that she wouldn’t come to gatherings. At this time, I suddenly realized I was irresponsible for not continuing to ask after Madeline yesterday, and I felt a little guilty. Here was a newcomer who was having problems, one I was directly responsible for, and I took the time to support and help her, but for someone not within the scope of my responsibility, I felt that if I was spending a little extra time, I was delaying my own duty. Why was I so selfish? Thinking of this, I prayed to God to ask Him to guide me in understanding myself more deeply. I read another passage of God’s words that helped me see this issue a little more clearly. God’s word says, “How does the selfishness and vileness of the antichrists manifest itself? In anything that benefits their status or reputation, they make effort to do or say whatever is necessary, and they willingly endure any suffering. But where work arranged by God’s house is concerned, or where work that benefits the life growth of God’s chosen people is concerned, they utterly ignore it. Even when evildoers disrupt, interfere, and commit all kinds of evil, thereby seriously affecting the work of the church, they remain impassive and unconcerned, as if this has nothing to do with them. And if someone discovers and reports an evildoer’s wicked deeds, they say they saw nothing and feign ignorance. … Regardless of what work they undertake, the kind of person who is an antichrist never gives any thought to the interests of the house of God. They only consider whether their own interests will be affected, only think about the little bit of work in front of them that benefits them. For them, the primary work of the church is just something they do in their spare time. They don’t take it seriously at all. They simply make a perfunctory effort, only do what they like to do, and only do the work of maintaining their own position and power. In their eyes, any work arranged by God’s house, the work of spreading the gospel, and the life entry of God’s chosen people are not important. No matter what difficulties other people have in their work, what issues they have identified and reported to them, how sincere their words are, the antichrists pay no heed, they do not get involved, it’s as if this has nothing to do with them. They are utterly indifferent to the affairs of the church, no matter how major these affairs are. Even when the problem is right in front of them, they only address it perfunctorily. Only when they are directly dealt with by the Above and ordered to sort out a problem will they grudgingly do a little real work and give the Above something to see; soon after, they will continue with their own business. Toward the work of the church, toward the important things of the wider context, they are disinterested, oblivious. They even ignore the problems they discover, and they give perfunctory answers or use their words to brush you off when asked about problems, only addressing them with great reluctance. This is the manifestation of selfishness and vileness, is it not? What’s more, no matter what duty antichrists are performing, all they think about is whether it will raise their profile; as long as it will boost their reputation, they rack their brains to come up with a way to learn how to do it, to carry it out; all they care about is whether it will set them apart. No matter what they do or think, they are only concerned with their own fame and status. No matter what duty they are performing, they only compete over who is higher or lower, who wins and who loses, who has the bigger reputation. They only care about how many people look up to them, how many people obey them, and how many followers they have. They never fellowship the truth or solve real problems. They never consider how to do things according to principle when performing one’s duty, whether they have been faithful, have fulfilled their responsibilities, have been deviant, or if any problems exist, nor do they give thought to what God asks, and what the will of God is. They pay not the slightest attention to all these things. They only put their head down and do things for the sake of status and prestige, to satisfy their own ambitions and wants. This is the manifestation of selfishness and vileness, is it not? This fully exposes how their hearts brim with their own ambitions, wants, and senseless demands; everything they do is governed by their ambitions and wants. No matter what they do, the motivation and starting point is their own ambitions, wants, and senseless demands. This is the archetypal manifestation of selfishness and vileness” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). God’s words cut deep and made me feel miserable. Antichrists only consider their own interests in all they do. As long as something benefits them, they rack their brains and work hard to accomplish it, they are willing to endure any suffering, while for things that don’t benefit them, they won’t lift a finger. They don’t safeguard the interests of the church at all, and they are especially selfish and despicable. To an antichrist, a duty is only a tool to achieve their personal goals. All their efforts are for their own selfish desires. They don’t care how many people can come before God or whether other people’s problems can be solved. Their only concern is whether they can be highly regarded by others and stand out from the crowd. They turn their duty into a tool with which they pursue their own reputation and status, and their brothers and sisters all become victims of their pursuit. Weren’t my actions the same as an antichrist? When Madeline had difficulties and needed help, I felt I was wasting my time fellowshiping with her. I felt I wouldn’t get credit for the time and energy I spent handling it, and I felt I wouldn’t gain anything, so I was hesitant about doing it. Even when I reluctantly did, I was just going through the motions. When Madeline didn’t reply to the message, I didn’t ask again or care about what happened. I even felt I couldn’t help if I couldn’t get in touch with her. I knew that if Madeline’s difficulties weren’t resolved in time, she was in danger of withdrawing from her faith, but I still tried to deceive my conscience and muddle through. I was truly irresponsible. When the newcomers I was in charge of encountered difficulties, I could expend great effort to find a solution, because it involved whether I was effective in my duty and whether I would be highly regarded by the leaders, brothers, and sisters. I was willing to suffer and pay a price for my own image and interests, but when I had nothing to gain, even when I saw a newcomer being disturbed by Satan, living in darkness, and in danger of being captured by Satan, I did nothing about it. How could I be said to have any humanity? I was responsible for watering newcomers. When newcomers had any difficulties or problems, I had an obligation to resolve them. Especially when newcomers were weak and passive, I needed to support them in time to help them lay a foundation in the true way. However, I divided my duties into yours and mine. I felt it was not my duty if I was not directly responsible. I didn’t consider the overall work of the church, let alone the newcomer’s state. If she withdrew because I was irresponsible, wouldn’t I be doing evil? I was so selfish and despicable! I thought about why this world is getting darker and more evil, and why humans are becoming more and more corrupt. It is because people live by satanic philosophies such as “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Never lift a finger without a reward.” These things have long since become people’s natures. Everyone strives for their own interests, lives for themselves, and even sacrifices the interests of others for their own interests as they become more and more selfish and deceitful. Although I believed in God and fulfilled my duty in the church, I hadn’t yet obtained the truth. I still lived by satanic philosophies, I was always miserly with my time and energy, and I only pursued my personal interests. When it came to my own interests, I was willing to pay any price, and if I didn’t benefit, I ignored things, or even if I reluctantly did things, I muddled through and went through the motions. I saw that I had no sincerity toward God, I regarded my duty as a tool to pursue my own reputation and status, and used my duty to realize my own value. I was walking the path of the antichrists.
Later, I read a passage of God’s word that says, “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). After reading God’s words, I understood that God does not measure people’s performance of their duties based on how much suffering they endure or what price they pay, but by whether they practice the truth, whether their motives for doing things are safeguarding the interests of the church, and whether they testify and satisfy God. If their intention in performing their duty is to stand out from the crowd and make themselves look good, then no matter how much suffering they endure, God will not approve, and God will condemn them as evildoers. I thought about how, when Madeline was disturbed by Satan, when she was at her weakest and most in need of help, I stood by and didn’t care when I didn’t personally benefit. Performing my duty like this, I was engaging in a personal endeavor. I wasn’t trying to satisfy God at all. If I didn’t repent, in the end, I would only be detested and cast out by God. Once I understood this, I prayed to God, asking God to guide me in letting go of my selfishness and doing my best to support Madeline. After I prayed, I left another message for her, and I was surprised when she replied very quickly. At first, she was reluctant to open her heart, so I prayed to God, talked with her about my own experience, and guided her little by little. Later, she opened up and said her family had been deceived by the rumors and fallacies of the Communist Party recently, so they had hindered and persecuted her to stop her from believing in God. She felt constrained, so she was unwilling to come to gatherings. I read a few passages of God’s word to her and fellowshiped on how to practice the truth when disturbed by Satan, as well as how to stand firm, bear witness, and humiliate Satan. Before I knew it, three hours had passed, and it was already early morning, but Madeline thanked God that she felt energetic that night and didn’t feel tired, and she said she wanted to come to the next gathering. When I heard her say this, I was very moved. I hadn’t done anything but spent some time fellowshiping on God’s words with her, and her attitude changed. All of this was the result of God’s work. I realized that by putting aside my personal interests, practicing the truth, and performing my duty, I would have God’s guidance, and my heart would feel at ease and peaceful.
Soon, a sister came to me and said that a newcomer she was responsible for watering hadn’t come to gatherings, and she didn’t know how to fellowship and help her. Knowing that I had watered this newcomer before, she wanted me to help, support, and fellowship with this newcomer. When this happened, I felt a little reluctant. I thought to myself, “To solve the newcomer’s problem, I’ll have to spend a lot of time fellowshiping with her. I’ve been busy recently, and the newcomers I am responsible for also need watering and support. Besides, I hadn’t been in contact with this newcomer for a while, so if I went talking to her, she wouldn’t necessarily reply to me, so do I still need to spend the time?” When I noticed myself having these thoughts, I realized I was protecting my own interests again, so I silently prayed to God, calmed myself, and stopped arguing for myself. Later, I read this passage of God’s word, “When selfishness and opportunism appear in you, and you realize it, you should pray to God and seek the truth in order to address this. The first thing you should be aware of is that in essence, acting in this way is a violation of the principles of the truth, it is harmful to the work of the church, it is selfish and despicable behavior, it is not what normal people ought to be doing. You should put aside your own interests and selfishness, and should think of the work of the church—that is what God wills. After reflecting on yourself through prayer, if you truly realize that acting thus is selfish and despicable, putting aside your own selfishness will be easy. When you put aside your selfishness and opportunism, you will feel grounded, you will be at peace, joyous, and will feel that there should be conscience and sense to how you conduct yourself, that you should think of the church’s work, that you should not fixate on your own interests, which is so selfish, despicable, and devoid of conscience or sense. Acting selflessly, thinking of the work of the church, and only doing what satisfies God is righteous and honorable, and will bring value to your existence. Living this way on earth, you are being open and honest, you are living out normal humanity, and the true image of man, and not only do you have a clear conscience, but are also worthy of all the things bestowed upon you by God. The more you live like this, the more grounded you will feel, the more peaceful and joyous you will be, and the brighter you will feel. As such, will you not have set foot upon the right track of faith in God?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). God’s word pointed out a clear path for me to practice. Those who truly believe in God can put aside their personal interests and protect the interests of the church to the greatest extent possible when things happen, while those who are selfish and despicable, and who scheme for their own interests when performing their duty, will only choose to satisfy their personal interests. I realized this circumstance came to me as a test from God. God wanted to see how I would choose in this matter. This time, I could no longer be selfish and despicable and only think about myself. I had to practice the truth to satisfy God. Thinking of this, I calmed my heart and sent a message to the newcomer as I sincerely prayed for her. When I practiced like this, I felt very secure. When I knew I had done all I could, I felt there was nothing to regret. I truly realized that I must do my duty without concern for my personal gains and losses, and that I must do my best to fulfill my responsibilities. Only in this way could I live an upright life.