9. Learning to Submit Through My Duty
By Novo, the Philippines
In 2012, when I was working in Taiwan, I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. Later, I learned I was one of the first people from the Philippines to accept it. I was very excited, and I felt I had been blessed. In 2014, after returning to the Philippines, I started preaching Almighty God’s kingdom gospel in my country. Soon after, many Filipinos accepted God’s work of the last days. I was thrilled, and was proud that I could preach the gospel. My brothers and sisters envied me for fulfilling such an important duty, and for being among the first in the Philippines to accept God’s work. They all said I was very fortunate. When I saw how they envied and looked up to me, I always felt a sense of superiority, and I felt I deserved such an important duty.
One day, the church leader told me that the brother in charge of the church’s general affairs had something to attend to, and asked if I could temporarily take over that brother’s duty. I was really upset, and thought, “Why does my leader suddenly want me to see to general affairs? What will my brothers and sisters think of me if they find out?” In my mind, only preaching the gospel and testifying to God was an important duty, one that could bring many people who yearn for God’s appearance before Him. General affairs were basically chores that couldn’t testify to God at all or make others look up to me. I was very disappointed. I couldn’t understand how this was happening to me, and I was worried that my leader would make me continue doing that. I had a lot of negative thoughts, I couldn’t submit to it, and I didn’t even want my brothers and sisters to know my duties had changed.
The next day, some brothers and sisters told me they had heard I was doing some general church affairs. Hearing them say this made me feel very ashamed and depressed. I didn’t want this job at all. I felt aggrieved and disobedient, but on the surface I pretended not to mind. I didn’t want them to see my weakness and look down on me, so I answered them by saying, “These are God’s arrangements, and I am grateful to Him for them.” Only after I said that did I realize that, although I knew the phrase “God has sovereignty over all things,” when the actual situation came, in my heart I didn’t admit His sovereignty. My words didn’t match how I felt. I appeared obedient, but I didn’t actually want to accept this at all. I couldn’t help but think, “Did the leader make a mistake in arranging for me to handle general affairs? This job isn’t right for me at all. I should be preaching the gospel, how can I do this duty?” I became increasingly negative. I supposed it must have been because he felt I was unsuitable to preach the gospel that he made me do this duty. I felt handling general affairs didn’t require life entry or seeking principles of truth, and was only physical labor, so I simply saw to affairs as I was told. After some time passed, I gained no life entry, I grew tired of it, and eventually I didn’t want to do this job anymore.
One day, a brother who I had previously preached the gospel with called me and asked, “Brother, there’s some place we’d like to go, can you drive us there?” Hearing that made me feel sad and embarrassed. I thought, “Maybe this brother thinks I just handle general affairs, that I’m just here doing grunt work or errand work, and that I have no status. He definitely looks down on me.” I felt really miserable and negative, and was even more unmotivated in my duties. During that time, while I appeared to be fulfilling my duty, I was a total mess inside, and would often wonder what my brothers and sisters thought of me. I didn’t even want to read God’s word or attend gatherings. Theoretically I knew that no matter what happened I should fulfill my duties as a created being, yet I couldn’t escape my negative and passive state. Eventually, I no longer felt the work of the Holy Spirit, and my duty seemed like a worldly job. Each day I just bustled about, waiting for the day to pass. My heart was full of darkness and misery, I had no enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in gatherings, and I always felt empty. I prayed to God, “God, I know my state is wrong, but I still care about what my brothers and sisters think of me. Please enlighten and lead me so that I can reflect on my corruption and accept this duty.”
Later, I read some of God’s words, “In measuring whether or not people can obey God, the key thing to look at is whether they desire anything extravagant from God, and whether or not they have ulterior motives. If people are always making demands of God, it proves that they are not obedient to Him. Whatever happens to you, if you cannot receive it from God, cannot seek the truth, are always speaking from your own subjective reasoning and always feeling that only you are right, and are even capable of doubting that God is the truth and righteousness, then you will be in trouble. Such people are most arrogant and rebellious to God. People who always make demands of God can never truly obey Him. If you make demands of God, this proves that you are making a deal with God, that you are choosing your own thoughts, and acting according to your own thoughts. In this, you betray God, and are without obedience. … If there is no true conviction in man, no substantial faith, they can never obtain God’s praise. When people are able to make fewer demands of God, their true conviction and their obedience will grow, and their sense of reason will also become comparatively normal” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Make Too Many Demands of God). God’s word revealed the corruption in my heart. I recalled how when I accepted God’s work of the last days, I prayed to God and said, “No matter what environment God arranges, or whether I encounter difficulties or experience great trials, I will accept and obey. No matter what happens, I will follow God.” But now, I had been placed in a real environment, but I couldn’t accept it. I suddenly realized that my obedience to God’s sovereignty and arrangement had merely been lip service. When the church had arranged for me to preach the gospel, I believed that it was an important duty, and my brothers and sisters also praised and looked up to me, so I really liked that duty, and thus I was very diligent and worked very hard at it. But when the leader arranged for me to handle general affairs, I felt like I had suddenly gone from being highly regarded by everyone to being a laborer no one cared about, and it was very embarrassing. I felt that the brothers and sisters would no longer look up to me like they used to. So, from the bottom of my heart, I couldn’t accept this duty, and I even thought my leader’s arrangements were wrong. I took my dignity and status far too seriously, and I was selfish and picky toward my duties. I just wanted to do a duty that would let me show off and earn others’ admiration, not an inconspicuous one. When the duty arranged for me didn’t let me show off or earn others’ admiration, my heart was full of resistance and complaints, and I could never bring myself to obey, which caused me to lose the Holy Spirit’s work and live in darkness. From God’s word, I understood that if I wanted to become genuinely obedient to God, then not only did I have to obey God’s arrangements when the environment suited me, more importantly, I had to obey when it didn’t. Even if I lost face, or my brothers and sisters didn’t look up to me, I had to accept and obey.
Later, at a gathering, I openly fellowshiped on my state, and my brothers and sisters sent me a passage of God’s word: “What does Satan use to keep man firmly within its control? (Fame and gain.) So, Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain. Looking now at Satan’s actions, are its sinister motives not utterly detestable? Maybe today you still cannot see through Satan’s sinister motives because you think one cannot live without fame and gain. You think that if people leave fame and gain behind, they will no longer be able to see the way ahead, no longer be able to see their goals, that their futures will become dark, dim and gloomy. But, slowly, you will all one day recognize that fame and gain are monstrous shackles that Satan uses to bind man. When that day comes, you will thoroughly resist Satan’s control and thoroughly resist the shackles Satan uses to bind you. When the time comes that you wish to throw off all the things Satan has instilled in you, you will then make a clean break with Satan and you will truly loathe all that Satan has brought to you. Only then will mankind have a real love and yearning for God” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). After contemplating God’s word, I realized the reason that I kept thinking handling general affairs was something unremarkable, that it made me lose face and harmed my image, and that I couldn’t bring myself to obey, was all because of harm caused by Satan. Satan uses fame and gain to control people’s hearts, and makes people struggle for fame and gain and sacrifice everything for them. I had also unconsciously been deceived and corrupted by Satan. I recalled how my parents taught me as a child to earn the respect and admiration of others. So, from a young age, I believed I should rise above others and be outstanding. In addition, society and the media also promote these views, and I saw how some famous and high-status people enjoy better treatment than average people, so I was determined to get ahead and be admired by everyone. After I accepted God’s work in the last days, I still lived by these perspectives, and I erroneously believed that gospel work was important and could earn others’ admiration and respect, but no one looks up to those taking care of daily tasks. I thought of duties as better or worse, and wanted to do whatever duty would let me stand out. When my leader arranged for me to handle general affairs based on our work needs, all I thought about were my own dignity and status, and from deep in my heart, I couldn’t accept it or obey. I didn’t seek God’s will at all, nor did I consider the needs of the church’s work. I was so selfish and despicable! That was when I realized that wanting to continue preaching the gospel wasn’t actually being considerate of God’s will. I simply wanted the duty as a springboard for me to earn everyone’s admiration. I only wanted to use my duty to show off and make people look up to me, so that I could get fame and gain. When the leader arranged for me to handle general affairs, my ambition to be highly regarded was shattered, so I passively shrank away, and even lacked the motivation to perform my duty. I thought of how some brothers and sisters used to have worldly status and prestige, but they were able to let go of it, and no matter what duty the church arranged for them, whether their duty was insignificant or not, they could still accept and obey. Upon comparing myself to them, I felt ashamed. I didn’t have a place for God in my heart, or even the most basic obedience to God. Now I realized how irrational it was to pursue fame, gain, and status. If I kept pursuing like this, I would never understand or obtain the truth, and sooner or later I would be cast out. After that, I read some of God’s words, “If everything you think about during your available hours each day has to do with how to resolve your corrupt disposition, how to practice the truth, and how to understand the principles of the truth, then you will learn to use the truth to resolve your problems according to God’s words. You will thus gain the ability to live independently, and you will have entered into life, and there will be no great difficulty for you in following God, and gradually, you will enter into the reality of the truth. If, in your heart, you are still fixated on status and prestige, still preoccupied with showing off and earning the admiration of others, then you are not someone who pursues the truth, and you walk the wrong path; what you pursue is not the truth, nor the life, but the things that you love, it is status and prestige—in which case, nothing you do will relate to the truth, it will all count as evildoing, and doing service. If, in your heart, you love the truth, and always strive for the truth, pursue changes in your disposition, are able to achieve true obedience to God, and can fear God and shun evil, and if, whenever you do anything, you hold yourself in check, and you are able to accept God’s scrutiny, then your state will grow ever better, and you will be someone who lives before God. … In all things, everyone who loves the truth seeks the truth, reflects on themselves and tries to know themselves, and focuses on practicing the truth, and there is always obedience to God and fear of God in their heart. If any notions or misunderstandings of Him should arise, they pray to God right away and seek the truth to resolve them; they focus on performing their duty well, such that God’s will is satisfied; and they strive toward the truth and pursue knowledge of God, coming to fear Him in their heart and shunning all evil deeds. This is someone who always lives before God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Good Behavior Does Not Mean One’s Disposition Has Changed). After reading God’s word, I realized that, if I wanted to get onto the right track of believing in God, to pursue the truth and achieve change in my disposition, then I needed to change my wrong viewpoint of pursuit. Regardless of whether I could show off or be admired by others in my duty, I should accept my duty and perform it loyally. This is the attitude I should have toward my duty, and the rationality that created beings should possess. If I performed my duty without pursuing the truth, and could not obey God, if I only did it to seek fame and status, and to earn the respect of my brothers and sisters, then that would mean I was taking a path of opposing God. If I didn’t change my ways, then in the end, I could only be rejected and cast out. Believing in God and fulfilling my duties require setting my motives straight, focusing on seeking and practicing the truth, letting go of my ambitions and desires, and doing things according to God’s requirements. Only then could I be obedient to God, and only in this way could I change my corrupt dispositions. Once I understood this, I had a direction, and from deep down inside I became willing to accept my duty. Whether or not people looked up to me, I had to perform my duty as best I could.
After that, I read two passages of God’s word: “Today, when you perform a duty in the house of God, whether it be big or small, whether it involves physical labor or using your brain, whether it is done outside or inside the church, the duty you perform is no accident. How is this your choice? It is directed by God. It is only because of God’s commission that you are moved, and have this sense of mission and responsibility, and are able to perform this duty. Among the unbelievers, there are many who are attractive, intelligent, or capable. But does God favor them? No, God did not choose them, God only favors you, this group of people. He makes you undertake every kind of role, carry out every kind of duty and responsibility in His work of management, and when, ultimately, God’s management plan comes to an end and is completed, what a glory and honor this will be! And so when, while performing their duty today, people suffer a little hardship, when they give things up and expend themselves, when they pay a price, when they lose status, fame and fortune in the world, when they no longer have those things, it seems as if God has taken those things away from them—but they have gained something more precious and valuable. What have they gained from God? It is through performing a duty that people gain the truth and life. Only when you have performed your duty well, when you have completed God’s commission for you, when you live your whole life for your mission and your God-given commission, when you have beautiful testimony and live a worthwhile life—only then are you a real person! And why do I say you are a real person? Because God has chosen you, He has allowed you to perform the duty of a creature of God in His management, and there can be no greater value or meaning to your life” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). “If you wish to be devoted in everything you do to meet God’s will, you cannot merely perform one duty; you must accept any commission God bestows upon you. Whether or not it corresponds to your tastes or your interests, or is something you do not enjoy or have never done before, or is something difficult, you still should accept it and submit. Not only must you accept it, but you must proactively cooperate, learn about it, and experience it and attain entry. Even if you suffer hardship, are humiliated, and are ostracized, you must still commit your devotion. Only by being able to practice in this way will you achieve devotion and satisfy God’s will in all things. You must regard it as your duty to fulfill, not as personal business. How should people understand their duties? As something that the Creator—God—gives them to do; this is how people’s duties come about. The commission that God gives you is your duty, and it is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that you perform your duty as God asks. If you can see that you are receiving God’s commission, that this is God’s love and God’s blessings coming upon you, then you will be able to accept your duty with a heart that loves God, and you will be able to be mindful of God’s will as you perform your duty, and you will be able to overcome all difficulties to satisfy God. Those who truly expend for God could never refuse God’s commission, they could never refuse any duty. No matter what duty God entrusts you with, regardless of what difficulties it entails, you should not refuse, but accept. This is the path of practice, which is to practice the truth and live up to your devotion in all things, in order to satisfy God. Wherein lies the focal point here? It is ‘in all things.’ ‘All things’ does not necessarily mean things that you like or are good at, much less things with which you are familiar. Sometimes you are not good at something, sometimes you need to learn, sometimes you will encounter difficulties, and sometimes you must suffer. However, regardless of what task it is, as long as it is commissioned by God, you must accept it from Him, receiving that duty and performing it well, such that you live up to your devotion and meet God’s will. This is the path of practice. No matter what happens to you, you must always seek the truth and once you are certain what sort of practice is in line with God’s will, you should practice it. Only acting in this way is practicing the truth, and only then can you enter the reality of the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). After reading God’s word, I realized that no duty comes to someone by accident. It comes from God’s sovereignty and arrangement. Although I didn’t like handling general affairs, it had been arranged for me based on the needs of the church’s work, so I couldn’t follow my own preferences, I had to obey and perform my duty well with all my heart and strength. Only living this way is significant and not in vain. Previously, I had been hypnotized by fame and gain, I didn’t understand God’s sovereignty, so I couldn’t treat my duty correctly, and I viewed duties as better and worse. I now understood that no duty is above or below another, we simply perform different functions. Both preaching the gospel and handling general affairs are necessary parts of church work, and I must accept whatever duty I was given. No matter what duty we perform in God’s house, God wants us to pursue truth and emphasize life entry. If I only performed my duty to be admired and gain reputation and status, then I wouldn’t be fulfilling the duty of a created being, I would be scheming for my own ends. I would be rebelling against and opposing God. If that were the case, then even if I was admired by other people, God wouldn’t approve, so what would be the point in doing it? Though handling general affairs didn’t seem like anything remarkable to me, this environment allowed me to reflect and know myself, pursue the truth, learn lessons, and ultimately, it allowed me to let go of my desire for reputation and status, and learn to obey. This was God’s salvation for me. Actually, in handling church affairs, I encountered various things that required considering of the interests of the church, during which time I needed to seek the truth and act according to principles. Was this not a great opportunity for me to practice the truth and fulfill my duty to satisfy God? Once I realized this, I prayed to God, “God, I don’t want to rebel against You any longer. I want to submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements, accept Your observation and perform my duties with a heart full of love for You.” After I prayed, I felt a sense of release, and I had the confidence to properly perform my duty.
One time, I was working with my brothers and sisters to complete a task. I watched them perform their duties carefully, conscientiously considering and inspecting each detail of their work so that the interests of the church didn’t suffer. I thought back on how I’d held the wrong attitude toward my duty ever since taking it up. I simply did whatever was arranged by my leader, and never considered how to perform the duty well. Fulfilling my duties in this way hurt God and made Him despise me. Later, I no longer worried about whether I was looked up to by others. Instead, I thought seriously about the church’s interests, and I was also careful and deliberate in my tasks. When I performed my duties that way, I felt at peace, and no longer felt tired. I gained much from my experience, and I understood that God had given me a duty I didn’t like to make me reflect and realize that my pursuit of reputation and status had been wrong, to save me from the bondage and constraints of reputation and status. He was leading me down the path of pursuing the truth. This was all God’s love for me. I understood God’s good intentions and saw that no matter what befalls me, even when it is something or some duty that doesn’t fit my notions, it is beneficial for my life. I could no longer rebel against God. I had to become obedient to God and perform my duties in a grounded way.
Soon afterward, the brother who had been in charge of general affairs returned. The leader arranged for me to work with this brother and continue taking care of general affairs. When I received this news, I thought, “This time, I can’t let my preferences dictate how I treat my duties. I must accept and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements.” I knew that this was God showing me grace, giving me another chance to train myself and enter into His words. With my previous experience, I had no more negative thoughts in my duty, I no longer looked down on my duty, and no longer was I saddened at not being admired by others. Instead, I performed my duty in a down-to-earth manner and sought to satisfy God’s will. I read some 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 word brightened my heart. When we fulfill our duties, we should accept God’s observation, and let go of our desires, intentions and motivations. We should offer up our sincere hearts, do things for the benefit of the church, and do our best in everything we ought to do. Only in this way can we fulfill the duty of a created being, live in an upright manner, and possess the humanity and reason that people are meant to have. When I practiced like this, I felt I had peace of mind, and was at ease.
I’m very happy in my duty now, and I’ve gained much. I know that without being exposed by the facts, and without the judgment of God’s word, I would not have recognized my own corruption, nor would I have been able to see the importance of pursuing the truth. After this experience, I also realized that the duty I perform is arranged by God, and it is based on my needs in terms of life entry, so I should accept and obey, pursue the truth, perform my duties with my whole heart and mind, and become someone who truly obeys God and earns God’s approval.