8. Practice the Truth Even If It Offends
In May 2020, I accepted the work of Almighty God in the last days. I sought enthusiastically and actively carried out my duties. Ten months later, I was chosen as a church leader. At that time I was under a lot of pressure. I felt that I was still young and that my understanding of the truth was shallow, and so I was afraid that I would not be up to this duty. So I prayed to God. Later, I thought back on a passage of God’s word: “You must believe that everything is in God’s hands, and that people are just cooperating. If you are sincere, God will see, and He will open up a way out for you in every situation. No difficulty is insurmountable; you must have this faith. Therefore, when you fulfill your duties, there is no need to have any misgivings. As long as you give it your all, with all your heart, God will not give you difficulties, nor will He give you more than you can handle” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Believing in God, What Is Most Important Is to Practice and Experience His Words). The word of God gave me faith and I understood that God sees people’s hearts. So long as I truly gave consideration to the will of God and tried my best, then God would lead me. Knowing this, I no longer felt constrained and began to throw myself into my duty.
Later, the church urgently needed to train two gospel deacons. I found that Brother Kevin’s caliber was good, he was quite active in gatherings and grasped the principles of spreading the gospel. There was also Sister Janelle, who was active in her duties and produced some results. Compared to others, these two seemed right for this duty, and my leader agreed with me. So, I made them both gospel deacons. After a while, they became familiar with the role, so I allowed them to perform their duties independently and I put all of my energy into watering work. After a few weeks, I found out that some who had just received the gospel left the gathering group, and some who spread the gospel had difficulties in their duties that they couldn’t resolve. As I saw all these problems in gospel work, I started to wonder, “Are these two gospel deacons doing practical work?” So, I went to investigate their work in detail. I found that they only arranged things, but didn’t do the work themselves, that they didn’t do follow-up work, and that at gatherings they didn’t resolve practical problems, they merely reminded and urged other brothers and sisters to do their duty properly. This was leading to brothers’ and sisters’ problems going unresolved. After learning of these circumstances, I was very disappointed. I thought to myself: “As church deacons, isn’t it neglectful for them to not resolve practical problems?” I also found out that Brother Kevin wasn’t doing a proper job, and was playing games, while Sister Janelle had been rather lazy and irresponsible in her duties during this time. I initially wanted to fellowship with them and point out the problems in their duties, but because we had always gotten along so well, I was afraid that this would spoil our relationship. If I pointed out their problems, what would they think of me? Would they say that I didn’t see their efforts, that I was only focusing on their deficiencies, and that I lacked a loving heart? I hoped that the brothers and sisters saw me as a good person, someone understanding and considerate. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation because of this incident. If the two deacons couldn’t accept it and became negative and unwilling to perform their duties, would my brothers and sisters think I was incapable of the work of a leader? That I was a bad leader? If my leader knew about this, I might be dealt with. But I thought that since I was in charge of church work, it was my responsibility to point out their problems so they could reflect and gain some knowledge. I was conflicted, but in the end, I still couldn’t say it. Instead, I sent them some of God’s words of encouragement and comfort and gently fellowshiped with them on how to perform one’s duty well. Afterward, I felt very guilty. I felt dishonest and deceitful.
One night, I couldn’t sleep as I kept thinking, “The ineffectiveness of the gospel work is directly related to me. I saw two gospel deacons being irresponsible in their duties, who were not solving practical problems, and who were causing brothers and sisters to be ineffective in their duties. Some brothers and sisters fell into a negative state, and some newcomers left the gathering group, but I didn’t point out these two deacons’ problems.” I felt so much guilt in my heart and I didn’t know what to do, so I sincerely prayed to God, seeking His enlightenment and asking for Him to lead me to resolve this problem. After I prayed, I watched a video of experiential testimony, which contained some words of God that inspired me a lot. Almighty God says: “Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both the 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, they are 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 performing their duties or testifying for God, and they have no sense of responsibility. … There are some people who do not take any responsibility regardless of the duty they are performing. They don’t promptly report problems they discover to their superiors, either. When they see people being disruptive and disturbing, they turn a blind eye. When they see wicked people committing evil, they don’t try to stop them. They don’t protect the interests of the house of God, or consider what their duty and responsibility is. When they perform their duty, people like this don’t do any real work; they are people-pleasers who are greedy for comfort; they speak and act only for their own vanity, face, status, and interests, and are only willing to devote their time and effort to things that benefit them” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). I read God’s words and I felt very sad. Before, I had always thought I had good humanity, that I had patiently helped my brothers and sisters, and that when I acted, I always considered the feelings of others and didn’t want to hurt them. I thought that I was being considerate of God’s will, and that I was a good person. But when I saw the two deacons being irresponsible in their duties and delaying church work, I didn’t safeguard the interests of the church, and I didn’t point out their problems. Instead, I indulged them because I feared pointing out their problems would destroy our relationship. I also worried my leader would criticize me if I made them negative and that my brothers and sisters would view me badly. For the sake of my image, status, and personal interests, I preferred to delay the work of the church. This was not at all being considerate of God’s will, and I was not a good person. In fact, people with good humanity are honest people, are able to practice the truth and protect the interests of the church, and when they see the problems of others they have the courage to fellowship and expose others, helping them change. They treat their brothers and sisters with a sincere heart. But when I saw the problems with the deacons, I didn’t say anything or point them out, and preferred to let the church’s work suffer to safeguard my own interests. I had such bad humanity. I felt ashamed at my lack of conscience and normal humanity.
Later, I read a passage of God’s words and gained more understanding of myself. Almighty God says: “Some church leaders, upon seeing their brothers or sisters performing their duties carelessly and perfunctorily, do not rebuke them, though they should. When they see something that is clearly detrimental to the interests of God’s house, they turn a blind eye and make no inquiries, so as not to cause the least offense to others. In fact, they are not really showing consideration for people’s weaknesses; instead, their intention is to win people over. They are fully aware of this, thinking: ‘If I keep this up and don’t cause offense to anyone, they’ll think I’m a good leader. They’ll have a good, high opinion of me. They’ll give me recognition and like me.’ No matter how much damage is done to the interests of God’s house, and no matter how greatly God’s chosen people are impeded in their life entry, or how greatly their church life is disturbed, such leaders persist in their satanic philosophy and cause no offense to anyone. There is never a sense of self-reproach in their hearts. Seeing someone causing disruption and disturbances, at most, they might make casual mention of this issue in passing, and then be done with it. They do not fellowship on the truth, nor do they point out the essence of the problem to this person, and less still do they dissect their state. They never communicate what God’s will is. The false leaders never expose or dissect what kind of errors people often make, or the corrupt dispositions people often reveal. They don’t solve any real problems, but instead always tolerate people’s misconduct and outpourings of corruption, and remain unconcerned no matter how negative or weak people are, merely preaching some words and doctrines, making a few perfunctory exhortations, trying to avoid conflict. As a result, God’s chosen ones do not reflect on and try to know themselves, they gain no resolution to the revelation of their corrupt dispositions, and live amid words, doctrines, notions and imaginings, without any life entry. They even believe in their hearts that, ‘Our leader has even more understanding for our weaknesses than God does. Our stature may be too small to live up to God’s requirements, but we need only fulfill the requirements of our leader; by obeying our leader, we are obeying God. If a day comes when the Above replaces our leader, then we will make ourselves heard; to keep our leader and stop him being replaced by the Above, we will negotiate with the Above and force them into agreeing to our demands. This is how we will do right by our leader.’ When people have such thoughts in their hearts, when they have such a relationship with the leader, and in their hearts, they feel dependence, admiration, and veneration toward their leader, then they will come to have ever greater faith in this leader, it is the leader’s words they want to hear, and they stop searching for the truth in God’s words. Such a leader has almost taken the place of God in people’s hearts. If a leader is willing to maintain such a relationship with God’s chosen people, if they derive a feeling of enjoyment from it in their heart, and believes that God’s chosen ones ought to treat them like this, then there is no difference between them and Paul, and they have already set foot on the path of the antichrists. God’s chosen people have already been deceived by antichrists and they have no discernment. … The antichrists do not do real work, they do not fellowship the truth and solve problems, they do not guide people in eating and drinking God’s words and entering the truth reality. They work only for status and renown, they care only about establishing themselves, protecting the place they hold in people’s hearts, and making everyone worship them, venerate them, and follow them; these are the aims they want to achieve. This is how the antichrists try to win people over and control God’s chosen ones. Is such a way of working not evil? It is abhorrent!” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item One: They Try to Win People Over). After reading this passage of God’s words, I felt a deep flush of embarrassment, because God’s words had precisely revealed my state. I clearly saw that the two deacons were not doing actual work, and that the problem was serious. I should have used God’s words that judge and reveal people’s corrupt dispositions to fellowship, so they could know their problems and change their attitudes toward their duty in good time, averting continued delays to church work. But to give them a good impression of me, and for them to say that I was a good leader, I didn’t expose the essence of their problems, I just used God’s comforting words to encourage them, meaning that their problems were not resolved in a timely manner. This affected the work of the church and even led to some of those who had just received the gospel leaving the gathering group. I realized that I was the main cause of this. A leader’s duty is to supervise and follow up on the work of church deacons and group leaders, and to resolve problems in time. We need to know the situations of our brothers and sisters, and when we discover that someone does things in their duty that violate principles or affect the church’s work, we should lovingly fellowship and help them. If our repeated fellowship still doesn’t change things, we should prune, deal with, or dismiss them. This is the only way to protect the work of the church. As a church leader, I had not been responsible at all in my duty, and I had not acted as a leader. How was I any different to those false leaders who didn’t do any real work? I was ashamed and sad. If I had fellowshiped and exposed their problems, I wouldn’t have caused these losses to the work of the church. These current problems had come about because of my neglect. I didn’t help my brothers and sisters understand the truth and couldn’t bring them before God. I had always just wanted them to approve of me and safeguard me, so that they would have a good image of me in their hearts and so that I would have status. I was walking the antichrist’s path of resisting God. Without the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, I don’t know what other evils I might have committed as well.
Once I recognized this, I regretted my actions, so I sincerely prayed to God: “God, I didn’t realize that my selfishness would bring such damage to the work of the church and endanger the lives of my brothers and sisters. I am unworthy of such an important work. God, I wish to repent, please guide me in reflecting to know myself. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again.” After praying, my state improved a little, but I still felt very guilty. I felt like a sinner, like everything I did represented Satan, that I couldn’t be saved, and that there was no hope for me. At this time, a sister sent a passage of God’s words in the group chat. God’s word says: “Your many experiences of failure, of weakness, your times of negativity, can all be said to be God’s trials. This is because everything comes from God, and all things and events are in His hands. Whether you fail or whether you are weak and you stumble, it all rests on God and is within His grasp. From God’s perspective, this is a trial of you, and if you cannot recognize that, it will become temptation. There are two kinds of states that people should recognize: One comes from the Holy Spirit, and the likely source of the other is Satan. One is a state in which the Holy Spirit illuminates you and allows you to know yourself, to detest and feel regret about yourself and to be able to have genuine love for God, to set your heart on satisfying Him. The other is a state in which you know yourself, but you are negative and weak. It could be said that this state is God’s refinement, and also that it is Satan’s temptation. If you recognize that this is God’s salvation of you and if you feel that you are now deeply in His debt, and if from now on you try to repay Him and no longer fall into such depravity, if you put your effort into eating and drinking His words, and if you always consider yourself to be lacking, and have a heart of longing, then this is God’s trial. After the suffering has ended and you are once again moving forward, God will still lead, illuminate, enlighten, and nourish you. But if you do not recognize it and you are negative, simply abandoning yourself to despair, if you think in this way, then Satan’s temptation will have come upon you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). After reading this passage of God’s words, I felt comforted, and I also had a path to practice. When I read the harsh words of God before, in which my corrupt disposition was revealed, I felt as if I had been condemned and had no hope of being saved, so I was negative and weak. But when I read this passage of God’s words, I understood God’s will. If people don’t defend the interests of the church in their duties and are exposed and dealt with, it is normal for them to feel negative and weak. If I could seek truth in my failure and reflect on myself, this was my chance to learn a lesson. But if I became negative, withdrew, gave in to despair, or gave up on myself, I would be falling for Satan’s trick and succumbing to temptation. God’s words of judgment and revelation is to cleanse and save people. God wanted me to know myself, learn from my failures, and not to be controlled by satanic dispositions. This was a good thing, this was an opportunity for my life to grow. Recognizing this, I no longer felt negative or misunderstood God. I was willing to do my duty according to God’s word and principles. I would no longer guard my name, reputation, and status.
Later, I read some of God’s words: “You ought to know that God likes those who are honest. In essence, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him. Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Three Admonitions). “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; do not consider the interests of man, and give no thought to your own pride, reputation, and status. You must first consider the interests of God’s house, and make them your priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not there have been impurities in the performance of your duty, whether you have been devoted, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given it your all, as well as whether or not you have been wholeheartedly thinking about your duty and the work of the church. You must consider these things” (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 word, I understood that God hates the deceitful but loves honest people. Honest people are able to protect the interests of the church, take responsibility for the lives of their brothers and sisters, and perform their duties well. I had to cast aside my pride and status, put the interests of the church first, and practice the truth in fellowshiping and exposing the two deacons, to let them realize the seriousness of their problems, genuinely repent, and start acting responsibly again. If they still couldn’t change after my fellowship, I had the responsibility to dismiss them and protect the work of the church.
Later, I found some of God’s words and fellowshiped with Brother Kevin first, to let him know that evil social trends are temptations from Satan and that he should let go of his carnal inclinations and throw himself into his duty, that only this would conform to the will of God. Then, I fellowshiped with Sister Janelle and pointed out her lack of urgency and responsibility in her duties, and told her to be considerate of God’s will. After my fellowship, they were both willing to change their attitudes toward their duty. Later, Brother Kevin made some changes; when he was tempted again, he could consciously forsake his own flesh. Sister Janelle was also able to be more proactive in her duty. When I saw this result, I blamed myself for not pointing out their problems sooner. I also saw that the word of God does not make people negative and that people who can accept the truth are able to know themselves, truly repent and perform their duty better. I am very happy to have had this experience. The enlightenment and guidance of God’s words gave me some understanding of my own corruption. I also experienced that the words expressed by Almighty God are the truth, and they can really change and save people. Thanks be to Almighty God!