95. A People-pleaser’s Phoniness
By Chuncui, China
In 2020, I gathered in a group with Sister Liu Yang, the gospel deacon. No matter the difficulty I had, she patiently fellowshiped with me and helped me. She was very kind to me. After a couple months, I discovered that she was not only responsible in her duties, but she was also very loving. If the brothers and sisters had any problems or difficulties, she always actively sought words of God to fellowship with them, and patiently helped and supported them. I felt she was strong in her pursuit; she made a good impression on me.
After knowing her for a while, I realized that, at gatherings, she liked to talk about how she practiced and gained entry when things happened to her, but always seemed to gloss over the corrupt dispositions she revealed and how she reflected, gained self-knowledge, and resolved the matter through reading God’s words. It sounded like she had stature, she was dedicated to her pursuit, and she had no corruption. I thought, “This kind of fellowship isn’t true self-knowledge. It will likely gain people’s admiration, which isn’t beneficial or edifying for anyone. She’s responsible for several gathering places, and if the brothers and sisters have no discernment of what she says, they will worship her. If this continues, they will be brought before her. Beyond that, gatherings are for reading God’s words and fellowshiping on our personal experience and understanding of God’s words, and for helping each other with our life entry. But Liu Yang’s fellowship monopolizes much of the time in gatherings, and it’s seriously impacting church life. I should mention it to her. If she continues like this, she’ll have to be restricted.” But then I thought, “Liu Yang has been in the faith longer than me, so if I point out her issues directly, will she say I don’t know my place and am deliberately taking issue with her? Will she have a negative opinion of me?” So I didn’t say anything.
One day, Liu Yang held a gathering with us, and we read several passages of God’s words about how God would abandon and cast out those who could not practice the truth or change their corrupt dispositions. Reading this pierced my heart, and several of my sisters felt the same. But Liu Yang had no feeling after reading these passages, and did not fellowship on her understanding of God’s words. She just once again went into her successful experiences, telling us about one thing after another, at no point mentioning which aspects of her own corruption she revealed or how she reflected and what she learned. Seeing her constantly showing off, I really wanted to directly point out her problem, but I saw a sister next to me not saying anything, while another sister was eagerly nodding her head in agreement. I worried that if I said something straightforward about Liu Yang, she might feel that I was just trying to embarrass her. If it had just been the two of us, I could have given her a gentle reminder, but two other sisters were there. If I said something now, it might humiliate her, or ruin our relationship. But God likes honest people with a sense of justice, so if I saw a problem and didn’t speak up, it was going against God’s will. I felt very conflicted, and the gathering felt unbearable for me. At that moment, I saw a passage of God’s words. “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured, how many things you did to resist God, and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience, and speak more from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition). God’s words say that to bear testimony, one must understand, on the basis of God’s words, the corrupt dispositions that one has revealed, and their testimony must also contain their understanding of God’s work, and where in God’s words they find a path of practice. This passage directly addressed Liu Yang’s state. Because Liu Yang and I were watching the same computer, I highlighted this passage in the document in a bold color, hoping to call it to her attention this way, to make her aware of her misstep in her fellowship on experience. That way, I wouldn’t have to point out her problem directly, and I could avoid offending her. But Liu Yang didn’t realize what I meant at all, and continued with her fellowship. I wanted to bring it up, but I was concerned she wouldn’t accept it, so I said very tactfully, “We still aren’t able to know ourselves through God’s words, and we aren’t able to speak on how to experience God’s words or practice them….” But even then, she still didn’t understand what I was getting at. I thought that should count as pointing it out to her—if she still didn’t see her own problem, it had nothing to do with me.
After that, the church leaders asked the brothers and sisters to write evaluations of the church deacons and arranged for me to collect all of them. I wanted to write my true opinion of Liu Yang, but I saw that most of the brothers and sisters had quite positive opinions of her. There was even one sister who had just met her who wrote about nothing but Liu Yang’s merits. I thought, “If I’m the only one criticizing her, will the leaders think there’s some sort of grudge between us, that I’m deliberately targeting her? What if Liu Yang learns I said these things behind her back? Will she hate me then? If so, wouldn’t that put the two of us at an impasse?” After that, although I wrote about some of her behaviors, I also expressly stated that my own stature was small, and that my perception might be off.
At one gathering, I opened up about what I had exposed during this period of time. One of the sisters there reminded me that this was the behavior of a people-pleaser, and said, “People-pleasers are black-hearted!” Hearing her say the word “black-hearted” was hurtful and distressing. I had long known about Liu Yang showing off through fellowship in gatherings, yet I had put off saying anything to protect my relationship with her. I didn’t help my sister come to know her own corruption and resolve her problem, and my brothers and sisters were deceived because they lacked discernment. Rather than practicing the truth, I was harming others. Didn’t this make me a black-hearted person? At this thought, I felt some regret, and I read this passage of God’s words: “If you can clearly see that someone has a problem, but don’t tell them outright so as to avoid confrontation, and you even make excuses, saying, ‘My stature is small now and I don’t understand your problems thoroughly. When I do, I’ll tell you,’ then what is the issue? This involves a philosophy for living. Is this not trying to fool others? You should speak of as much as you can see clearly; and if something is not evident to you, say so. This is saying what’s in your heart. If you have certain thoughts and certain things are evident to you, but you are afraid of offending people, terrified of hurting their feelings, and so choose to say nothing, then this is living by a worldly philosophy” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God). Reading God’s words, I felt self-reproach. I had long ago discovered that Liu Yang always exalted herself and showed off at gatherings, making the others look up to her, and that that kind of fellowship is no help at all to brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. It also tied up lots of time in gatherings and had already impacted proper church life. Despite that, I had kept my mouth shut about her problem in order to protect our relationship. As I was writing my evaluation, I wanted to expose her behavior of exalting herself and showing off, but when I saw how everyone was saying good things about her, I went along, afraid I’d cause offense. Although I wrote about some of her behaviors, I also implied that my own stature was small and I lacked insight. In fact, I didn’t lack insight. I could see the problem clearly, and knew she was doing wrong, but I feared offending her, continued to hesitate, and didn’t dare utter a single fair word. I was using the worldly philosophy of an unbeliever to interact with others. What kind of believer was I?
After that, I read a passage of God’s words: “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus disturbing the work of the church and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? Neither; this is primarily the consequence of being restrained by corrupt dispositions. One of the corrupt dispositions you reveal is a crafty disposition; when something happens to you, the first thing you think of is your own interests, the first thing you consider is the consequences, whether this will be beneficial to you. This is a crafty disposition, is it not? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? I’m not a leader, so why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s not my responsibility.’ Such thoughts and words are not something that you consciously think, but are produced by your subconscious—which is the corrupt disposition revealed when people encounter an issue. Corrupt dispositions such as this govern the way you think, they bind your hands and feet, and control what you say. There are things you wish to say, but you have misgivings, and even when you do speak out, you beat around the bush, and leave yourself wiggle room, or else you prevaricate and don’t tell the truth. People who are clear-eyed can see this; in truth, you know in your heart that you have not said all you should, that what you have said has had no effect, that you were merely going through the motions, and that the problem has not been solved. You have not fulfilled your responsibility, yet you say overtly that you have fulfilled your responsibility, or that what was happening was unclear to you. Is this true? And is it what you really think? Are you not then completely under the control of your satanic disposition? Even though some of what you say is in line with the facts, in key places and on crucial issues, you lie and try to deceive people, which proves that you are someone who lies, and who lives by their satanic disposition. Everything you say and think has been processed by your brain, leading to your every utterance being fake, empty, a lie; actually, everything you say is contrary to the facts, for the sake of justifying yourself, for your own benefit, and you feel you have achieved your aims when you have deluded people and made them believe. Such is the way you speak; it also represents your disposition. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic disposition. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. You are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and practice the truth, but it’s not up to you. When your satanic dispositions control you, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to do. You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s word described my true state. I saw Liu Yang doing nothing but exalting herself and showing off in her fellowship at gatherings, seriously disrupting church life, and I obviously could have said something, but my fear of offending her had me tied up in knots, I had obsessed over it, and didn’t dare utter a single true word. I was completely controlled by my corrupt disposition and had allowed it to seal my mouth shut. This had led me to the point that, even though I knew what was correct, what was positive, I didn’t have the courage to speak out. I’d put a different spin on what I really wanted to say, leaving it altered, watered down, so when I said it politely to Liu Yang, it was of no help at all and couldn’t resolve the problem. Outwardly, I disguised myself in the image of a good person, but inside, I spent every moment thinking of how to protect my relationships with others so they’d speak well of me. I was willing to see brothers’ and sisters’ lives suffer in order to protect my own status and image. I was selfish, deceitful, and lacked all humanity and reason.
I felt deeply guilty thinking back on all my people-pleasing behaviors over that time. I read God’s words: “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). “The young should not be without the truth, nor should they harbor hypocrisy and unrighteousness—they should stand firm in the proper stance. They should not just drift along, but should have the spirit to dare to make sacrifices and to struggle for justice and truth. Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to oppression by the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence. Young people should not resign themselves to adversity, but should be open and frank, with a spirit of forgiveness for their brothers and sisters. Of course, these are My requirements of everyone, and My advice to everyone. But even more, these are My soothing words for all young people. You should practice according to My words. In particular, young people should not be without the resolve to exercise discernment in issues and to seek justice and the truth. You should pursue all things beautiful and good, and you should obtain the reality of all positive things. You should be responsible toward your life, and you must not take it lightly” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Words for the Young and the Old). God wants us to be able to discern right from wrong, take the proper stance, not blindly follow the crowd, and dare to uphold justice and principles. As for me, I saw Liu Yang’s problem, but I wasn’t an honest person. I hadn’t frankly pointed out her problem, nor had I lovingly tried to help her. Instead, I was a people-pleaser and deceitful. I abandoned the principles of truth, and in the end I still failed to help her truly know her own problem. Wasn’t I just harming her? How was I acting like a believer in God ought? The more I reflected on this, the guiltier I felt. I couldn’t let myself be a people-pleaser anymore. I urgently needed to practice the truth and be an honest person.
I met Liu Yang at a gathering and pointed out directly the problem she had in her fellowship. Referring to the words of God that we had read previously, I told her one must talk about one’s own revealed corrupt disposition when fellowshiping on the truth and testifying to God, use God’s words to dissect and come to know oneself, and speak on how one changes through God’s words. This way we can help people gain knowledge and discernment of these satanic dispositions and see how God’s words truly can cleanse and change people. Only this is exalting and bearing witness for God. After I finished, Liu Yang admitted to having these problems, said it was good that I pointed them out and that it was helpful to her life, and asked me to remind her more often. Hearing her say that made me feel ashamed. I’d been worried I might offend her by speaking frankly, and that she would think badly of me. It turned out she wasn’t unable to accept the truth, as I had thought. The problem was me being too cowardly, cunning, and deceitful. Having practiced in this way I learned that practicing the truth and speaking honestly is a good thing. It is not only helpful for others, but puts my own heart at ease.
After that, I continued to seek in God’s words. I read these words of Almighty God, “You may have believed in God for three, five, eight, or ten years, yet still not know how to obey God or practice God’s words. No matter what happens, you still use satanic words as a basis for your actions, you still seek a basis for things in traditional culture. Like this, are you believing in God? Aren’t you following Satan? You live by satanic words and dispositions, so aren’t you resisting God? Since you don’t practice or live by God’s word, don’t follow God’s footsteps, can’t listen to whatever God says, and can’t obey no matter what God orchestrates or demands of you, you are not following God. You are still following Satan. Where is Satan? Satan is in people’s hearts. The philosophies, logic and rules, and the various lies of Satan have long since taken root in people’s hearts. This is the most serious problem. If you cannot solve this problem in your belief in God, then you will not be able to be saved by God. Therefore, you must always examine what you do, your thoughts and views, and your basis for doing things using God’s words, and analyze the things in your thoughts. You must know which of the things within you are philosophies for living, which are popular adages, which are traditional culture, and which have come from intellectual knowledge. You must know which of these you always believe to be right and in accordance with the truth, which you abide by as if they were the truth, and which you allow to take the place of the truth. These are the things you must dissect. In particular, you treat the things you believe are right and precious as the truth; such things are not easy to identify. But once you do, you will have broken through a major obstacle. These things stop people from understanding God’s words, from practicing the truth, and from obeying God. If you spend all day bewildered and at a loose end, if you do not give any consideration to these things, and pay no attention to solving these problems, then this is the root of your malaise, this is the poison. If they are not removed, you will be incapable of truly following God, and unable to practice the truth, obey God, and attain salvation” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. One Cannot Be Saved by Faith in Religion or Engaging in Religious Ceremony). As I contemplated God’s words, I realized that I became a people-pleaser because I lived by satanic philosophies, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others.” These satanic philosophies had poisoned me deeply. Living by these things had made me incredibly selfish, self-interested, cunning, and deceitful. In everything I said and did, I considered whether it would further my own interests. I clearly saw there was a problem with Liu Yang, but because I was so protective of my own reputation and interests, I watched with eyes wide open as church life was impacted, and didn’t dare to speak the truth and be an honest person. I didn’t take any kind of stance, and sought to offend nobody. I saw that if I lived by these satanic worldly philosophies, I would never be able to practice the truth, because my approach was wrong at its very core. God’s will is for us to be honest people, for the brothers and sisters to mutually help one another, point out each other’s flaws, and pursue the truth together. But I always saw things with satanic philosophies and views, always believing that “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship” and “Speak good words in harmony with others’ feelings and reason, as being frank annoys others.” I upheld these as if they were the truth. I thought I could get along well with others if I didn’t point out or talk about other people’s problems when I saw them, that I was a good person. I was utterly absurd! If I had pursued the truth, practiced being an honest person according to God’s words, and pointed out Liu Yang’s problem earlier, she might have become aware of it sooner and changed things, which would have been helpful for her life and beneficial for church life. Only in this way would I have fulfilled my responsibilities, and been a good person with a sense of justice. But in order to protect my own interests, I hadn’t practiced the truth. When I saw church life being disrupted I did not stand up to protect it. When I saw Liu Yang living in a corrupt disposition I didn’t point it out or help her. I was selfish, deceitful, and without humanity. Now I truly see clearly that only by pursuing the truth and practicing honesty according to God’s words can one truly be a good person.
I am grateful for the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, which helped me understand that people-pleasers aren’t truly good people, and gave me some understanding of my own satanic dispositions of selfishness and deceit. I personally experienced that only by practicing the truth and being an honest person can one be at peace and at ease. Thank Almighty God!